UHS to Charge No-Shows $10

After 12,000 visits missed or canceled last year, UHS to decrease cost of "dinkas"

Students who miss appointments at University Health Services will find themselves out of pocket starting Oct. 16, when the University begins charging $10 for each absence.

The move is an effort to shorten waiting lists at the University’s medical and mental health services.

According to the director of University Health Services (UHS), David S. Rosenthal ’59, the fine was recommended by the Student Health Planning Center, a group of administrators and students that expressed concern about the cost of “dinkas”—patients whose records are marked with “did not keep appointment.”

Of the 180,000 visits scheduled with UHS last year, 12,000 were missed or canceled less than 24 hours ahead of time, according to Rosenthal.

He estimated that the figure was as high as 15 percent for services in the highest demand, such as dermatology and mental health.

Rosenthal would not say how much “dinkas” cost UHS.

Chief of Mental Health Services Richard D. Kadison and Chief of Medicine Soheyla D. Gharib did not return requests for comment.

Joseph K. Lee ’07, chair of the Community Health Initiative, said he thinks the fines will improve health provisions.

“If it can increase the number of people UHS can see, then it’s for the best,” he said.

It is unclear how the fine will affect student behavior.

“It will be like an experiment,” said Burak Tekin ’08, who said he could not predict whether the fine will discourage students from booking a UHS appointment or result in shorter waiting times and greater confidence in UHS.

“It will take a long time to see,” said Tekin, who added that he once waited a month to see a nutritionist there.

“It’s fair if it’s going to help other students,” said Ercan Aksu ’08. He might be less likely to make an appointment after the change, he added.

“We don’t want to go this route,” said Rosenthal, “but we want to prevent no-shows.”

Like fines for dirty or damaged rooms and the $25 fee which already applies to missed dental appointments, the charge will be term-billed by the University.

The money raised will go towards student health programs such as the Community Health Initiative, Rosenthal wrote in an e-mail.

Students will have up to 24 hours to cancel meetings without penalty and will continue to receive e-mails reminding them of their appointments. It will also be possible to cancel by telephone.

An appeals process will be installed as well.

—Staff writer John R. Macartney can be reached at jmacartn@fas.harvard.edu.