As soon as Leenda Maraldi’s boyfriend, Collin Stoodley, walked in the room, she fell to the floor. In October 2016, after taking pills to attempt suicide, she overdosed. After finding her, Stoodley dialed 911, and she was brought to Rutland Regional Medical Center.
There, she had her stomach pumped.
She was unconscious for two days.
When she woke up, she was advised by a doctor to move to the psychiatric unit, where she was hospitalized for a week.
Because healthcare is free in Italy, Maraldi’s home country, she chose to get the health insurance offered through Castleton University. Naturally, the last thing on her mind when she was hospitalized for her mental health was her insurance coverage.
“I just assumed that since I had my insurance through the school that the closest hospital would be covered,” Maraldi said.
Around 170 students use Consolidated Health Plans, with the provider First Health through Castleton. For each insurance company, there is a network of covered areas. Rutland Medical Center and Castleton Family Health are not included in the First Health network, meaning that they will cover 50 percent rather than 75 percent of the medical bills.
Maraldi’s medical bills have reached around $35,000. With 50 percent coverage, Maraldi owed nearly $18,000. With the help of Martha Coulter in the Wellness Center, she was able to get the company to cover 80 percent of her bill, though they have not provided the coverage yet, months later.
“I think that it is very unfortunate that the Student Health Insurance program available for students to purchase through the Vermont State Colleges uses a provider network that does not include the Rutland Regional Medical Center as a participating provider,” Coulter said.
The closest hospital that has full coverage is in Glens Falls, New York. In some cases, it is possible to request an ambulance to bring a patient to a hospital that is not the nearest one, but this is rare, and not for immediate emergent cases, according to the New York Department of Health.
Scott Dikeman, the dean of Administration, is in charge of the financial side of the student health insurance policy.
“Every year, our insurance agent goes out and tries to find options of us and this is the company that has responded and provided a proposal,” Dikeman said.
According to Dikeman, Consolidated Health Plans is the only insurance company that provided a policy for the VSC system, and has been for the last seven or eight years, as long as he has been employed at the university.
Dikeman said he was not aware that Rutland Medical Center and Castleton Family Health are not within the network of the school’s insurance policy.
“My involvement is more on the financial side,” he said.
Deborah Singiser, the director of International Student Services, stated in an email that if an international student chooses, they can get insurance from a provider in America (if they do not have insurance from their country) as long as it covers them for the duration of their college stay.
Maraldi has decided not to use the Castleton insurance next school year.
“Before they (an insurance company) offer to cover a school, they should make sure they offer the only hospital in a 15-mile radius, or don't sell their policy at all. Obviously, that would mean being ethical individuals with values, and insurance companies are not exactly known for that,” said Maraldi. “I am not surprised that they wouldn't care. After all we are the ones who will be stuck with debt for 10 years, not them.”
First Health insurance and VSC systems could not provide anyone to answer questions about the health insurance policy in time for this publication.