College to Institute New Health Services Fee

Elizabeth Dobbins, Staff Writer

Dean of Students Eric Estes met with Student Senate last month to announce the institution of a $200 health services fee to be introduced next school year. The funds will go toward hiring an additional full-time counselor for the Counseling Center, hiring a staff member to coordinate Student Health Services and initiatives on campus, extending Student Health Services hours and reducing the cost of other health services. The fee will be covered by financial aid for both lower- and moderate- income students.

Estes stated in an email to the Review, “If there was going to be a fee, we wanted to make sure financial aid protected moderate and needy students, and that a big chunk of the fee went to fund new and enhanced resources for students.”

The fee is separate from student health insurance, the price of which will increase by one percent next year. The decision to institute a fee, as opposed to drastically increasing the cost of insurance, was made in an effort to minimize the fee’s impact on students who rely on financial aid.

“About 700 students at Oberlin buy the health insurance each year. They are often international or more financially needy students,” said Estes. “Adding a significant health fee to the cost of the insurance would essentially be saying that those students should pay to subsidize student health services for the other 2,200 students. Some schools have gone this way either disclosing, or in some cases not disclosing, the added fee. We felt that this was not equitable or transparent,” Estes said.

Estes met with Student Senate before spring break to discuss the policy, and Senate is currently drafting a resolution to endorse the fee.

“We generally felt that the benefits in increased services resulting from this fee were very exciting and represented changes that students have long desired in Oberlin’s Student Health Services,” said Joseph Condon, student senator and College senior, said via email.

“Personally, I think that better Student Health Services are sorely needed, and while I’m always dubious of new fees, bringing back a student health fee will allow for those improved services that, frankly, are long overdue,” Condon said.

The student body will have the opportunity to offer input on the new fee next week. On Monday, April 8, and Friday, April 12, from 3–4 p.m., the Student Health Advisory Committee will be holding sessions in Azariah’s for students to raise concerns or offer feedback.