Survey: More than third of CSUN students lack health insurance

Ana Guerra

Daily Sundial

Ivan Martinez, a CSUN junior, is hoping that his luck doesn’t run out.

“For now, I just hope nothing serious happens,” Martinez said. “I consider myself pretty healthy, but watch and I’ll end up getting sick tomorrow.”

Like many CSUN students, Martinez has no health insurance. If he becomes sick or has an accident that puts him in the hospital, he could end up owing thousand of dollars in medical bills.

Martinez is uninsured and said he is waiting for a job that has health benefits because he cannot afford it right now.

There are thousands of CSUN students in the same situation as Martinez.

An informal survey conducted by the Klotz Student Health Center last fall found that 30 to 40 percent of current students have no health insurance.

Many students leave out health insurance when they budget for financial necessities, unlike car insurance, which is a legal obligation for most.

Many students cite the high cost of insurance and the general good health of most people their age for the reasons for not getting health insurance.

“When I was 18, and even for many years thereafter, I thought I was invincible,” said David Crandall, general manager of Associated Students. “Students are going to have to make a tough choice because they’re choosing between something else they might want to purchase with their insurance premium. It really is a hedge between what could be an avoidable disaster.”

Students who are insured are often covered by their parents’ policies or have coverage through their jobs.

Shannon Leclercq, a 25-year-old CSUN junior, chose to pay for her insurance after her parents’ coverage ended when she was 23.

“Luckily, nothing serious happened,” Leclercq said. “I didn’t have insurance and then decided it would probably be a smart idea just in case.”

While Leclercq’s premium is more than $100 a month, she said the cost is worth it when compared to getting sick and having a $10,000 hospital bill.

One way to cut costs on medical expenses is to take advantage of the benefits that come with paying the $50 health center fee included in tuition. Services range from annual physicals to alcohol and drug counseling.

CSUN freshman Melissa Monzon is from the Long Beach area. While covered under her parents insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Monzon visits the health center for annual check-ups and medication instead of going to her primary doctor.

“I wear contacts and the health center has dental and eye care,” Monzon said. “We have a doctor back home, and even though we have insurance, it’s more expensive than it is here.”

Monzon’s current coverage ends in three years. She said at that point, hopefully, she’ll be working full-time and be given benefits.

“You can’t always depend on your parents to pay, and you want to be independent,” Monzon said. “When you first come to college, most people don’t think about health insurance, but once you’re more on your own, you become more aware of it.”

Many students like Saul Gudino, a CSUN junior who works full-time, are offered benefits through their jobs. Gudino use to be uninsured and said he went to the health center last year three times for back pain.

“We have the need but I think females use the health center more,” Gudino said. “Men don’t go for check-ups. We just go when we feel like we’re dying.”

Gudino said it depends on how much he needs to pay and for most guys it’s a matter of toughening up when they are sick.

For around $20 a month, students can obtain coverage for occurrences ranging from a minor car accident to appendicitis.

Ana Guerra can be reached at city@csun.edu.