Last-minute charges to ‘What I Owe’ cause UT-Austin registration stress

AddThis

Photo Credit: Andrew Choi | Daily Texan Staff

After registration for spring courses opened two weeks ago, students complained that last-minute charges to their What I Owe accounts might prevent them from registering on time.

Government sophomore Elizabeth Contreras said she was frustrated when she received several charges to her account from University Health Services only days before registering for next semester. 

“I went to see what days of the services they were charging me for, and one of them was for an appointment I had at the beginning of September,” Contreras said. “They had waited until November to charge me for the appointment.”

Robert Reed, assistant director of University Health Services, said students are charged a fee for using UHS services and additional charges for the services are sent to their insurance. 

“For the visit, they’ll get charged $10, and then if there are any additional after the insurance plan has been filed, they may get charged a little bit later based on when we receive the insurance communication,” Reed said. 

Contreras said she was charged for three UHS visits at once even though the appointments spanned from early September to mid-October. 

“It was about $60 that they wanted from me, and I didn’t get notifications about the billing until right before registration,” Contreras said. “I don’t want to have to be worried about contacting my mom and getting her to pay right before registration. UHS needs to notify students immediately for the charges of visits so people have more time to make payments.” 

International relations sophomore Quinn Blazek made several visits to UHS last year but said he was glad it was after registration because it gave him more time to pay without getting a
registration bar. 

“Luckily, in that scenario, it was after the registration deadline, so I was able to register for the next semester,” Blazek said. 

Insurance companies have 45 days to decide how much money they reimburse UHS for and how much money the patient still owes, so students may get charges weeks after their appointments on top of charges for more recent appointments, Reed said. 

“A student who had a visit in late September may just get some charges to their What I Owe in November because their insurance just sent us the return on that,” Reed said. 

Reed said he is unaware of any regulations the University has about posting charges on students’ What I Owe page close to registration. 

Olga Finneran, communications manager for Financial and Administrative Services, said several offices across campus use the What I Owe page to bill students, and they are not all regulated by the same entity.

“The (Financial and Administrative Services) portfolio does not oversee all of the business offices who submit items to the What I Owe page, as it is utilized by several colleges, schools and units … across the entire campus,” Finneran said in an email.

In any case, students can contact University Health Services to work out registration bars, Reed said. 

“If students were unable to pay or to get that bar lifted, they always have the option to contact the Cashier/Insurance Office at UHS and explain the situation to us,” Reed said. “If they … have a bar and they’re not going to get that money to pay that bar until after registration, our Cashier/Insurance Office will be happy to work with that student.”