Students must soon disclose if they choose to keep their University insurance.
On Sept. 25, Concordia students will have their final chance to declare if they choose to stay with their student health and dental plan for the fall semester.
Offered through the Concordia Students Union (CSU), the insurance plan is included in each semester’s tuition, a fact Dom Doesburg, a third-year student in computer science, wished he knew earlier.
“Having it cover my therapy, quite literally, saved my life,” said Doesburg. “I wouldn’t have been able to stay in school, or get the support that I needed.”
For almost two years, Doesburg has been taking advantage of the CSU’s health and dental plan. Seeking mental health support, Doesburg initially paid for therapy out of pocket, something he said quickly became unsustainable as a full-time student living on his own.
The health plan covers a wide array of services, with varying amounts upwards of $10,000 in total. For Doesburg, this primarily meant psychiatry, which the Studentcare plan covered 80 per cent of each session.
Doesburg added that he didn’t want to miss any opportunity, as he’d later use his coverage for vaccinations and dental services.
Despite the help he receives regularly, Doesburg explained that his journey to finding resources through the CSU was not simple.
“I did it all by myself, which was not fun,” Doesburg said. “I’ve talked to other people and they are really confused, so I’ve been helping. I think on the Concordia website, it needs to be way clearer somehow.”
Doesburg added that initial research into student health care yielded poor results, with only brief explanations on Concordia’s website. Eventually, he accessed the Studentcare website, the insurance broker associated with the CSU, where he found the information to get him started.
Brooks Reed-Constantine, a linguistics student and Concordia Nightline’s external vice president, said she sympathized with Doesburg, as accessibility to professional mental health may not be within reach for every student.
“I think that it’s crazy how difficult it is to get in touch with a psychiatrist,” Reed-Constantine said.
She explained that the student health services aided her life as a student, despite any limitations to the health plan.
Concordia’s Nightline club operates during evening hours between Wednesday and Saturday, providing active listening to callers. According to Reed-Constantine, this allows callers, often anxious students, to feel heard and relieve them of certain stressors.
Working with Nightline, Reed-Constantine said she gained a perspective into matters of mental health, despite not being a professional. She believed that students should have more options than Nightline, and should seek professional help if accessible.
“It’s only ever one leg of the chair. You have to do a bunch of the work yourself,” Reed-Constantine added. “Giving anybody a head start and trying to take some of that financial burden off can be really helpful.”
The CSU operates mostly as a mediator between student and insurance broker. Often, a student is navigating the ins-and-outs of insurance for the first time, so they can definitely use the help. According to Hannah Jackson, the CSU’s external and mobilization coordinator, this is for the best.
“Concordia is a business. It is a for-profit corporation. We’re a union. We aren’t trying to make a profit every year and we aren’t trying to cut costs,” Jackson said. “We have a greater incentive to make it comprehensive and affordable, as opposed to the university administration.”
Jackson explained that the insurance coverage offered by the CSU is considered additional to that of the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie (RAMQ) including eye care and physiotherapy.
International and part-time students are exceptions, as they are not directly covered by the Studentcare.
For the former, they must go through the university’s administration, to both Jackson and the CSU’s dismay. However, Jackson added that international students are eligible for dental care through which they may also receive the CSU’s newly established gender-affirming healthcare.
Part-time students, although covered by the same insurance, must declare if they opt-in for coverage. As such, they must pay the yearly amount of $185 separate from their tuition.
“[Studentcare] can be bureaucratic. They can be very arbitrary in their rules,” Jackson said. “But I encourage people to explore what’s covered under their plan and to really claim it, because that money is there.”