New student insurance advocate position helps students navigate health insurance

November 08, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In recognition of the importance of students having access to affordable health care, Penn State has created a new position that will provide consultation on health insurance for uninsured and underinsured students and be an educational resource for students at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses.

Natahsha Gates, a longtime Penn State employee and social worker with more than 20 years of experience in human services, has been named to the newly created student insurance advocate position.

The student insurance advocate, which is part of University Health Services, a unit of Student Affairs, will provide individual student consultation as well as outreach and education to students and student groups around health insurance. The student insurance advocate will assist students in identifying insurance options, including the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan, Medicaid or Affordable Care Act marketplace plans. This new position also will help qualified students navigate the application processes for these plans.

This position also will work with the Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee and assist in communications with the student health insurance carrier to try to provide the best possible service to students.

The University is increasingly concerned about students without adequate health insurance. Many students incur unexpected expenses or do not seek health care when needed because of a lack of health insurance. Each year, hundreds of students are surprised to learn that their insurance is inadequate to meet their needs or restricts their access to certain physicians or hospitals. With this new position, the University will provide support to these students when navigating the complexities of health care and provide students with a sense of security from knowing they are adequately covered while they are at Penn State.

Gates began her Penn State career as University Health Services’ first case manager, a position where she supported students in overcoming barriers to health care. Most recently, Gates worked to support students through Student Care and Advocacy, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs.

Gates will be stationed in the Student Health Center on the University Park campus but will travel periodically to the Commonwealth Campuses to provide support. Commonwealth Campus students can consult with Gates via video chat, email or phone call. Gates said she is excited to begin the new position and to be a resource for all students.

“Helping Penn State students overcome barriers to accessing health care has been a passion of mine for the past 10 years,” said Gates. “Students who do not have access to affordable health care are at risk. Our goal is to provide our uninsured and underinsured students across the commonwealth with access to resources to assure the healthiest Penn State experience possible.”

Individual students or student groups can schedule a time to meet with Gates by emailing or calling 814-865-7467. At this time, the student insurance advocate is not available to World Campus students.

For more information about student health insurance at Penn State, visit the Penn State student health insurance website

Last Updated November 14, 2019