What Cornell Students Need to Know About Health Insurance 

  • Remember, the Affordable Care Act allows students to stay on their parents’ policy until the age of 26. 
  • Make sure your current insurance policy covers you in Eastern Iowa.  If not, please contact your company to see if it’s possible to make special arrangements for out-of-area coverage.
  • Avoid high deductible or “young invincible” policies.  They may not provide coverage for routine health care.
  • Make sure your policy covers medical and mental health expenses including appointments, tests/assessments and prescriptions.
  • Need to purchase insurance and don’t know what to do?

(While Cornell doesn’t endorse a specific agency or policy, here are some resources that may be helpful to you.)

Local insurance agency:

Richardson-Hanson & Hotz Insurance Agencies     319-895-6450 or 319-895-8633

Online policies (including but not limited to:

EHealth Insurance                                                www.ehealthinsurance.com

Golden Rule Insurance


When you move to a new state for college, it is a qualifying event that allows you to get a new policy on the healthcare.gov marketplace.  You may consider purchasing a policy that will cover you in Iowa, or you may consider applying for Medicaid that would cover you while you're a student here.  For information on how to apply for Medicaid in Iowa, go to: https://dhsservices.iowa.gov/apspssp/ssp.portal.  

Of Course You Need Health Insurance!

  • Be aware that services on campus for medical and mental health needs do NOT include physicians, psychiatrists or other specialists, or prescription services.  Nurses and counselors on campus make referrals to off campus services as needed.
  • You are not invincible. Don’t put your college education at risk due to unexpected medical bills.


Guide to Receiving Off-Campus Mental Health Services

The Cornell College Counseling Center provides short-term counseling for enrolled students; however, at times students are in need of more ongoing and intensive mental health services that the Counseling Center is unable to provide. Please use this guide as a tool in connecting with off-campus referrals.

Please note that the off campus evaluation and treatment resources and other community resources function independently from the Cornell College Counseling Center and are not in any way under our control or supervision. After gathering information from the referral sources, you will need to make your own decision about the appropriateness of any of these off campus resources for your own particular situation. You will also need to provide your own transportation to and payment for these services, though local transportation might be available from the College with advance notice (call the Health Center at 319-895-4292 to learn more).

Costs/Checking Insurance Coverage
Many health insurance policies provide coverage for mental health or substance abuse services. If you have private insurance coverage (typically through your or a family member’s employer), check with your insurance company to see if mental health services are covered, and if so, how you may obtain these benefits. This also applies to persons enrolled in HMO’s, other types of managed care plans, and plans for government employees, military personnel, and their dependents. You should call the insurance company before you make an appointment with a specific mental health or substance abuse professional or agency. Here are some helpful questions to ask your insurance company:

  1. Are there benefits in your plan for mental health (or substance abuse) services? Does your plan include both inpatient and outpatient benefits? Does your plan cover psychotropic (mental health) medication?
  2. What are the outpatient benefits? Are there limits on number of visits or dollar amount within a single year or in your lifetime (yearly and lifetime maximums)? What is the deductible which you must satisfy before the benefits begin?
    Are there any kinds of problems/issues which are excluded from coverage?
  3. What types of providers of mental health or substance abuse treatment are eligible for reimbursement under your policy? Are clinical social workers covered? Psychologists? Master’s level counselors? Psychiatrists? Must the provider be licensed? Does the provider have to be under the supervision of a psychiatrist or PhD psychologist? Are there any other parameters that determine whether a provider is eligible for reimbursement?
  4. Must you see a provider who is part of a preferred provider network designated by your insurance company? Will insurance cover a provider outside this group (and outside of your home area, if you are attending college away from home)? What is the process for getting approval to see someone outside the preferred provider network? Are the benefits the same if you see someone outside the preferred provider network?
  5. Will the insurance company pay the provider directly or pay you?

The provider whom you would like to see may also be able to help you check on your insurance coverage. The provider will want to gather relevant insurance information from you at the time you make an appointment or at your first visit. You should be sure you have your health insurance card containing specific information about your coverage at your first appointment.

If you are not covered by insurance, you may decide to pay for treatment out-of-pocket. Some agencies operate on a sliding-scale fee policy where the amount you pay depends on your income. Ask the agency or professional where you would like to receive services what their hourly fees are and whether they have a sliding fee scale.

Selecting a Therapist
Selecting a therapist is a highly personal matter. A professional who works very well with one individual may not be a good choice for another person. There are several ways to get referrals to qualified therapists, including the following:

  • Talk to family members and friends for their recommendations, especially if they have had a good experience in therapy.
  • Ask your primary care physician (or other health professional) for a referral.
  • When speaking with your insurance provider re: coverage, ask them if they have a website that lists local covered providers (i.e., near Mt. Vernon) or a list of covered providers they can fax to you. They can provide a list of local providers, or providers in your home town, depending on your needs.
  • Set up an intake appointment with a counselor at the Cornell College Counseling Center; we can assess your needs and help connect you with a local provider.
  • Inquire at your church, synagogue, or other house of worship.
  • Look in the phone book for the local mental health association (such as the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH), community mental health center or human services information/referral program, and check these sources for possible referrals.
  • If you are seeking a therapist outside of Iowa, such as for home over the summer or while out of state on internship, consider using the American Psychological Association’s Find a Psychologist service. Call 1-800-964-2000 to be connected to your state’s psychological association, which will help you locate providers in your area. You can also search online at http://locator.apa.org/.

Ideally, you will end up with more than one option. Call and request the opportunity, either by phone or in person, to ask the therapist some questions. You might want to ask about the therapist’s professional training and licensure, years of experience and areas of expertise. You might briefly describe the concerns or issues for which you are seeking therapy and ask about the therapist’s experience helping people with these types of problems. You will want to ask about fees, insurance and billing practices.

Therapists and clients work together. The right match is important. A key factor in determining whether or not to work with a particular therapist, once the person’s credentials and competence are established, is your level of personal comfort with that therapist. A good rapport is critical. Choose a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and at ease. Don’t be afraid to explore other options if you don’t feel comfortable with the first therapist you meet. Please realize, too, that if you are working on concerns which are difficult to share, you may sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable with any therapist.

Other Community Resources
There are several self-help support groups in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area that cover a variety of issues and are free of charge (eg: AA/NA, suicide survivor, rape survivor, depression/anxiety, dating violence, learning disabilities, eating disorders, just to name a few). Generally there is a contact number and person that you would have to call prior to attending the group, but some groups are open to having people drop in. You can check with the counselors at the Counseling Center for a list of local support groups and contact information for the issues you would like to explore.

Helpful Search Tools
When you have a sense of what you are seeking in a provider, here are some tools to help you find a therapist in your area.

Psychology Today Therapist Finder

click on "Find a Therapist", enter your zip code, use the filter to choose your insurance, presenting concerns, etc.

American Psychological Association's Psychologist Locator

enter your zip code or city and state, then use the filter to choose other options like insurance, specialties, therapist gender, etc.

Here's even more information about finding a therapist:  https://theshrinkspace.com/faqs