About the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan

Having insurance is key to helping ensure predictable health care costs and to support students in the achievement of their personal and academic goals.  In an effort to reinforce this aim, Columbia requires most students to have comprehensive health insurance as part of enrollment in the University. 

The Columbia Plan works with Columbia Health to provide consistent, efficient care. The plan will always pay benefits in accordance with applicable New York State insurance laws.

Medical Services provides primary care for students enrolled in the Columbia Plan. Clinicians in Medical Services and Counseling and Psychological Services work closely with Aetna Student Health claims administrators to arrange access to benefits available through the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan.

The Columbia Plan may not cover all of your health care expenses. Read the Student Health Insurance Plan Brochure carefully before making your insurance decision.

About Enrollment

Open Enrollment for the 2021-2022 plan year: July 15 - September 30, 2021

Confirm/request enrollment in the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan.

  1. Log on to SSOL.
  2. Scroll down to the section, Miscellaneous and click Health Insurance Enrollment
  3. Read the terms carefully. Click Enroll/Confirm
  4. Click the button for The Columbia Plan, and the checkboxes related to the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee.
  5. Click Submit Enrollment Form

Once you have registered for courses and have been billed tuition, insurance will be activated within 7 business days.


Please note: The insurance premium is billed by semester. You are enrolled in the Columbia Plan for a full plan year (August 15 of the current year through August 14 of the next year) as long as you remain a registered student. If you will not be a registered student for the spring term, your coverage will terminate on December 31 and you will only be billed for the fall term.

Each academic year, all registered full-time students must make an insurance selection. They must either:

  • Confirm enrollment in the Columbia Plan (Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan), or
  • Request a waiver from mandatory enrollment in the Columbia Plan (domestic students only)

Full-time students will be enrolled in the Columbia Plan if they do not make an enrollment selection or if no waiver request has been submitted by the open enrollment deadline.

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 University Student Health Insurance Plan premium for the student and eligible dependents.

Students at Teachers CollegeUnion Theological SeminaryJewish Theological Seminary, and Columbia University Medical Center should contact their school for health insurance information.

New incoming and continuing Fall 2021 part-time domestic students are not automatically enrolled in the Columbia plan. However, they may request enrollment in the Columbia Plan by the September 30, 2021 deadline and are encouraged to do so. Enrolling also requires payment of the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee, which provides access to the services offered by Columbia Health.

Navigating the US Health Care System can be complex.  To help ensure that international students have access to the highest quality of care on- and off-campus, Columbia University requires all international students to enroll in the Columbia Plan.

International students are defined as any enrolled student that is not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident.  All international students, regardless of the number of enrolled credits, will be enrolled in the Columbia Plan.

On a case-by-case basis, international students may be considered for an exemption to this requirement when covered by a US-based group health insurance plan.  An example of what may be considered as an exemption for international students is a US-based, employer-sponsored, ACA-Compliant group plan.

In order to petition for a waiver, an international student must first document they are covered by a plan that meets the one potential exception described above. Once confirmed the plan is of an eligible category, the plan must then meet all of the Columbia University waiver requirements.  All exemptions requests are considered though no approval is guaranteed.  All determinations regarding exemptions are made by the Student Health Insurance Office on the Morningside Campus and shall be considered final.

Student-veterans may be eligible for health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs for illnesses and injuries related to their service. Columbia Health recommends that student-veterans confirm their status with Veterans Affairs and, if necessary, complete the paperwork needed to receive benefits in the New York City area.

Full time student-veterans will be default enrolled into the Columbia Plan and billed the insurance premium, unless a waiver request is submitted via the Patient Portal and approved by the appropriate deadline.

For additional information about health care coverage for Columbia student-veterans, visit the Student Financial Services Veterans & Service Members website.

If you are a dual-degree student (for example, TC/MBA or SPH/SIPA, etc.), and are transferring campuses mid-academic plan year (fall/spring), the following will apply:

The campus where you begin your academic enrollment, determines your Health and Related Service Fee (HRSF) and Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan enrollment for the entire plan year (August 15th – August 14th). For example, if you begin your enrollment at one of the affiliate schools (CUMC, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary or Jewish Theological Seminary) in the fall, you will remain enrolled on that student health insurance plan through August 15th as long as you remain a registered student.

About the Plan

For the 2021-2022 academic year (August 15, 2021 - August 14, 2022), Columbia University is offering The Columbia Plan to meet students’ health-related needs beyond the on-campus services offered by Columbia Health. The Columbia Plan includes benefits for medical and mental health conditions including but not limited to chiropractic care, prescriptions, travel abroad benefits and more. The Columbia Plan is a worldwide plan providing access to coverage throughout the U.S. and internationally. 

Highlights:

  • No in-network deductible
  • $30 office copay
  • $20 mental health copay 
  • $150 emergency room copay
  • $60 urgent care center copay
  • $15/$50/$75 prescription copays
  • $30 co-pay on in-network services (e.g. laboratory, radiology)
  • $3,000 in-network annual out-of-pocket maximum
  • Annual premium of $3,892 for students (Fall - $1,483 / Spring $2,409) 

Columbia Health also offers a voluntary vision insurance plan ($65) in addition to the voluntary dental insurance plan ($455).

Put together, these medical, dental, and vision options provide a comprehensive coverage package for our students at prices substantially lower than plans offered via the New York State Healthcare Marketplace.


For information regarding Dental and Vision insurance please visit Voluntary Plans.

Dental Discount Benefits for Students Enrolled in the Columbia Plan

Students enrolled in the Columbia Plan have access to covered preventive dental services and specially discounted rates for other dental needs through Columbia Doctors Dentistry.

The Columbia Plan includes:

  • One routine examination per plan year
  • X-rays as needed and with the routine examination
  • One dental cleaning (prophylaxis) per plan year
  • Evaluation of emergency dental conditions 
  • A $20 copay per visit
  • A 25% discount off self-pay fees on additional services (effective for the 2021-2022 plan year)

These dental benefits are operated by Columbia Doctors Dentistry and are not underwritten by Aetna or administered by Aetna Student Health.

Locations

 

Aetna Vision℠ Discount Program for Students Enrolled in the Columbia Plan

The Aetna Vision℠ Discount Program is available to all students enrolled in the Columbia Plan, which provides access to discounted prices for many eye care products, including sunglasses, contact lenses, non-prescription sunglasses, contact lens solutions, and other eye care accessories. Plus, students can receive discounts on LASIK surgery, the laser vision correction procedure. A listing of participating providers is available through the Aetna DocFind© feature.

Providers closest to the Morningside campus are:

Aetna Student Health maintains a comprehensive network of providers within the United States.  When students are 50 miles or more away from campus and need routine, urgent or emergency care, they may select an in-network provider using the Provider Search feature on the Aetna Student Health website for Open Choice Student Health Medical Plans. Medically necessary care, received by an in-network provider, is covered by Aetna Student Health according to the plan design.

The Columbia Plan year is effective from August 15 to August 14 contingent on student registration and tuition charges.

  • Students beginning their academic program any time during the fall and continue as a registered student in the spring term, coverage is effective at 12:00 a.m. August 15 and ends at 11:59 p.m. August 14. This includes spring graduates. 
  • Students completing an academic program in December in anticipation of a February graduation, or those who do not register for Spring courses are covered through 11:59 p.m. December 31 and are billed the fall premium only.
  • Students graduating in October are categorically ineligible for enrollment in the Columbia Plan.  Eligibility for coverage ended August 14.
  • Spring: Coverage for new spring admitted students is effective 12:00 am January 1 through 11:59 pm August 14.
  • Summer: Coverage for new summer admitted students is effective 12:00am May 1 through 11:59pm August 14.

Eligibility for the plan is contingent on course registration and tuition charges for all students.  There is no option to begin the plan earlier than the dates specified above. 

For students entering in the fall term who have not actively enrolled in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan, registered for classes and been charged tuition, may need to submit expenses for covered prescriptions filled before their coverage has been activated to Aetna Pharmacy Management for reimbursement. For more information, see Aetna’s Commercial Prescription Drug Claim Form.

Once an insurance coverage decision has been determined for the fall term either by automatic enrollment, online selection, or waiver request, that decision will automatically be continued in the following spring term as long as the student remains registered at the University. 

The total health insurance premium includes fee-for-service items provided by Columbia Health, a preventative dental benefit, as well as administrative expenses associated with servicing the insurance plan (including certain personnel expenses incurred by the Columbia Health Insurance office). In addition, based on aggregate claims experience, Aetna may issue a refund to Columbia to be applied toward future premiums. For more information, contact Aetna Student Health at 800-859-8471.

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.

Note: The Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan may not cover all of your health care expenses. The plan excludes coverage for certain services and contains limitations on the amounts it will pay. Please read the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan brochure carefully before deciding which plan is right for you. While this document will tell you about some of the important features of The Plan, other features may be important to you and some may further limit what The Plan will pay.While this document will tell you about some of the important features of The Plan, other features may be important to you and some may further limit what The Plan will pay.

If you are enrolled in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan, your primary care provider is at Columbia Health Medical Services and your initial mental health provider is at Counseling and Psychological Services. A referral by a Medical Service or Counseling and Psychological Services clinician is mandatory when seeking non-emergency off-campus services. If a referral is not obtained prior to seeking care, services will be reimbursed at the out-of-network benefit level at a higher out-of-pocket cost.

Note: Referrals cannot be issued after a student has received off-campus services.

Watch this video for more information: How to: Referrals and the Columbia Plan.

The Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan may not cover all of your health care expenses. The plan excludes coverage for certain services and contains limitations on the amounts it will pay.

Read the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan brochure carefully to better understand the plan. 

While this document will tell you about some of the important features of the plan, other features may be important to you and some may further limit what the plan will pay.

It is the student's responsibility to make sure an off-campus provider is a preferred provider in the Aetna network to be eligible for the highest level of benefits. If students elect to receive care from an out-of-network provider, charges in excess of the allowed amount and applicable deductible or co-insurance will not be covered, and students will be financially responsible for those charges.

Watch this video for more information: How to Submit Claims Through the Aetna Member Portal.

Students can visit the Aetna Student Health website for a full listing of providers nationwide. Click on “Find a Doctor,” enter the local zip code, and indicate membership in a "Student Health Plan.”

After students obtain a referral from their Columbia Health primary care or mental health provider, they should select an Aetna in-network provider to maximize savings and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Students can achieve significant savings through the agreement with Aetna regarding rates of payment for services.

It is the student's responsibility to make sure an off-campus provider is a preferred provider in the Aetna network to be eligible for the highest level of benefits. If students elect to receive care from an out-of-network provider, charges in excess of the allowed amount and applicable deductible or co-insurance will not be covered, and students will be financially responsible for those charges.

Using the Provider Directory

Participating providers are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Aetna Student Health or Columbia University. The availability of any particular provider cannot be guaranteed for referred or in-network benefits. Provider network composition is subject to change without notice.

Certain primary care physicians may be affiliated with an independent practice association, a physician medical group, an integrated delivery system, or one of other provider groups.

Not every provider listed in the directory will accept new patients. Although Aetna has identified providers who were accepting patients at the time the directory was created, the status of a provider's practice may have changed. For the most current information, contact the selected physician or Aetna Student Health at 800-859-8471.

In the event of a problem with coverage, contact Aetna Student Health to learn how to utilize the complaint and appeals procedure when appropriate. All care and related decisions are the sole responsibility of participating providers. Aetna does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes.

Students can expedite receipt of their insurance ID by actively confirming enrollment in The Columbia Plan prior to the open enrollment deadline. After an online selection has been entered, a card is normally available to print by accessing the Aetna Student Health website 14 business days after registering for classes and being charged tuition & fees. Physical ID cards are only mailed upon request. To obtain an ID card by mail please call Aetna Customer Service at 800-859-8471. Students can also access their insurance information through the Aetna Mobile app.

To print an insurance ID card, please use the student's UNI and Date of Birth.  

Prior to receiving access to print an insurance ID card, healthcare providers may require that students pay for the services and then seek reimbursement from Aetna Student Health (medical claims) or Aetna Pharmacy Management (pharmacy claims).

Watch this video for more information: How to Print Aetna Student Health Insurance Card.