Raise your Green Shield!

With winter in its hey-day, the sun’s free vitamin D has all but disappeared. However, viruses are available in abundance! There’s so many to choose from, how will I be able to decide? Maybe a cold, or flu, or a combination cold and flu! Oh, the choices; they just make my head spin. But we do have a weapon. Worry not, fellow students, in your quest to vanquish evil viruses, raise your Green Shield! What’s that? You don’t know how to raise the other-worldly powers of your Green Shield? For shame! Every year when we pay tuition, we automatically pay for Green Shield health coverage. This is a benefit package akin to what you would receive from an employer. It covers dental, prescription, vision, and a host of other services. But quite a few of us don’t know how to take full advantage of this health coverage. First of all, there is no membership card for Green Shield. Your benefit number is ‘SAC’ + your UofT student number + ‘00’ (eg. SAC999999999-00). Green Shield operates as a reimbursement policy, so you have to pay for the service, and then submit your claim. You can usually do this electronically at the pharmacy, dentist, or optician. Once the claim has been processed, you will receive a cheque to reimburse you for the amount covered by the plan. Green Shield covers up to $10,000 per person, per benefit year for all health benefits combined. Broken down, it looks something like this: -$5,000 per year for prescriptions -$250 per year for contraceptives -$500 per year for diabetic testing supplies -$350 per year for custom orthotics -$75 every two years for eye exams -$35 per visit up to a maximum of 20 visits per year to a specialist, including Acupuncturist, Speech Therapist (medical referral required), Naturopath, Registered Massage Therapist (medical referral required), Physiotherapist, Homeopath, Chiropractor, Chiropodist/Podiatrist. Yes, you can get free massages!!!! -$25 per hour up to $10000 per year per disability for private tutorial service of a qualified teacher. You must be confined to home or hospital for a minimum of 15 consecutive days to qualify. -$800 per year for dental services, you are responsible to pay for 20 per cent of routine preventative services and routine dental surgeries, 25 per cent of other services (scaling, fluoride every nine months), and 40 per cent for restorative surgeries (fillings etc.). This is not the complete list, but you can view the benefits booklet here which has a more detailed listing of services covered. You can also contact University of Toronto Student union (UTSU) by phone @ 416-978-4911 ext. 227, email @ dan@utsu.ca, with questions regarding health plan coverage. So, now that you know what health services are covered, but you might realize that you don’t need health coverage. If you are covered by a spouse or a parent and you don’t feel a need for Green Shield coverage, you can opt out of the fee early in the term. It's too late for this year - the opt out period for the winter term was January 3rd to February 4th. But for future reference, you will need to fill out the opting out form available here and the amount will be reimbursed to you sometime in the second term. If you have already succumbed to one of the abundantly available viruses circulating throughout campus and you are currently in the depths of a viral induced delirium, you might want to pay a visit to the U of T’s Health Services. They take appointments and walk-ins. They are located right on St. George, in the Koffler Student Services Centre (where the bookstore is), which is so close you probably don’t even need to change out of your pyjama pants. Apart from tending to the sickly on campus, Health Services also offers routine women’s health and physicals, as well as medical counselling. I hope this has helped you navigate some of the inner workings of Green Shield. This is your health plan, you pay for it, you should use it! Get well soon! -Lori

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