Insurance Basics

When you are sick or injured, deciding where to receive treatment is very important. Being prepared can help you make these important decisions when you need to seek care immediately. Calling your primary care pysician or the Student Health Services on Rice's campus is the best place to start. You can also use Teledoc or the Aetna Nurse Health Hotline. Explain your symptoms to the physician, and they can help advise you on where to seek treatment.

What do you do if your doctor’s office is closed? You need to ask yourself a very important question.

Is your condition life threating? If yes, you need to go to the emergency room immediately. If your condition is not life threating, then your best option is to contact Teledoc or go to the nearest in-network urgent care center.

What are the differences between the emergency room and an urgent care facility?

Urgent care facilities are walk-in clinics. Most are open after hours, and some are even open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Urgent care facilities usually treat injuries minor non-life threating illnesses. Urgent care facilities are cheaper than a trip to the emergency room and are usually much faster. Emergency rooms are always open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They treat very severe and life threating conditions. A trip to the emergency room is very expensive, because it offers specialized care and diagnostic tests. In most cases, you may also have a long wait before you are treated.

In-Network Urgent Care Clinics close to Rice University:

  • AFC Urgent Care - 5568 Weslayan St, Houston, TX 77005
  • CareNow- 1917 West Gray St, Houston, TX 77019
  • Concentra Urgent Care – 1414 South Loop West Suite 200, Houston, TX 77054

What to do if you experience one of the following:

Normal sickness or minor emergency

Go to the Rice Student Health Center during regular business hours, appointments are preferred. As a student, you already pay for access to the Health Center.

Minor emergency or if Student Health Center is closed

Contact your in-network Primary Care Physician or Urgent Care clinic.

Major emergency

Go to the emergency room

Life-threatening emergency

Dial 911 (off-campus) or x6000 (on-campus) for an ambulance to be sent to your location

If your doctor’s office is closed and you do not know whether your condition is life threatening, you can call the Nurse Health Line. This is a free service available 24/7. You will be able to speak to a trained Nurse that can advise you on the best place to seek treatment based on your symptoms.

Aetna Nurse Health Hotline: 1-800-556-1555 (Only available to students enrolled in the Aetna student health insurance plan); Teledoc: Talk to a doctor: 1-855-Teladoc (835-2362)/

Memorial Hermann Nurse Health Line: 713-338-7979 or Toll Free at 1-855-577-7979

To search for in-network providers, use the DocFind tool on the Aetna website.

Health Insurance Vocabulary

  • Premium: the amount that you pay to purchase your insurance coverage
  • Deductible: the amount that you must pay before the insurance company starts to pay
  • Co-pay: the fee you must pay for medical services or supplies
  • Co-insurance: the percentage that you must pay after the deductible is paid
  • Negotiated Charge: a discounted amount that preferred care providers have agreed to accept for any service or supply, based on the terms of your coverage
  • Recognized Charge: the full retail amount that your doctor changes, adjusted to reflect the average charge for similar services nationwide. Your health insurance will only recognize the average charge - even if that amount is lower than your doctor's charges.
  • In-Network or Preferred Care: Doctors and facilities that are contracted by your health plan typically provide special discounted rates for plan members. To maximize your savings and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, select a preferred provider or facility.
  • Out-of-Network or Non-Preferred Care: Non-Preferred doctors and facilities are not contracted by your health plan to provide services to you. You’ll pay more for Non-Preferred Care. Depending on your health plan, some Non-Preferred claims may not be covered at all.

You should call the providers office before your visit to confirm they accept your insurance. This will save you time and money.

For even more health insurance vocabulary, please click here!