Student Health Coverage and Massage Therapy

I’m generally a very highly stressed individual. Grad school has made it worse (and the startup has made it even worse than that) but, even before all this, I was usually pretty stressed. I’m not great at relaxing and I over think and over analyze everything. I’m also one of those people who carries all their stress in their neck and shoulders, which can end up leading to tension headaches and migraines. I’ve been so stress over the past year, that I’ve also noticed that I’m becoming “slanted”, as my right side has been constricting in, pulling my right shoulder down lower than my life (not obviously hunchback of Notre Dame noticeable, but it’s definitely there).

In the past, I’ve had massages to help out with this. There’s a great person who works near where I live who does myofascial release, and I always leave that feeling like I’m floating and have never been so relaxed. Of course, massage is expensive, which is why I never go nearly as often as I probably should – since it’s been the best solution I’ve found to date.

I don’t know about you, but our student health plan mostly sucks. It was definitely developed by people who don’t use most of the services. For example, we get $500 of dental coverage a year – which really doesn’t go far if you need to get any dental work done. Or we get $75 towards glasses/contacts every two years – I don’t know about you, but the last time I bought glasses they were well over $200. I need to wear glasses all day everyday – I’m not going to scrimp on something so important.

Oddly, we get $500 of massage coverage. I say oddly, because this seems quite generous compared to the rest of the plan. But it’s not really, when you actually look into how it actually works. We are allowed to claim at most $30 from any individual massage session (not much when they often cost well over $70 for an hour) and we have to have a doctors referral to be able to make a claim. The doctor’s note is the biggest hurdle – our on campus health center has notices up saying that they won’t recommend or give referrals for massage. As a student, it’s not usually easy (especially with doctor shortages) to find a family doctor or get to a clinic in order to get this potential referral. All this results in, is most people who end up getting a massage having to pay the entire cost out of pocket.

Since it’s a well known fact that university is stressful and it’s also a well known fact that massage therapy can be a great stress reliever, why wouldn’t campuses (and their health plans) acknowledge this and, at the very least, make the process for reimbursement much simpler. Every time we require a doctors note for something pretty simple, we are just clogging up the health care centers even more. For now, I’ll just have to keep finding the money, because as the next 4-8 months don’t look to be any less stressful, I’m going to need all the outlets I can find.


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