Response to Gay student shares story of discrimination at Student Health Services

The following is a letter to the editor in response to Gay student shares story of discrimination at Student Health Services from Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Gene Chelberg.

The health, well-being and safety of all SF State students is of primary importance to us in Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, especially those working in the Student Health Services Fee funded units (Counseling & Psychological Services, Health Promotion & Wellness and Student Health Services). Student Health Services (SHS) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, veteran’s status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression in the provision of medical treatment and care. Consequently, we were quite concerned to read of Jose Francisco’s recent experience at SHS as detailed in his opinion piece on March 9, 2017.

SHS provides basic medical services to all currently enrolled students who pay the Student Health Services Fee.   However, the fee does not cover most laboratory tests, including those for HIV and STIs. Therefore, all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identification, are charged by SHS for the costs associated with these types of tests.

If students have a financial need that prevents them from being able to afford the charges for the tests, SHS offers the following three options:

  1. Refer them to their personal or family health insurance, if they have it; 2. If they don’t have health insurance, refer them to any one of several SF community clinics that provide free HIV/STI testing, such as Planned Parenthood or Strut, a community-based organization that provides sexual health and medical services for men who have sex with men; and 3. If they meet the eligibility requirements, enroll them in Family PACT.

The requirements to enroll in Family Pact are set forth by the State of California in compliance with federal guidelines. The four eligibility criteria for enrollment in Family PACT are as follows:

  1. California residency;
  2. Family income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines;
  3. No access to other source of health care coverage for family planning services, or do not meet the criteria specified for eligibility with Other Health Coverage; and,
  4. Have a medical necessity for family planning services.

If a student does not meet all four eligibility criteria, SHS is unable to seek reimbursement, on their behalf, from Family PACT for the cost of any HIV/STI lab tests.

We have reached out to Mr. Francisco to discuss his experience and to explore any recommendations that he may have for enhancing SHS services. Navigating the details of health care reimbursement can be frustrating and difficult, particularly in the ever-changing health care landscape. SHS is continuously seeking opportunities to identify new resources to provide low-no cost health services to all SF State students. We welcome feedback and ideas for how we might improve the services provided to the student community.

Gene Chelberg

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs