It is our hope that the Student Health Center and Pharmacy (SHCP) Frequently Asked Question section will help you better navigate your health and well being. We are here to help you get well and stay well.
Visit our About SHCP for an overview of the services we offer.
Yes, as an enrolled student you can still be seen without your insurance card but we must receive it within 48 hours. If the insurance card is not received within 48 hours, all charges will be billed to the student account. You can upload the front and back of your insurance card to myBama.
Some students have saved front and back photos of their insurance cards on their cell phones.
Note: Insurance coverage can change at any time, such as when parent/guardian changes jobs, their employer changes carriers, etc. Students should present their health insurance card to the SHCP receptionist to verify continued coverage.
Medicaid is a state-specific form of health insurance. For that reason, it can only be used in your home state where it was issued. Unfortunately, neither the SHCP nor other health care providers can bill on out-of-state Medicaid. The SHCP strongly encourages all students to have health care insurance to cover the cost of essential health services. Staying healthy is one of the keys to academic success
What are my options if I have Medicaid from another state?
- Option one – ComCare: With documentation of active Medicaid from another state, SHCP can offer ComCare for routine office visits at a reduced cost. Lab, X-rays, and medications are not covered by ComCare and represent additional costs when needed for assessment and care. ComCare is only usable at SHCP. All charges are convenienly posted to your UA student account. Demonstrating no active insurance requires us to have:
- A copy of your parent’s tax return if you are under 25 or a copy of your personal tax return if you are 26 or older reflecting no insurance.
- Verification of active Medicaid insurance from another state.
- For questions about ComCare, please call 205-348-7164.
- Option 2 – United Health Care Student Resources Insurance: Investigate with your parent/guardian the option of the University sponsored insurance through United Health Care Student Resources, which offers a strong plan at a low cost. Information is available at university sponsored health insurance. There are specific deadlines for enrollment and help can be provided if you need assistance by calling (205) 348-4086
Yes, you can still be seen. Students are not required to be covered by insurance to be seen at the SCHP. However, the SCHP recommends that all students be covered by a health insurance plan while attending UA to help cover the costs of their health care.
Billing for services: As with any health care entity, you will be charged for a visit. There are two options for students who do not have insurance coverage personally or under their parent’s insurance policy. It is also important to note that out of state students who have Medicaid insurance in their home state can only use that insurance coverage in the state where it is issued.
The annual premium will continue until it concludes on July 31. If you graduate earlier than that, you will need to seek health care at University Medical Center or at a medical practice in the community.
If you purchased insurance on a semester basis and the coverage ends in May when you graduate and you wish to extend the coverage, you will need to purchase a continuation policy beyond May through United Health Care Student Resources by contacting the organization directly.
Prevention measures are key. Reducing the frequency of illnesses essentially revolves around the observance of appropriate hygiene practices.
- Change toothbrushes often, especially after an occurrence of illness.
- Use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces of toilet handles, doorknobs, light switches, television remotes, game controllers, and any other communally shared items.
- Do not eat or drink after others.
- Keep pump hand sanitizers in your room. Carry hand sanitizers in your backpack and store some in your car for use before eating. Use hand sanitizers after touching door surfaces when entering or exiting rooms and buildings.
- Plan for adequate rest and sleep, which is a common oversight by college students and yet important for both prevention of and recovery from an illness.
We are fortunate to have DCH Regional Medical Center within two blocks of the SCHP. DCH Regional Medical Center is a full-service referral hospital with the region’s most advanced trauma center and intensive care units. SHCP staff works closely with DCH administration, the physicians who practice there and its Emergency Department. For more information visit the DCH website
Privacy, confidentiality of records and their release are governed by two distinctly different federal laws for the Student Health Center and for the hospital. See Privacy and Confidentiality for more details.
The parking lot in front of both the SHCP and University Medical Center is for patient parking only. If you get a parking ticket and you were seen as a patient at either SHCP or UMC, you can get the ticket dropped, which requires verification of a clinic visit from an official at either site. Bring the clinic visit verification and a copy of your ticket to the SHCP and we can call UA Parking Services to have it voided.
When the University is closed, the SHCP is also closed, but students can go to University Medical Center, which is located at the opposite end of the SHCP building, for care.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, proceed to the nearest hospital, DCH Regional Medical Center, or call 911.
Our providers are skilled at assessment and treatment of routine mental health conditions. We can also recommend other campus-based resources that may be appropriate, such as the Counseling Center, the Women and Gender Resource Center, the Student Care and Wellbeing Office, the Psychology Clinic, the Family Therapy Clinic, and Collegiate Recovery and Intervention Services.
When more specialized help is needed, psychiatry services are available at the SHCP. Our psychiatrists can provide evaluations, ongoing support, and assist with medications. You can make an appointment by calling 205-348-8262. Visit the Psychiatry section of our website for more information.
Our staff is committed to providing high-quality health care to students at UA. We realize this may be your first time seeking care away from home and want to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Your first visit will include a review of your medical history and family history. Vital signs will be taken by nurses in advance of your visit with the provider.
The provider will evaluate your current needs and plan for follow-up care will be explained to you. Please listen carefully and follow the advice for best outcomes. Always return if your illness changes or does not improve.
If medications are prescribed, our pharmacy can meet most of your needs. In limited circumstances, your health insurance plan may require use of a specific commercial pharmacy and we will e-prescribe that prescription to that source.
Most common over-the-counter medications can be obtained at our onsite pharmacy.
As with any health care practice, there are peak times of the day when the volume is higher than others and therefore the potential wait is longer. Coming early, between 8am-10am, is a good idea as this is a less busy time.
As the patient, you are in control of what information is shared, with whom and under what circumstances. You must sign a Release of Information form with our Medical Records department to allow us to talk your parents/guardian or other health care providers. We keep this form on file in your medical record. You can change this information any time, limit the release to a certain date(s), and restrict what cannot be shared.
We encourage our students to take personal responsibility for their own health and learn to navigate the health care environment independently. Our intent is to facilitate that process in a collaborative way with our students. Learn more about privacy and confidentiality.
Sometimes it is in the patient’s best interest to use an over-the-counter medication to ease symptoms while the body fights the infection or illness. A prescription might not be indicated and might not be consistent with current evidenced-based medical care. When over-the-counter medications are the most appropriate option, we educate students about why that a prescription is not indicated and provide follow up recommendations should a change in symptoms.
When an illness does not improve or symptoms worsen students are advised to return to the SHCP.
Your comments are important to us as your health and well being is our mission. There are three ways to communicate with us:
- Complete the patient satisfaction survey that is sent to your Crimson email after each visit. Including your contact information allows us to communicate with you confidentially.
- Call the quality improvement coordinator at (205)-348-3877.
- Communicate directly with your provider through the Patient Portal.
Your prescription label will tell you if there are refills available, so check that information first. If not, you will need to have the prescription renewed with the provider. If you need to refill a prescription from your home pharmacy, you can call the SHCP and provide the name of your medication, pharmacy, and your pharmacy’s phone number and our pharmacy staff will call your home pharmacy to transfer your prescription.
There are three ways you can obtain a refill:
There are two different federal laws that regulate privacy and confidentiality of health/medical records and the release of these records.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA refers only to student health centers, like the SHCP, that only provide care to university students.
The SHCP is under the protections of FERPA, which is a federal law that governs educational systems. We must honor the wishes of our student patients when it involves the disclosure of their PHI to anyone, including their parents. Students are required to sign an ROI (Release of Information) form which directs us for any verbal, electronic, or written release of any information regarding their care. The student may rescind any current ROI signed at any time. The student may also allow some information to be released and other information to be restricted. Except in an extraordinary situation, the SHCP may not violate that ROI. Even though parents/guardians are generally paying for their student’s education and their health insurance is under their parent/guardian’s policy, we are required by this law to honor the student’s wishes with regards to disclosing PHI. There are severe penalties to an institution for violations of this federal regulation.
The Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA)
HIPAA refers to health care entities that are not restricted in those for whom they provide medical care and treatment, such as hospitals, rehab centers, physician practices, nursing homes, etc.
Hospitals and other health care entities that are not restricted to university students only are governed by HIPAA, which is the federal legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information and Protected Health Information (PHI). For this reason, hospitals must also comply with the wishes for privacy of information and release or restriction of information sharing to anyone, including parents. There are also severe penalties for hospitals and other health care entities for violations of this regulation. Exceptions are few and would represent extraordinary situations.
Yes. For unique and specialized needs beyond our scope, the SHCP has a strong relationship with specialists in the community and can expedite a referral to them when needed. Dedicated referral nurses at the SHCP facilitate scheduling with the specialist’s office. We annually refer students for services in dermatology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, cardiology, ENT, dentistry, and others.
SHCP providers are available to evaluate and treat many injuries and common painful conditions related to muscles, bones, and joints. If the problem is beyond our scope, we will arrange a referral to our Sports Medicine Center at University Medical Center or to a local orthopedist.
Our providers are able to diagnose and treat common dermatological problems. For severe problems, our staff can assist with a referral to a qualified dermatologist in the area.
At the SHCP, our providers will order tests specifically related to your symptoms, and the specimen will be collected at the lab in our building.
Depending on the tests requested and performed, your insurance may or may not cover the billed charges for the testing. Unfortunately, we cannot determine whether a test will be covered prior to performing the test. If your insurance does not cover the test, you will either be billed directly by the lab or by the SHCP. If you wish to see the a SHCP provider for these services, you are acknowledging you understand that you could be responsible for the entire bill, which includes office visit charge and lab charges.
If you are unsure that your insurance will cover testing, or you do not wish to pay out of pocket for testing, you can go to the Alabama Department of Public Health which provides free STI screening.
The Alabama Department of Public Health for Tuscaloosa County is located at 2350 Hargrove Road East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405, and can be reached at 205-562-6900.
Another community option for STI and HIV testing available in Tuscaloosa is Five Horizons Health Services. Through federal and other sources of funding, Five Horizons Health Services, provides some reduced and free options for testing. Five Horizons is located at 2720 6th Street and the phone number is 205-759-8470. Our providers can refer you if you are concerned about the high cost of certain testing for STIs.