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Rationale for the College’s required Student Health Services fee

All students enrolled are required to pay the Student Health Services fee, which includes access to the College’s on-campus walk-in clinic, counseling service, and the 24/7 emergency staff that includes access to the College’s contract pediatric service, as well as the University Health Plan insurance. While the College understands the desire families have to reduce their daughter or son’s bill and their belief that this service may be redundant if they already have a family policy that covers their child, it requires all students to pay this fee for two major reasons.

First, our students are younger when they arrive on campus than most and often have not yet managed their own healthcare needs. Mom or Dad has usually been with them when they need care. Our fee covers more than just the usual college or university medical care. By paying this fee, our students receive walk-in access to both our Health and Counseling Services staff. These staff members (licensed counselors and nurses or nurse practitioners supervised by contracted physicians) are available during business hours Monday through Friday and are on-call round the clock in the event our students need help, support, or follow-up attention.

Second, over the years students and their parents/guardians have told us, usually after the fact, that they/their child needed help or support at one time or another but chose not to seek help advice or treatment because they were not covered on the College's (formerly optional) plan. In these instances, students wanted to seek counseling support or see one of our nurses about personal issues. After hearing this concern frequently, the College felt compelled to address it because of the impact on the student's success.

Great Barrington is a rural area, and while there is a small local hospital less than two miles down the road, sixteen- and seventeen year-olds are often intimidated and overwhelmed when facing a serious personal problem or emergency alone. Further, many adolescents are less likely to follow up properly if they must manage their health on their own. Instead of doing so, they take risks with their recovery. Our staff is diligent about taking care of students and, in addition, is available to parents (in compliance with HIPPA regulations). Events can be as minor as a sore throat, stitches or a twisted ankle or something much more concerning. Our staff members know the resources, have the working relationships with local care providers, and will get students the proper treatment in the absence of parents. We understand that having to pay another required fee may seem excessive, but we hope this explanation clarifies the matter.