Off Campus Medical or Mental Health Care
For some college students faced with medical or mental health problems, it may make sense to find care off campus. Here are some considerations in making the decision and managing care off campus.
Why might you choose to seek care off campus?
- Your campus health system does not have the services or care you need. Many campus health and mental health services provide short term care for fairly simple problems (this is called basic “primary care”). If you have a more complicated or chronic problem requiring consistent or special care (examples might be diabetes, cancer or chronic depression) you may be better serviced with an off-campus clinician you can see all through your college years.
- Privacy. Although campus health and counseling services make every effort to respect and protect student privacy, some students may prefer a private therapist or doctor’s office. If worries about privacy might stop you from getting care, you should consider seeing someone off campus.
- Convenience. If you live far from campus or don’t spend much time at school, finding medical or mental health care off campus, and closer to where you live, may make more sense.
What do you need to consider in receiving off campus care?
- Cost. Most care at campus health and counseling services is free. This will not be the case for private care. You may be able to find lower cost or sliding cost care in some clinics. Hopefully you have health insurance which may cover some of the cost of care but not necessarily all of it.
- Insurance. It is important for everyone to have health insurance and you should know the basics of your plan (read more about health insurance). Most clinicians accept only certain plans (and even if the plan is accepted, you may still have to pay something). Make sure you discuss this with any doctor or therapist before going to see them.
- Privacy. Here is the other side of privacy considerations. If you use health insurance for a visit to any clinician and you are on your family’s insurance plan, they will get a report of this visit. This is not necessarily a problem but something to be aware of.
- Location. If you will need regular visits, it is important to consider how far away or accessible the doctor/therapist is from your home or campus.