Request a Waiver/Exception

Students can request a waiver (domestic students) or exception (international students) from mandatory enrollment by emailing the PDF request form no later than September 30, 2020.

In order to request a waiver or exception of enrollment in the Columbia Plan, you must have alternate coverage that meets the University requirements as outlined below. You must provide sufficient information regarding your alternate health insurance plan to allow independent verification that your plan meets the University requirements.

All requests are considered but approval is not guaranteed. Charges on your student account are only removed if a waiver or exception is approved.

All waivers and exceptions submitted will be reviewed for the Fall 2020 term only. Guidance regarding Spring 2021 will be announced later this year.

Download and submit via email to studentinsurance@columbia.edu no later than September 30, 2020 to be considered for 2020-2021 waiver consideration:

Note: For the 2020-2021 plan year, the waiver criteria have been updated to allow for additional flexibility in light of the current situation. Please select the criteria description below that best meets your scenario.

Waiver Criteria – Domestic Students – Residing on-campus or engaging in on-campus academic activities during the Fall 2020 term

Domestic students living in Columbia University-owned buildings (undergraduate and graduate) as well as students participating in on-campus classes and other academic activities are required to enroll in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan or provide proof of comparable coverage as described below.

Domestic on campus students should review their alternate coverage to determine whether it meets all of the following criteria:

  1. The plan must meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for routine, urgent, and emergent care for all of the act’s Essential Health Benefits in New York State. For a description of the act’s Essential Health Benefits, read Compare Your Coverage.
  2. The plan must be licensed to do business in the United States.
  3. The plan must be effective and remain in force for the duration of the schedule noted below.

Submit a waiver request

Download and submit via email to studentinsurance@columbia.edu no later than September 30, 2020 to be considered for 2020-2021 waiver consideration: 

    Students with approved waivers assume full responsibility for medical costs not covered by their health insurance plan.

    Waiver Criteria – Domestic Students – Online Only and not engaging in on-campus academic activities during the Fall 2020 term

    Domestic students engaging in only online academic activity, and requesting a waiver of enrollment in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan must provide proof of comparable coverage as described below.

    Domestic Students should review their alternate coverage to determine whether it meets all of the following criteria:

    1. The plan must meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for routine, urgent, and emergent care in the area where the student will reside for the fall 2020 term.
    2. The plan must be licensed to do business in the United States.
    3. The plan must be effective and remain in force for the duration of the schedule noted below.

    Students must also provide all of the following:

    1. Documentation of their location of residence for the Fall 2020 term
    2. Copy of the front and back of the insurance card

    Residency confirmation can be accomplished through one of the following options:

    • Recent copy of one of the following showing the name and address
      • Lease
      • Utility/Credit Card Statement
      • Bank Statement
    • Other comparable document showing name and address

    Submit a waiver request

    Download and submit via email to studentinsurance@columbia.edu no later than September 30, 2020 to be considered for 2020-2021 waiver consideration: 

      Students with approved waivers assume full responsibility for medical costs not covered by their health insurance plan.

      Schedule 

      New Students
      • Fall admits: August 15, 2020 to August 14, 2021
      • Spring admits: January 1, 2021 to August 14, 2021
      • Summer admits: May 1, 2021 to August 14, 2021
      Continuing Students
      • August 15, 2020 to August 14, 2021
      Graduating Students
      • August 15, 2020, the last day of the month in the last academic term in which the student is registered

      Exception Criteria – International Students – In the United States and those with I-20 permitting entry to the United States during the Fall 2020 term (regardless of arrival date).

      On a case-by-case basis, international students may be considered for an exception to the insurance requirement when covered by a US-based group health insurance plan (for example, a US-based, employer-sponsored, ACA-Compliant group plan).

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

      Note: Some programs whose students are considered short term visitors to campus may be eligible for an exception to the requirement.  Please contact the Student Health Insurance Office on the Morningside Campus or CUIMC Student Health Service for more information.

      Submit a exception request

      Download and submit via email to studentinsurance@columbia.edu no later than September 30, 2020 to be considered for 2020-2021 waiver consideration: International Student On-Campus Exception Form

      Students with approved exceptions assume full responsibility for medical costs not covered by their health insurance plan.

      Exception Criteria – International Students – Online, not in the United States, and no I-20 for entry to the United States during the Fall 2020 term (through 12/31/2020).

      On a case-by-case basis, international students may be considered for an exception to the insurance requirement when they can document they will remain in their home country and will not be in the United States during the full duration of the Fall 2020 term (through 12/31/2020).  Students residing in a third country (not home country and not the United States) are required to enroll in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan.

      International students must request an exception and provide the following:

      1. Proof of address where they reside.

      Residency confirmation can be accomplished through one of the following options

      • Recent copy of one of the following showing the name and address
        • Lease/Mortgage/Property deed
        • Utility/Credit Card Statement
        • Bank Statement
        • Other comparable document showing name and address

           2. Proof of health care insurance or comparable in their location of residence.

      Submit a exception request

      Download and submit via email to studentinsurance@columbia.edu no later than September 30, 2020 to be considered for 2020-2021 waiver consideration: International Online Student Exception Form

      Students with approved exceptions assume full responsibility for medical costs not covered by their health insurance plan.

      Any domestic student with active Medicaid coverage may request a waiver from the University 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 if the student in living in New York, as these plans may not provide coverage outside of their state of residence. All waiver requests are evaluated on an individual basis.

      When making 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 Medicaid state may not be included.

      New York State Medicaid-covered students may not be covered while outside of New York. In addition, referral options for students enrolled in Medicaid plans needing specialists’ care off-campus may be limited.

      Students with Medicaid who are interested in The Columbia Plan may wish to address concerns about cost with their school financial aid office.

      Every student’s policy coverage must meet the waiver requirements outlined by the University. Plans that do not meet these criteria are not considered adequate coverage and will not be accepted. 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 Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan may appear on the first student account statement, even if the student has requested a waiver. These charges will be removed if the request is approved within 10 business days of submitting the request.

      Health insurance benefits can vary from plan to plan. As domestic students considering either using The Columbia Plan or enrolling in an alternate insurance plan, here are a few points to consider before making a decision:

      1. Does the alternate insurance plan meet University criteria for comparable insurance coverage?
      2. Will you age out of an insurance plan carried by parents or legal guardians while you are at Columbia?
      3. What costs are involved in extending coverage provided through a previous employer, such as COBRA? Compare these with the premiums for the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan.

      A student unsure about how an alternate plan compares to The Columbia Plan should contact their insurance carrier for details about available benefits, including access to in-network providers in New York City, cost of in- and out-of-network providers, cost of lab examinations, prescription medication benefits, and any other frequently used benefits.

      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 services available on-campus (in-person and telehealth).
      • An on-campus clinician serves as a student’s primary care provider (with no co-pay).
      • Access to services is streamlined and paperwork is limited.
      • Students pay a co-pay for visits with consulting providers off-campus (when referred by an on-campus clinician) and for prescription medications.
      • The 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.
      • Benefits are included for emergency assistance while traveling outside the United States.
      • The plan covers an academic year, starting August 15, 2020 and ending August 14, 2021.

      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
      • Affordable Care Act (ACA)
      • New York State Department of Insurance