Enroll / Waive Student Health Insurance

2014-2015 Plan Year: Open enrollment begins 6/23/14 and ends 9/19/14.

Enroll

Each September, 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 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 Student Enrollment Information section below.

The Columbia Plan covers an academic year from September 1 – August 14 (contingent on registration).

Coverage PeriodDeadline to EnrollHow to Enroll
Sept. 1, 2014 - Aug. 14, 2015Sept. 19, 2014 
Jan. 20 - Aug. 14, 2015Jan. 30, 2015
(New Spring Term students only)
n/a
May 18 - Aug. 14, 2015June 12, 2015
(New Summer Trimester students only)
n/a

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

  • 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 September 1, 2014 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on August 14, 2015. Coverage for the 2015-16 plan year will begin on August 15, 2015.
  • If you complete your academic program in December in anticipation of a February graduation, you will have coverage through 11:59 p.m. on January 19, 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 20, 2015 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on August 14, 2015.

For students who entered school in the fall term, but have not actively enrolled in the Columbia Plan, the coverage period begins September 1, 2014 through August 14, 2015. However, all expenses for covered prescriptions filled before September 19 will need to be submitted to Aetna Pharmacy Management for reimbursement. For more information, please see the prescription claim form.

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
 
TermDeadlineHow to Request a Waiver
FallSeptember 19, 2014
 
Spring
(new students only)
January 30, 2015n/a
Summer
(new trimester students only)
June 12, 2015n/a

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 19 (January 30 for new Spring enrollment or June 12 for new full-time Summer trimester 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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Coverage must be effective no later than September 1 of each academic year (January 20, 2015 for new Spring Term enrollees and May 18, 2015 for new Summer Trimester 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 general be approved. Requests from students with Medicaid coverage from outside New York State will also be considered. 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 from outside New York State may not have coverage outside of their state of residence and may need to return home for on-going treatment.

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 and processed.

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 your personal 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 September 1, 2014 and ending August 14, 2015; the Columbia Plan for the 2015-16 acadmic plan year will begin August 15, 2015.

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

Student Enrollment

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.

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 her/his 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. All registered full-time students are default enrolled in the Gold level of the Plan if no valid request of a waiver is submitted and approved.

Students who successfully waive the insurance requirement may also request a waiver from the Columbia Health fee for the semester in which she/he is studying abroad.

International Students

Columbia University requires that all full-time students have medical 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.

Immunization Requirements

Learn more about immunization requirements for international students.

Students in Special Categories

Graduate students in the following categories who successfully waive the health insurance may also request to waive the Columbia Health fee. You must contact an Insurance Specialist at Columbia Health to request the waiver of the Columbia Health fee:

  • Registering solely to defend a dissertation
  • Registering solely for Matriculation and Facilities (M&F), Extended Residence (ER), or MFA Research
  • Registering solely for the Journalism full-time research or full-time special research programs

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. Most students who receive Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) benefits will have costs for the Columbia Health fee and the Gold level of the Columbia Plan covered by the fees portion of the GI Bill. 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 for June 23, 2014 - August 15, 2015
DateNotice
June 23 - September 19Open enrollment period for the Columbia Plan.
June 23 - October 14Continuation Plan enrollment period for students terminating coverage on 8/31.
July 1Early Arrival Plan, 2-Month Coverage, begins for new incoming students-coverage dates 7/1-8/31.
August 1Early Arrival Plan, 1-Month Coverage, begins for new incoming students-coverage dates 8/1-8/31.
August 31Columbia Plan terminates for Spring/Summer enrollees.
September 1Access to Columbia Health for the new academic year begins.
September 1Columbia Plan Fall term starts.
September 1Pharmacy benefits become available with a copay only if an insurance selection has been recorded and the student has registered for classes.
September 19Deadline 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.
September 19Deadline for enrolling in the Voluntary Plans (Aetna Advantage™ Dental Coverage, Dependents Coverage).
October 15Insurance cards are mailed to students who made no insurance selection by the 9/19 deadline.
January 19Columbia Plan Fall term ends.
January 20Columbia Plan Spring terms starts.
January 30Deadline for enrolling in the Columbia 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 8/31.
May 18Columbia Health Services begin for entering summer trimester students for period -5/18 - 8/14.
May 18Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan begins for entering summer trimester students for coverage period 5/18-8/31.
June 12Deadline for enrolling in the Columbia Plan for new trimester students only. Students who have taken no action by this date will be default enrolled into the Gold level of the Plan for the coverage period 5/18-8/14.
SummerInformation is sent to all students with important health-related information.
August 15Columbia Plan Fall term starts for the 2015-16 plan year.

Summer Trimester

 

Summer Trimester - 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.

New in-coming trimester part-time students may request enrollment in the Columbia Plan online.

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

Summer Trimester - Waive

To request a waiver from default enrollment in the Gold level of the Columbia Student Medical 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
 
TermDeadlineHow to Request a Waiver
Summer
(new trimester students only)
June 12, 2015n/a

 

Last updated July 24, 2014