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UHS Notice Surprises Illness Victims

By Heather B. Long, Crimson Staff Writer

When Kate E. Sharaf '01-'02 of Cabot House spent the night in Stillman Infirmary for viral gastroenteritis last month, she didn't know it was a hospital stay until she received a form from University Health Services (UHS) earlier this week.

The form, which arrived late due to a mail service mishap, required Sharaf-who chose not to be covered under Harvard's health insurance plan-to provide insurance information so her health care provider could be billed for her stay.

"I didn't realize it was a hospital stay because it didn't seem like a hospital," she said. "I felt like maybe when I was signing out they should've said this was a hospital stay. No one told me insurance had to cover it, so I didn't call them."

Sharaf, one of 10 Cabot House residents admitted to Stillman for a hospital stay after last month's outbreak of viral gastroenteritis, said she was unaware that her stay would not be covered under the UHS fee, required of all students as part of the tuition package.

But UHS Director David S. Rosenthal '59 said Harvard provides students with a list of all services covered under the fee at the beginning of the year.

"The student health services fee is listed separately so people will know what they're paying for and use UHS," Rosenthal.

The fee covers most medical services within UHS, but does not cover stays in Stillman.

Located on the fifth floor of UHS, the infirmary, with a dozen beds and full time staff of three to five, is classified as a hospital and therefore must be separately covered under health insurance.

In their tuition package, students can choose either to be covered under Harvard's Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plan or to sign a waiver saying that they wish to be covered under their parents' insurance.

Faiz R. Shakir '02, who is covered under the Harvard plan, said he did not receive a bill from UHS for his Stillman stay.

"I haven't gotten anything yet," he said.

By Massachusetts state law, no student is allowed to waive Harvard health insurance unless they have an alternative provider.

And, regardless of their insurance package, no student ever gets a bill directly from UHS-all bills come directly from the insurance provider.

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