Michelle Coneo, Contributing Writer
Imagine running late to class and getting into a car accident on your way to school and
having no health insurance.
Medical accidents can become the extra bullet point on the expenses list that several college students cannot afford. Being young does not guarantee an uneventful health record. In
fact, the stress and anxiety from school, or whatever part-time job one might have, makes the risk of health issues become greater by the day.
The overwhelming schedule of working students often causes them to put on hold their
own physical and mental wellness, leaving their need for health coverage far behind their
priorities and forgetting the importance of it.
“Going to a doctor yearly prevents you from getting certain things and certain diseases,”
said Dania Huie-Pasigan, Registered Nurse (RN) at Bergen Community College.
In many cases, college students, because of their age, immigration status or even due to
their parents’ job, are unable to be under a health insurance that might cover their basic needs such as visits to the emergency room and appointments for physical exams that many
times are required by schools as a part of their enrollment process.
It is mandated by the United States government that institutions provide insurance for their students; through the web page here and their 24-hour hotline 1-800-318-2596, students interested in getting insurance can fill out a form and sign up to access a list of low-cost coverage, if not free, for as long as the student meets the qualification requirements.
However, there are many tools college students today are to take advantage of, from the
already mentioned low-cost health insurances offered by private insurances to federal and state-funded health insurance programs such as NJ Family Care that have accessible websites with information about them.
The Department of Health Services here at Bergen Community College, works closely
with at least three friendly-funded clinics in the area, including the North Hudson Community
Action Corporation located in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties to which students are
referred to be able to receive medical assistance by appointment based on a sliding fee scale provided and calculated by these clinics for as low as $30.
Yet, it is clear that college students have other things to pay such as tuition and the low-
income friendly programs offered might not be the most affordable option. In these cases, the
Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) program would be the ideal choice to meet the
medical needs of these uninsured students providing free primary, preventive, urgent and chronic medical care to low-income working Bergen County residents.
Similarly, NJ Family Care is a publicly funded health insurance program that helps
qualified New Jersey residents of any age to have access to free coverage among other options of insurances and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The list of eligibility requirements can be found on their website here as well as the application form
that can also be filled on the phone with the assistance of a representative by calling the hotline 1-800-701-0710.
For any questions or help regarding the application process of any of these programs, a
phone number to contact is 201-447-9257 for the Health Services office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m to 3:00 p.m. in the Pitkin
Education Center in room HS-100.