UH health fees to hit $68 a semester
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Health fees at the University of Hawaii at Manoa will nearly quadruple over five years from the current $17.50 to $68 a semester under a proposal approved last month by the Board of Regents.
Fees would go up $10.50, to $28, this fall semester and increase by $10 each year afterward. Summer session fees would increase by $4 a year over five years from the current $6 per summer to $26.
Students testified at last month's Board of Regents meeting, supporting the fee increase to help health services become more self-supporting and pay for increased costs, new equipment and expanding services at the health center.
The on-campus clinic provides basic medical treatment and prescriptions for about 20,000 students. Many students unable to afford insurance depend on the clinic's services and pay co-payments averaging $10 to $12 a visit, explained University Health Services Director Lilly Ning.
To keep visits affordable, the clinic did not want to increase fees for services, according to an executive summary of the fee increase.
"If this service wasn't offered, a lot of students wouldn't have any health care whatsoever," Dawn Baxter, a student member of the Health Advisory Council at UH-Manoa, told regents.
Student regent Michael Dahilig had reservations about the health fee increase but still voted for it.
"It seems like a real steep increase for me," Dahilig said, "but I'm taking the administration at their word (that the increase is necessary)."
On the Manoa campus, many students were unaware of the fee increase or of the existence of the University Health Services clinic on East-West Road.
"Students have a lot on their plate right now with all the fee increases. This one comes at a very inopportune time. I really empathize with the students who have to pay for this," said UH student Megan Chock.
"That's a pretty big change. I'm surprised to hear about it," said UH junior Aaron Davis. But he said, "I understand it's important to have this health service on campus."
"Why are they charging us when we don't even use it?" mused students Lanel Lavarias and Danica Lim.
Officials from the health center told regents the fee increase might allow the clinic to extend its hours to service more students. They also said students who do not use the clinic still benefit through education and outreach programs.
Chris Niemczyk, who needed braces to walk up to the lectern to testify last month, said, "The health center is a vital part of the university community. I think the care I have received at the health center has been very, very good."
The Graduate Students Association at UH-Manoa supported the fee increase, but the undergraduate Associated Students of the University of Hawaii failed to pass a resolution supporting the higher health fees.
According to the University Health Services office, the health services fee is below comparable fees of mainland universities, which average $121.39 per semester.