Letter to the Editor

SABRINA OTERO

Salem College is my home. I love the bricks, I love my instructors, I truly love my people. I feel safe in the cafe booth working on assignments, eating a muffin, and drinking a latte that gives me energy to continue my day.

Then on May 27, 2016, we received a message in our inboxes. Laina wrote that the school would no longer offer us health insurance. The panic set in. I scanned the email multiple times feeling the fear rise within me.

My Medicaid lapsed during the summer and I felt safe knowing I could rely on school insurance. For 118 days until I was able to get Medicaid I lived in fear. I could not see a counselor; I couldn’t go to a doctor. I lived in pain, in mental disarray, and worst of all fear. I saw friends fade away because they were found out. The pain got so bad they tried to seek medical help, but instead they were silenced and ushered out of our school with nowhere to turn.

Now, I fear that I will lose my insurance again and will no longer receive the help I need. Salem College is no longer my home. I fear tripping on the bricks and not being able to seek medical treatment. I fear I will no longer be able to learn from my loved instructors. I fear I will no longer be able to see my people. How can students be successful if they live in fear that they will have to relocate in order to receive medical treatment?

Students should not worry about having access to therapists, doctors, and medication. Let’s change that fellow Salem Siblings.

_______________________

Below is the email that was sent to students in the Spring of 2016:

Dear Salem Students,

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all U.S. citizens to have health insurance, Because of this federal mandate, it is expected that you will have health insurance to cover your needs while you are enrolled as a student at Salem.  In light of this federal requirement, Salem will no longer offer a student health insurance product for purchase and will no longer require the waiver process.

Please make sure that your health insurance will be able to cover your healthcare needs while you are living here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Contact information for your insurance company should be on the back of your card. Most insurance companies will cover emergencies, as defined by them, but not all will cover routine illnesses or mental health appointments and emergencies in all areas of the country.

If you discover that your insurance will not cover your needs while you are at Salem, you may wish to purchase additional coverage through the Federal Insurance Exchange at healthinsurance.gov or from your insurance provider.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Having a sufficient health insurance plan in place throughout your time at Salem will be critically important to completing your degree.

Be well!

Laina Smith, RN, BSN, BC

Director, Health Services

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