Attorney shares health care options with students

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Ralonda Mason, an attorney with Legal Aid, spoke about student health care option at Student Government’s open gallery Thursday.

Before Mason came to the podium, David Schnettler, security supervisor at Public Safety, talked about the recent shootings in S. Dakota and Oregon.

“Your safety is monumental to us,” Schnettler said.

He explained that the emergency procedures at SCSU are the same used in S. Dakota. In the case of a violent intruder, authorities are to be called, while public safety will aid in evacuating people from the area, he explained.

He stayed to answer questions from the body. Members of Student Government asked his thoughts about the S. Dakota shooting.

Schnettler said the shooter had a “history of disturbance”.

“We try to watch out for that stuff without being intrusive,” said Schnettler.

Schnettler stepped away from the podium, turning it over to the Director of Student Health Services, Corie Beckermann, who introduced Ralonda Mason.

Stepping up to speak, Mason said she’d been working to help students enroll in health care at SCSU for years now.

“We help people get enrolled in cheap and appropriate health services,” she said, explaining that Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) have recognized SCSU as being advanced in the state.

“Health care is one of those things that parents took care of,” she said. “But, why would students need health care, since students are often young and healthy?”

She said students are more likely to engage in dangerous activities that could result in injury.

“On averag,”, she said, “going to the doctor’s office for a broken arm will cost about $9,000. That’s mainly because it’s not a one-and-done visit. There are follow-up visits and x-rays, which are added to the doctor’s bill.”

Mason said it’s the number one reason people file for bankruptcy. She explained that this also plays into being able to lease an apartment and get a job.

“It’s something that will follow you for a long time,” she said.

During her time on campus last year, she said they helped 100 students enroll in health care programs that are fitting to them. Some students who were in enrolled in the program didn’t have to pay a monthly premium.

Enrolling in the public program is based off of the person’s monthly income. In some cases, people who qualify for the public program won’t have to pay a monthly premium, and they’ll likely have low co-pay, Mason said.

“When you enroll, it’s on your current situation,” she said.

“The public programs are designed to be affordable,” she explained. “Tuition and scholarships do not count toward monthly income, either,” she added.

“In the case the person who’s trying to enroll in the public program doesn’t qualify, due to the monthly income, they still have theoption of private insurance program,” she said.

“On the other hand, if income changes, the person enrolled must notify the health care provider within a certain time frame,” she said, wrapping up the open gallery.

“When I was in college, I would’ve never thought of it,” she said, explaining that friends of her in college had gotten into accidents and didn’t have insurance. “Not having health coverage led to big debts.”