Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation

Graduates

Your guide to staying in tip-top physical and mental condition

Dashboard.jpg

Just as regular maintenance is health insurance for your car, it is also health insurance for your body. Maintaining your health now will prevent you from needing major "repairs" later. Making healthy choices now will save you a lot of trouble in the future.


What is the ACL?

ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. It is one of the main ligaments of the knee, and prevents the shin bone from sliding out in front of the thigh bone.

Symptoms of ACL injury

An injury to the ACL happens when the ligament is over-stretched or torn. A tear may be partial or complete. These injuries can occur if you:


insurance.jpg

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare or the ACA, is a law intended to reform the health care system and make health insurance more affordable.  The law has gone into effect in stages.  For example, a provision that requires insurance to fully cover preventive services (like cancer screenings) was implemented in 2010, while the part of the law that stops insurance companies from denying people health insurance because of pre-existing conditions takes effect in 2014.

If you already have health insurance

Say you've already got health insurance.  How does Affordable Care Act affect you?  Well, there are a couple of ways:

  • If you're insured through a parent, you are eligible to continue to receive that coverage up until you're 26 years old.  That means that you've got more time to figure out the other Affordable Care Act provisions before you need to start arranging for your own coverage.
  • Your insurance now covers the full cost of some services that are meant to prevent illness, including birth control, regardless of whether your plan includes a deductible, co-insurance or co-pays.  These services include things like immunizations (like that pesky measles vaccine you have to get in order to attend college!), pap smears and birth control.  Even if your insurance has a deductible, or an amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage kicks in, you won't be charged for these services.  Same thing goes for co-insurance (the percent of a service or visit that your insurance company normally makes you pay for) and co-pays (the amount you pay at your doctor's front desk or when you pick up a medication at the pharmacy).
  • If you're a graduate teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA), and have the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP), expect expanded coverage for preventive care.  Otherwise, your benefits should remain mostly unchanged.

If you already have health insurance, you don't need to do anything new or different, unless your insurance company says so.  Be sure to read about the preventive services that are now fully covered by your plan, regardless of whether you have a deductible, co-insurance or co-pays. 

If you purchase student health insurance through UW

If you buy the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) through the University of Washington, you should expect to find very little changed.  However, SHIP is subject to the same requirements as other health insurance policies, and therefore now fully covers preventive services like birth control and immunizations.  You can read about your benefits under SHIP here.

Please note that SHIP will no longer be offered starting Fall Quarter of 2015. Click here for more information.

If you don't have health insurance

Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require everyone to purchase a health insurance plan, just like the government requires people who own a car to buy car insurance.  Fortunately, if you're a typical college student without much income, there are subsidies available to lower the cost of private insurance.  If you are low-income, you might be eligible for public insurance, also known as Medicaid, for which you would not need to pay. As you apply for the insurance through an online exchange, you will be prompted to enter income and demographic information. The system will determine your eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies based on this information.

Eligibility information for Washington residents

If you are an uninsured resident of Washington State, you may have two options:

Curious as to how much you might be looking at paying for your health insurance?  Here's a special calculator that estimates your monthly payment for health insurance (though keep in mind that you might be eligible for Medicaid if you earn less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level).

If you enrolling in private insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, there are presently only three plans that are contracted with Hall Health Center and other parts of UW Medicine.  They are:

  • BridgeSpan
  • Molina Healthcare
  • Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW-HIX)

If you find that you qualify for Medicaid (aka Washington Apple Health or DSHS), please be aware that we are contracted with these three plans:

  • Amerigroup Washington (AMG)
  • Molina Healthcare of Washington (MHC)
  • Coordinated Care Corporation (CCC)

If you enroll in one of these plans, you can receive care, including mental health services, at Hall Health Center.  We are not contracted with Community Health Plan of Washington and United Health Care Community Health or have limited services that we are able to provide.

Eligibility information for residents of other states

Depending on where you're from, your home state may or may not have its own health insurance exchange (a website set up to facilitate finding and purchasing a health insurance plan).  You can use the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace to get routed to your state's exchange.  If your state does not operate an exchange, you can use the federal government's version to buy your plan.

Similarly, your state may not have opted to expand Medicaid eligibility.  Read more here about the Medicaid expansion.

International students

If you are a citizen of another country attending the University of Washington, you are required to enroll in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). You can read about your benefits here.

Other provisions of the Affordable Care Act

There are other elements of the Affordable Care Act that may affect you:

  • Starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer reject you or charge you more because you have a medical condition
  • If you don't have health insurance at the end of 2014, you may have to pay a penalty (probably less than $100).  Take a look at this graphic to find out if the penalty could apply to you.

Additional resources

Online

Get help enrolling through a Patient Navigator (a health insurance expert).

Read about insurance and Hall Health.

Check out this cartoon-style infographic on what the Affordable Care Act means for young people.

The federal government's HealthCare.gov website offers lots of resources to help you make sense of the Affordable Care Act.

Washington State's Health Plan Finder is where you'll purchase health insurance if you need to buy an individual (i.e., not employer- or parent-sponsored) plan and are a Washington resident.

If you're not a Washington State resident, the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace can help you purchase a plan.

 

Authored by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff

Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Administration staff, January 2014


Picking the right shoe can be a daunting task for any runner.  Popular opinion about what type of footwear is best seems to change every few months.  Are neutral shoes actually better than supportive?  What about barefoot running?  What if you've been told that your feet pronate?


 

Feeling anxious about your job prospects after school?  You're not alone.

photo of graduating students in cap & gown During uncertain economic times, graduate students are faced with increased anxiety about the current job market and economy, as well as the challenges of graduating.


2 students talkingSTIs (sexually transmitted infections), also known as STDs, are stigmatized in our society. We associate having an STI with being immoral or promiscuous. This may not be the case, but it still makes telling your current, former, or new partner about an STI difficult.

Why should I tell my partner?

If you think you may have exposed a partner to an STI or gotten an STI from your partner, you should tell them.


What is anxiety?

All of us are prone to feel some anxiety in our lives. But when anxiety affects our day to day functioning and enjoyment of life, it becomes an illness. Many people with anxiety disorder do not recognize it. You may have an anxiety disorder if you worry too much on most days for at least six months. Your anxiety may make it hard for you to live life normally. You might find it difficult to get a job, go to classes or make friends.

What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?broken, chewed pencil to show anxiety issues

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can vary from person to person and can include the following:

  • Excessive worry and anxiety on an almost daily basis for 6 months or more.
  • An inability to control your worries.
  • The anxiety can be associated with other symptoms,  including restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Some people also experience headaches and body pain with no medical explanation.
  • Panic attacks involving sweating, shaking, racing heart, shortness of breath,nausea, tightness in the stomach or jaw may also occur.
  • These symptoms can cause significant impairment in your ability to function.

How is anxiety diagnosed?

Many people with anxiety are embarrassed to tell their clinician about it. An anxiety disorder is commonly diagnosed by your medical or mental health provider by asking you questions about your symptoms. There are several rating scales or questionnaires that are used to diagnose anxiety, such as the one below.

 rating scale or questionnaire that isused to diagnose anxiety

If you scored higher than 5 on this self-assessment, you may want to consider talking to your health care or mental health provider about your symptoms.

What treatments are available for anxiety?

It is important to realize that the treatment of anxiety usually takes time. You may not be "cured," but your symptoms will subside and your quality of life will improve with treatment.  Treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly effective for the treatment of anxiety. Cognitive therapy works by helping you understand and change the thoughts and behaviors that may contribute to anxiety.
  • Medications. Classes of drugs called anti-depressants, Beta-blockers and anti-psychotics have been used to treat anxiety. Brand names you may recognize include Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft.  Anxiolytics (benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium and non-benzodiazepines like Buspar) are also used. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive, especially when used without medical supervision. Herbal remedies like Kava, Valerian and St. John's wort have also been used to allay anxiety. 
  • Meditation and relaxation training: We really do not know how these work, but they are effective in treating anxiety and have no known harmful effects. Mindfulness meditation is the oldest known technique to deal with anxiety. It teaches us to be aware of anxious thoughts as just thoughts passing through our awareness and we can learn to see them as mental events without having to react to them or try to get rid of them.

Are there other types of anxiety disorders?

Yes. There are other conditions that have similar symptoms:

  • Panic attacks are characterized by a sudden intense fear or discomfort in the absence of real danger – as if something terrible is about to happen. These feelings may be accompanied by sweating, difficulty breathing, feeling light headed, a pounding heart, shaky hands and can last 30-60 minutes.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs in people who have either witnessed or lived through a potentially life threatening event such as an accident, natural disaster, war or intimate partner violence. Symptoms may develop weeks, months or years later in some cases. PTSD is characterized by anxiety, with flashbacks of the threatening event, nightmares, jumpiness, irritability or physical symptoms like digestive problems, aches and pains.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  People with OCD suffer from disturbing thoughts (obsessions) and images that are difficult to shake off and which they know are ridiculous. They may indulge in repetitive behaviors or rituals to ward off the accompanying anxiety. Such behaviors may take a lot of time to complete. Common examples are fear of germs or dirt, checking door locks, arranging and re-arranging objects for hours.
  • Phobia is the fear of something, such as an animal (spiders), a situation (riding in elevators) or open places (agoraphobia). People with a phobia will do anything to avoid the fearful stimulus. This can make life very difficult.

Getting help

Help at the University of Washington

Hall Health Mental Health Clinic

Offers both medication and talk therapies for students, faculty and their families, as well as referrals to outside providers.

To make an appointment, call (206) 616-2495

UW Counseling Center

Many free counseling, assessment and crisis intervention services for UW students

(206) 543-1240

External resources

National Institute of Mental Health resources on anxiety disorders

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Center for Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) resources on anxiety disorders

 

Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff

Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff, January 2014


woman sitting at computerFor many of us, sitting for extended periods of time glaring at a computer screen is an integral part of our daily routine. Yet little do we recognize how significantly the design and arrangement of our computer workstation equipment impacts our health. Improper computer ergonomics is a leading cause of neck and back pain, shoulder fatigue, carpal tunnel, and eye strain.


Syndicate content