Health Opportunity Fund helps students cover medical costs

Photo of the Tang center
Antonio Martin/Staff
With funds rolling over from the previous year, the Health Opportunity Fund is able to offer more aid to students to cover campus medical expenses this academic year.

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The Health Opportunity Fund, or HOF, will cover $350 in medical costs for eligible students this academic year.

According to University Health Services, or UHS, spokesperson Tami Cate, there are three categories of students who are eligible for the HOF: Pell Grant and Dream Aid recipients, graduate students who have Pell Grant equivalent eligibility and students who are registered in the Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP.

“The ASUC, UHS Tang Center, Equity and Inclusion, and Student Affairs have collaborated with the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Service Fees and the Wellness Initiative Fee Advisory Committee to offer funds to students to help offset charges at the Tang Center,” Cate said in an email.

Cate added that while the HOF was only able to offer $175 per eligible student last year, many students were not present on campus to use those funds. As a result, much of the money rolled over to this year, allowing HOF to offer twice the amount.

Funding for the HOF comes from the campus Division of Equity and Inclusion, the Division of Student Affairs, the Wellness Initiative Fee Advisory Committee and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Service Fees.

Carlos Vázquez, co-chair of the ASUC Disabled Students Commission, said he believed the fund will be beneficial for students with disabilities, who may have higher medical costs than students without disabilities.

“I do see (costs) double or triple times higher than nondisabled students,” Vázquez said. “That’s a result of needing special medical equipment, getting special prescriptions, among other assistive technologies like wheelchairs, crutches, braces. Also, it includes frequent visits to mental health counseling.”

However, Vázquez also noted that medical institutions such as UHS have a “history” of ignoring the needs of students with disabilities. Vázquez cited the lack of physical therapy available to students with disabilities, since he alleged that UHS gears its physical therapy toward athletic or temporary injury recovery.

ASUC senator Kalli Zervas, who is also a member of the DSP, said in an email that though the HOF will help students with disabilities, more assistance is needed. She cited her own experiences as a student with disabilities, noting she paid about $2000 in medical costs last year.

Zervas said in the email that she feels campus has repeatedly put students with disabilities “on the back burner,” adding that offering only $350 for eligible students is “laughable.”

“Although the HOF fund positively benefits DSP students in regards to medical costs, it is not by any means enough,” Zervas said in the email.

Contact Chris at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @ChrisYingg.