Enroll / Waive Student Health Insurance

Enroll

Each academic year, all registered full-time students must enter their choice online to confirm enrollment in the Gold level of the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan (Columbia Plan), upgrade to the Platinum level, or request a waiver from enrollment in the Columbia Plan.

Part-time students may request enrollment in either level of the Columbia Plan online.

Students at Columbia’s affiliates (Jewish Theological Seminary, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University Medical Center) must follow their school’s procedures.

For more detailed instructions, visit the Students section below.

The Columbia Plan covers an academic year from August 15 – August 14 (contingent on registration).

Coverage PeriodHow to EnrollDeadline
Aug. 15, 2015 - Aug. 14, 2016N/ASept. 30, 2015
Jan. 1 - Aug. 14, 2016N/AFeb. 15, 2016
(New Spring Term students only)
June 1 - Aug. 14, 2016

Begins May 15

June 30, 2016
(New Summer students only)

*Note that insurance coverage can only be established when you register for the academic term associated with the period of coverage.

**New incoming summer students in the School of Journalism and the School of Professional Studies, including the American Language Program(ALP) must fill out the paper enrollment form and return it to the Insurance Office for processing before the June 30, 2016 deadline.

  • If you enroll during the Fall Term and continue as a registered student in the Spring Term, coverage becomes effective at 12:00 a.m. on August 15, 2015 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on August 14, 2016.
  • If you complete your academic program in December in anticipation of a February graduation, you will have coverage through 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2015.
  • If you are an October 2015 graduate, coverage eligibility ended on August 14, 2015.
  • For all students enrolling in their first term of classes for the Spring Term, coverage becomes effective at 12:00 a.m. on January 1, 2016 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on August 14, 2016.

For students who entered school in the fall term, but have not actively enrolled in the Columbia Plan, the coverage period begins August 15, 2015 through August 14, 2016. However, all expenses for covered prescriptions filled before September 30 will need to be submitted to Aetna Pharmacy Management for reimbursement. For more information, please see the prescription claim form.

Once the student’s insurance coverage decision has been determined for the fall term, that decision will automatically be continued in the following spring term as long as the student remains registered at the University. It is not possible to change the level of coverage in the spring term or after the open enrollment period has ended

Coverage premiums are for the Morningside campus Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan, student rates only.

Waive

To request a waiver from default enrollment in the Gold level of the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan, all students must request a waiver online before the deadline and provide documentation of alternate coverage under a comparable insurance plan which must meet all of the University's required criteria. All requests are considered on a case by case basis but approval is not guaranteed.

Deadline to Request a Waiver
 
TermHow to Request a WaiverDeadline
FallN/ASeptember 30, 2015
Spring
(new students only)
N/AFeb. 15, 2016
(New Spring Term students only)
Summer
(new students only)

Begins May 15

June 30, 2016
(New Summer students only)

Criteria for Comparable Insurance Plan

All full-time students are default enrolled in the Gold level of the Columbia Plan. To request a waiver from default enrollment, you must submit a request online before September 30 (February 15 for new Spring enrollment or June 30 for new full-time Summer students). All requests are considered but approval is not guaranteed.

If you have not provided sufficient information or if your plan does not meet all of the requirements, you will be contacted by the Columbia Health Insurance Office. You may be asked to provide additional information or be enrolled and charged for the Gold level of the Columbia Plan.

Insurance plans offered by carriers not licensed in the U.S. DO NOT meet the University’s waiver criteria. If you feel your non-U.S. plan does satisfy all the requirements you should be prepared to provide plan documents translated into English with currency amounts converted into U.S. dollars.

Please review your alternate coverage to determine whether it meets all of the following criteria:

  1. All plans must meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act including, but not limited to, coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage minimum & maximums, and deductibles.  This applies to international plans in addition to domestic plan offerings. New York State Medicaid will be accepted.
  2. National coverage for routine, urgent and emergent care for both medical and mental health services, including substance abuse. If traveling internationally for school-related purposes (study abroad, research at a Global Center, etc.) the policy must also provide coverage outside the US for routine, urgent, and emergent care.
  3. Coverage must be effective no later than August 15 of each academic year (January 1 for new Spring Term enrollees and June 1 for new Summer Term enrollees). For students completing a program of study in this academic year the coverage must extend through the end of the month of formal program completion (e.g. end of May for spring graduates).  For continuing students the coverage extends for entire school year, including summers. Coverage will remain in force while a registered student, including during approved leave of absence for medical reasons and non-degree status at Columbia University.
  4. Insurance plan is licensed to do business in the United States.  We strongly recommend your plan have a U.S.-based claims office and a U.S. telephone number, or a U.S.-based claims agent so local hospitals and providers can contact the carrier to discuss care and bill directly.

Medicaid Waiver Requests

Any student with active Medicaid coverage may request a waiver of the University’s insurance requirement. Waiver requests from students with New York State Medicaid will generally be approved. Requests from students with Medicaid coverage from outside New York State are typically denied as these plans may not provide coverage outside of their state of residence. All waiver requests are submitted online and evaluated on an individual basis.

When making their waiver decisions, all Medicaid-covered students should consider the gaps in coverage they may experience while attending the University; for instance, travel abroad or anywhere outside their home state.

New York State Medicaid-covered students may not be covered while traveling outside of the state. In addition, referral options for students on Medicaid needing specialist’s care off-campus may be limited.

Students with Medicaid who are interested in the student insurance plan may wish to address concerns about cost with their school’s financial aid office.

Financial Responsibility

Student’s policy coverage must meet the waiver requirements outlined by Columbia University. Exchange plans that do not meet these criteria are not considered adequate coverage and will not be accepted.

These requirements are established to minimize a student’s risk of incurring exorbitant medical costs.

Students accept full financial responsibility for hospital, laboratory, physician, diagnostic testing and other medical costs not covered by their insurance.

Charges on Your Student Account Statement

A charge for the fall term of the Gold level of the Plan may appear on your first Student Account Statement, even if you request a waiver. These charges will be removed if the request is approved.

Considering an Alternate Health Plan

Health insurance benefits can vary from plan to plan. As you consider either using the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan or enrolling in a alternate insurance plan, here are a few points to consider before deciding on an insurance plan:

  1. Does the alternate insurance plan meet Columbia University’s criteria for comparable insurance coverage?
  2. Will you age out of an insurance plan carried by parents or legal guardians?
  3. If you plan to extend coverage provided through a previous employer, such as COBRA, what are the costs involved? Compare these with the premiums for the Columbia Plan.

If you are unsure about how an alternate plan compares to the Columbia Plan, contact the insurance carrier for details about available benefits, including cost in-/out-network providers, cost of lab examinations, prescription medication benefits, and any other frequently used health benefits. Use our helpful guide to compare.

Why the Columbia Plan?

The Columbia Plan provides coverage for a broad range of healthcare needs, both while students are in the United States and abroad:

  • benefits are designed to complement the services available on-campus
  • an on-campus clinician serves as your primary care provider
  • access to services is streamlined and paperwork is limited
  • students pay a copay for visits with consulting providers off-campus (when referred by an on-campus clinician) and for prescription medications
  • the Columbia Plan offers access to the nationwide Aetna network of specialists, representing clinicians in most areas of medical specialty. This can be of particular benefit while traveling or living away from campus for the summer
  • benefits are included for emergency assistance while traveling outside the United States
  • the Columbia Plan covers an academic year, starting August 15, 2015 and ending August 14, 2016

It is important to know that the Columbia Plan meets and exceeds the requirements for the following:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program for International Students & Scholars
  • ACA (Affordable Care Act)
  • NYS Department of Insurance

Students

Full-time Students

All registered full-time students are enrolled in the Gold level of the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan if no valid waiver request is submitted and approved. Full-time students must confirm their insurance selection each year by actively enrolling in the Gold level or Platinum level of the Columbia Plan or by requesting a waiver from enrollment in the Columbia Plan and demonstrating coverage under another comparable policy.

Enrollment in the Columbia Plan is effective only upon the student’s academic registration for the term for which coverage will be active.

Once the student’s insurance coverage decision has been determined for the fall term, that decision will automatically be continued in the following spring term as long as the student remains registered at the University. It is not possible to change the level of coverage in the spring term or after the open enrollment period has ended.

Part-time Students

Part-time students are encouraged to enroll in the Columbia Plan. Enrolling in the Columbia Plan also requires payment of the Columbia Health Fee which provides access to the services provided though Columbia Health.

Funded Graduate Students

Funded graduate students should contact their departmental administrator, Financial Aid Office, or Fellowship Office for information about whether their school provides funding to cover any portion of the Columbia Plan premium for the student and eligible dependents.

Study-Abroad Students

Students expecting to participate in any Study Abroad program should consult with an Insurance Specialist at Columbia Health about the type of insurance coverage they will need while traveling.

International Students

Columbia University requires that all full-time students have health insurance. To ensure that students have comparable insurance coverage, all registered full-time students are default enrolled in the Gold level of the Plan offered by the University. A charge for the Gold level of the Columbia Plan as well as the Columbia Health fee will appear on the first student bill.

The Columbia Plan is specifically designed to meet the needs of international students including visa requirements. There are other issues that should be considered about a student's health insurance selection:

  1. If you come from a country with a national health plan, you may not be covered for care in the United States. Most healthcare providers will not recognize coverage from another country and may ask that you pay in full at the time of treatment.
  2. Student health insurance is more affordable than other health plans available in the United States. The Columbia Plan protects you from financial hardship if you were to experience a major illness or injury that requires costly or prolonged medical care.
  3. The Columbia Plan includes a unique feature, travel assistance services. This plan helps students find appropriate medical care and will help with other travel-related emergencies anywhere in the world when you are located more than 100 miles from your permanent address. This coverage is available at no additional cost to students enrolled in the plan.
  4. The Columbia Plan offers assurance that your health plan is recognized by doctors and hospitals in the United States and that you have financial protection from unexpected medical costs.

All students have the opportunity to request a waiver from default enrollment in the University’s insurance plan each year by the deadline by documenting that their alternate plan meets all of the requirements.


Student Veterans

Student veterans may be eligible for health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for illnesses and injuries related to their service. Columbia Health recommends that Columbia student-veterans confirm their status with the VA and, if necessary, complete the VA paperwork needed to receive benefits in the New York City area.  All students will be default enrolled into this plan unless a waiver request is submitted and approved by the waiver request deadline. For additional information about health care coverage for Columbia student-veterans, please visit the Columbia University Veteran Affairs website.

Important Dates

Important Dates
DateNotice
July 15 - September 30Open enrollment period for the Columbia Plan.
August 14Columbia Plan terminates for Spring/Summer enrollees.
August 15Access to Columbia Health for the new academic year begins.
 Columbia Student Insurance Plan Fall term starts.
 Pharmacy benefits become available with a copay only if an insurance selection has been recorded and the student has registered and charged tution for classes.
September 30Deadline for enrolling in the Columbia Plan. Students who have taken no action by this date will be default enrolled into the Gold level of the Plan for the entire academic year.
October 15Insurance cards are mailed to students who made no insurance selection by the 9/30 deadline.
December 31Columbia Student Insurance Plan Fall term ends.
January 1Columbia Student Insurance Plan Spring terms starts.
February 15Deadline for enrolling in the Columbia Student Insurance Plan for new Spring students only. Students who have taken no action by this date will be default enrolled into the Gold level of the Plan through 8/14.
June 1Columbia Health Services begin for new entering summer students for period - 6/1 - 8/14.
 Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan begins for new entering summer students for coverage period 6/1-8/14.
June 30Deadline for enrolling in the Columbia Plan for new students only. Full-time Summer Trimester students who have taken no action by this date will be default enrolled into the Gold level of the Plan for the coverage period 6/1-8/14.
SummerInformation is sent to all students with important health-related information.
August 15Columbia Student Insurance Plan Fall term starts.

Summer

Summer - Enroll

New summer trimester full-time students** must enter their choice online to confirm enrollment in the Gold level of the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan (Columbia Plan), upgrade to the Platinum level, or request a waiver from default enrollment in the Columbia Plan.

All other newly admited students** taking summer classes may also request enrollment in the Columbia Plan online.

Coverage premiums are for the Morningside campus Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan, student rates only.

**New incoming summer students in the School of Journalism and the School of Professional Studies, including the American Language Program(ALP) must fill out the paper enrollment form and return it to the Insurance Office for processing before the June 30, 2016 deadline.

Summer - Waive

To request a waiver from default enrollment in the Gold level of the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan, all students must request a waiver online before the following deadline. All requests are considered but approval is not guaranteed.

Deadline to Request a Waiver
 
TermHow to Request a WaiverDeadline
Summer
(new trimester students only)

Begins May 15

June 30, 2016

 

Last updated May 05, 2016