Health Care – A Guide for College Students
As a student, it is likely you are living away from home and away from your doctor or usual access to medical care. So, if you need medical care here in Aggieland, do you know where to go and how to pay for it?
The following is a brief guide to help you better understand some of the basics.
WHERE TO GO
First of all, if you believe you need immediate care for a medical emergency, don’t worry about knowing where to go. CALL 9-1-1 and the experts will assist you.
Otherwise, it’s best to know in advance where to seek medical care. However, knowing where to go can be confusing, especially when there are so many different facilities to choose from. Primary care offices, urgent cares, emergency rooms, and hospitals are the most common locations for care, and although they may seem similar, they each serve different needs.
Primary Care Office
Ideally, everyone should have a longstanding relationship with a primary care physician to monitor long term health and chronic medical conditions. As the name implies, these physicians should be your primary destination for care that is not urgent or emergent.
However, especially while away at school, you may not have such a relationship, your physician might not have an appointment available, or your condition might need more immediate attention. In these situations, an urgent care or emergency room is your best option.
A simple way to think of an urgent care is to think of it as a primary care office for acute, minor problems with more hours of availability. Their capabilities and costs are essentially the same as primary care offices.
If you have any minor illness or injury, an urgent care is an excellent place to start. Some of the most common reasons for visiting an urgent care include:
- Small Burns
- Ear Infections
- Flu shots
- Fractures or sprains
- Sinus Infections
- Sports Injuries
- Strep Throat
- TB tests
- Skin Infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
Urgent cares do not require appointments, though some offer appointments for your convenience.
Urgent cares are not open 24 hours a day but are usually open later than primary care offices during the week, are typically open on weekends, and are sometimes open on holidays. For example, CapRock Urgent Care located across from campus is open 8 AM – 8 PM, Monday – Saturday, including most holidays.
Emergency Room (ER)
Emergency rooms offer a greater range of diagnosis and treatment capabilities than a primary care office or urgent care, with medical personnel specially trained to triage and care for emergent/ traumatic medical cases. Unlike primary care offices or urgent cares, all emergency rooms are required to be available 24 hours of every day, including all holidays.
While all hospitals have emergency rooms, there are many licensed freestanding ER’s as well. Freestanding ERs are not physically connected to a hospital but are required by law to provide the same services as hospital-based ER’s.
For example, CapRock Hospital in Bryan consists of both an ER and an in-patient wing, while CapRock 24-Hour ER in College Station is a stand-alone ER facility. Both are fully capable of treating any medical condition, including life-threatening emergencies, every hour of every day.
All hospitals include an ER and thus can care for all emergent medical needs; however, they also provide the ability to care for patients for extended periods of time as inpatients. Larger hospitals usually perform surgeries and out-patient procedures.
Essentially no hospital provides every type of care. So, any hospital may redirect operations or procedures to other hospitals or providers as needed.
HOW DO YOU PAY?
There are multiple ways to pay for medical care. Utilizing a health insurance plan and cash pay are the most common.
Understanding your insurance plan is essential! While health insurance plans are complicated, healthcare can be expensive, so understanding your coverage is critical. The same applies if covered under the policy of a parent or guardian. Make sure you discuss your insurance plan, including copays and deductibles, in advance and have a copy of your insurance card in your possession. Additionally, you can also call your insurance carrier to discuss your policy with them directly.
While there are multiple plans, some generalizations can be made:
1) Even if you have “good” insurance, once you receive medical care, you usually will be responsible for paying some part of the cost of care in addition to what your insurance paid. This amount varies depending upon the type of plan you have, your deductible, which physician you saw, network stats of the physician and the type of care you received. So, for non-emergent care, understanding your health plan is important.
2) Emergency care, on the other hand, is different. To protect you during an emergency, State and Federal law require all commercial insurers (except Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare) to cover all emergency care under your in-network benefits. During an emergency, you need not, and should not, delay while determining which ER would be cheaper because your insurer is required to pay the in- network benefit at every licensed ER and hospital in the state.
If you are not using insurance, then you will be paying for your medical care directly and are responsible for payment for all services rendered. Most facilities have reduced cash pay prices for the care you receive. CapRock Health has the lowest self-pay rates in the area!
ASK US AT CAPROCK
If you have any questions, we encourage you to stop by or call us at 979.314.2323.
What if I end up at the wrong CapRock location for my care?
If you visit either CapRock Hospital or CapRock 24-Hour ER and are unsure whether your medical need is emergent or non-emergent, our doctors will provide a free medical examination to determine the level of care you require. If the doctor feels your condition is not an emergency, and you prefer not to complete treatment at the ER, you (or your insurance) will not be billed for any services up to that point, and our doctor will direct you to other options for your care.
Alternatively, if you visit CapRock Urgent Care and your medical needs are determined to require care at an emergency room, CapRock will apply your urgent care fee toward your ER bill, that way you won’t be billed twice for a single evaluation. Furthermore, if you require an ambulance transfer, we will transport you free of charge to one of our ER facilities.
How do you handle billing and insurance?
At Caprock, we have a dedicated, friendly, in-house financial team to assist patients with their billing and insurance questions. CapRock invites you to contact us regarding your insurance, regardless of whether you were, are or may be a patient at one of our facilities.
ABOUT CAPROCK HEALTH
CapRock currently has three facilities in Bryan/College Station to serve you! Our urgent care is the closest to campus urgent care in College Station. Plus, both of our ER facilities always have ZERO wait for emergency care. Our facilities are state-of-the-art, and our extremely qualified doctors, nurses, and staff, always put the patient first!
CapRock Urgent Care @ Century Square
1289 University Drive College Station 77840
CapRock 24-Hour ER
948 William D. Fitch Parkway, College Station, 77845
CapRock Hospital & ER
3134 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan 77802