It is our hope that the Student Health Center and Pharmacy (SHCP) FAQ section below will help you better understand how to navigate the often-complex field relating to your health and wellbeing. We are here to help you get well and stay well during your college years, so please select the topic from the below list.
Visit our About SHCP for an overview of services we offer.
Yes, you can still be seen without your insurance card as an enrolled student. However, if we do not receive the student’s insurance card the day of the visit, then we must receive it within 48 hours. If the insurance card is not received within 48 hours, all charges will be billed to the student account.
You can have your insurance card faxed (205-348-9850) or photographed and emailed to SHC. The following information is needed:
If you are unable to provide this information yourself, a call to your parents the day of the visit can facilitate the information being provided and avoid all charges going to your student account.
Important: Carrying your health insurance card is as important as having your driver’s license with you at all times. No matter where you are seen for health care, you need to have your insurance card. Some students have saved insurance photos on their cell phone, both front and back images.
Note: Insurance coverage can change at any time, such as when parent/guardian changes jobs, their employer changes carriers, etc. Just as other health care settings, at each visit, students should present their health insurance card to the SHC receptionist to verify continued coverage and that SHC still can accept your coverage; this is done electronically at the time of check-in. This spares you from unexpected changes in your coverage.
Medicaid is a state-specific form of health insurance. For that reason, it can only be used in your home state where it was issued. Unfortunately, neither the SHC nor other health care providers can bill on out of state Medicaid. SHC strongly encourages all students to have health care insurance to cover the cost of essential health services. Staying healthy is one of the keys to academic success
What are my options if I have Medicaid from another state?
Yes, you can still be seen. Students are not required to be covered by insurance to be seen at the Student Health Center. However, the Student Health Center recommends that all students be covered by a health insurance plan while attending the University of Alabama to help cover the costs of their healthcare.
Demonstrating no insurance requires us to have:
Billing for services: As with any health care entity, you will be charged for the visit. There are two options for students who do not have insurance coverage personally or under their parent’s insurance policy. It is also important to note that out of state students who have Medicaid insurance in their home state can only use that insurance coverage in the state where it is issued.
Yes, it will continue until it concludes on July 31st. If you will graduate earlier than that, you will need to seek health care at University Medical Center or the community resources.
However, if you bought insurance on a semester basis instead and the coverage ends in May when you graduate and you wish to extend the coverage, you will need to purchase a continuation policy beyond May through UHCSR by contacting them directly.
Prevention measures are best. Reducing the frequency of illnesses essentially revolves around the observance of appropriate hygiene considerations.
We are extremely fortunate to have DCH Regional Medical Center within two blocks of the Student Health Center and Pharmacy. DCH Regional Medical Center is a full-service referral medical center with the region’s most advanced trauma center and intensive care units. Our staff works closely with DCH Administration, the physicians who practice there and its Emergency Department. For more information see the DCH website
Privacy, confidentiality of records and their release are governed by two distinctly different federal laws for the Student Health Center and for the hospital. See Privacy and Confidentiality for more details.
The parking lot in front of both University Medical Center and Student Health Center is for patient parking only. If you get a ticket and you were seen as a patient at either centers, you can get the ticket dropped, which requires verification of a clinic visit from an official at either site. With a copy of your ticket, we can verify and call Parking to have it removed.
Anyone who parks in these spaces, other than for patient care, cannot have their tickets invalidated by either SHC or University Medical Center.
When the university is closed, the SHC is closed. For convenience, when UA is closed you may go to University Medical Center, which is located at the opposite end of the SHC building.
For those on the University-sponsored health insurance plan through United Health Care Student Resources, it has been negotiated that if you go to University Medical Center when SHC is closed, you will avoid a higher out-of-pocket expense.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, proceed to the nearest hospital, DCH Regional Medical Center just a block away, or call 911.
Similar to your home physician, our providers are skilled at assessment and treatment of routine mental health conditions. We are also very familiar with campus-based resources that may be appropriate for your support, such as the Counseling Center, the Women and Gender Resource Center, the Student Care and Wellbeing office, the Psychology Clinic, the Family Therapy Clinic, and Collegiate Recovery and Intervention Services.
Psychiatry Services at SHC are available when more specialized help is needed. The Student Health Center has 3 full-time psychiatrists who provide evaluations, ongoing support, and assist with medications on a referral basis. You can make an appointment by calling 205-348-8262. Visit the Psychiatry section of our website for more information.
First and foremost, our staff is committed to providing competent care to students at UA. We are aware this may be your first-time seeking care away from home and want to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Your first visit will include a review of your medical history and family history.
Vital signs and typical questions related to your current signs/symptoms are all taken by licensed practical nurses in advance of your seeing the provider.
The provider will evaluate your current needs and provide evidenced-based care. Plans for follow-up care will be explained to you. Please listen carefully and follow advice for best ongoing care. Always return if your illness changes or does not improve.
If medications are prescribed, our pharmacy located in the lobby can provide most of your needs. In only a few circumstances, your specific health insurance plan may require a specific commercial pharmacy and we will e-prescribe that prescription to that source.
Most common over-the-counter medications can be obtained at our onsite pharmacy.
As with any health care practice, there are peak times of the day when the volume is typically higher than others and therefore the potential wait is longer. Coming early (8-10 a.m.) is a good idea as this is a less busy time.
When there are outbreaks of illness on campus (like the flu, GI illnesses, Strep throat, etc.), everyone is busy due to the demand.
We recognize that our students are often navigating the healthcare environment for the first time without parental involvement, which may require the provider to take additional time interviewing and addressing the student’s concerns.
Our providers take great care to educate our students about their diagnosis and provide the best treatment that follows all recognized and accepted standards of care. Education is an essential part of the visit.
That depends on you. As the patient, you are in control of what information is shared, with whom and under what circumstances. You must sign a Release of Information form with our Medical Records department to allow us to talk your parents/guardian or other health care providers. We keep this on file in your medical record. This is a common practice among health care providers, hospitals, etc. You can change this information any time, limit the release to a certain date(s), and restrict what cannot be shared. You may want to change your form if there is a misunderstanding about your care and your parents/guardians are very concerned. We find that sharing a call with your parent and your provider may alleviate their concerns. Again, you can limit that discussion to the topic/issue you agree to discuss.
We encourage our students to take personal responsibility for their own health and learn to navigate the healthcare environment independently. Our intent is to facilitate that process in a collaborative way with our students. Learn more about privacy and confidentiality.
Sometimes it is in the patient’s best interest to use an over-the-counter medication to ease the symptoms while the body fights the infection, specifically viral ones. A prescription just may not be indicated and not consistent with current evidenced-based medical care. When over-the-counter medications are the most appropriate option, we attempt to educate students on the reason that a prescription would not be indicated and provide follow up recommendations should a change in symptoms or their intensity occur.
The national issue with use and overuse of antibiotics. Many students and parents think that an antibiotic may always be the answer and that is not accurate. Prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed leads to the promotion of antibiotic resistant bacteria; in addition, remember that antibiotics take away good bacteria in the gut. Responsible medical care means using prescription medications when they are clinically indicated.
When an initial illness does not get better. Students are consistently advised to return if symptoms get worse usually within a few days. Sometimes there could be a secondary infection that has occurred or what was apparent initially has more fully developed into a different diagnosis. In this case, the treatment may well need to change and communication with the provider is very important.
Pharmacological guidelines for prescription use. Finally, while the overprescribing of antibiotics is of concern in the US, there has become an unfortunate economic incentive by some practitioners to ensure that a patient’s demand for unnecessary prescriptions or injections are fulfilled. However, at SHC we place the patient’s welfare as our highest priority and make every effort to refrain from prescribing unnecessary medications, particularly antibiotics. In addition, this dedication and adherence to the highest standard of care especially extends to medications with the potential for dependence or abuse known to be problematic in the college population in the US.
Your comments are important to us as your health and wellbeing is our sole mission in support of your academic success. There are three key ways to communicate with us:
Your prescription label will tell you if there are refills available, so check for that information first. If not, you will need to have it renewed with the provider for a new prescription. If you are trying to refill a prescription from your home pharmacy, you can call and provide the name of your medication, pharmacy, and your pharmacy’s phone number and our SHC Pharmacy staff will call your home pharmacy to transfer your prescription.
There are 3 ways you can obtain a refill by request:
There are two different federal laws that regulate privacy and confidentiality of health/medical records and the release of these records.
FERPA refers only to student health centers, like UA SHC, who only provide care to university students.
The Student Health Center and Pharmacy is under the protections of FERPA, which is a US Federal law that governs educational systems. We must honor the wishes of our student patients when it involves the disclosure of their PHI to anyone, including their parents. Students are required to sign an ROI (Release of Information) form which directs us for any verbal, electronic, or written release of any information regarding their care. The student may rescind any current ROI signed at any time. The student may also allow some information to be released and other information to be restricted. Except in an extraordinary situation, the Student Health Center may not violate that ROI. Even though parents/guardians are generally paying for their student’s education and their health insurance is under their parent/guardian’s policy, we are required by this law to honor the student’s wishes with regards to disclosing PHI. There are severe penalties to an institution for violations of this federal regulation.
HIPAA refers to those hospitals and other health care entities who are not restricted in those for whom they provide medical care and treatment, such as hospitals, rehab centers, physician practices, nursing homes, etc.
Hospitals and other health care entities that are not restricted to university students only are governed by HIPAA which is the US legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information and Protected Health Information (PHI). For this reason, hospitals must also comply with the wishes for privacy of information and release or restriction of information sharing to anyone, including parents. There are also severe penalties for violations of this regulation to hospitals and other health care entities. Exceptions are few and would represent extraordinary situations.
Yes. For unique and specialized needs beyond our scope, the SHC has a strong relationship with specialists in the community and can expedite a referral to them when needed. Dedicated referral nurses at SHC facilitate the scheduling with the specialist’s office. We have about 1,800-2,000 referrals annually to services such as dermatology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, cardiology, ENT, dentistry, and others.
The Student Health Center providers are available to evaluate and treat many injuries and common painful conditions related to muscles, bones, and joints. If the problem is beyond our scope, we will arrange a referral to our Sports Medicine Center in the University Medical Center or to a local orthopedist.
Our providers are able to diagnose and treat common dermatological problems. For severe problems, our staff can assist with a referral to a qualified dermatologist in the area.
At SHC, the providers will order a panel specifically related to your signs and symptoms. You will go to the Lab in our building for the specimen to be collected.
Depending on the tests requested and performed, your insurance may or may not cover the billed charges for the testing. Unfortunately, we cannot ascertain whether a test will be covered prior to performing the test. If your insurance determines that the test is not covered, you will either be billed directly by the lab or by SHC. If you wish to see the SHC provider for these services you are acknowledging that you understand that you could be responsible for the entire bill, which includes the SHC office visit charge as well as the charges billed to you directly by the performing testing facility.
If you are unsure that your insurance will cover the testing, or you do not wish to pay out of pocket for the testing, you do have the option to go to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) for testing. The ADPH provides free STI screening for the most common diseases.
The Alabama Department of Public Health for Tuscaloosa County is located at 2350 Hargrove Road East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405, and can be reached at 205-562-6900.
Another community option for STI and HIV testing available in Tuscaloosa is Five Horizons Health Services. Through federal and other sources of funding, Five Horizons Health Services, provides some reduced and free options for definitive testing. Their location is 2720 6th Street and phone number is 205-759-8470. Our providers can refer you to them when you are concerned about the high cost of certain testing for STIs and STDs.