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Understanding Student Health Insurance (USHIP)

With the waiver deadline around the corner on October 25th, here is some helpful information about the University Student Health Insurance Program.

Hello University of Chicago Parents!

Over the past year Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) has initiated a series of changes to improve our outreach and services to students, and to solicit ongoing feedback in an effort to better address health and wellness needs across campus. One topic that both students and parents often find challenging is student health insurance.  

This year, SHCS has hired additional staff to provide students and families with enhanced service and information about student health insurance. In the coming months, we will be finding new ways to communicate with parents directly regarding student health insurance options. We would like to provide you with a brief overview of some key information, requirements, deadlines, and ways we communicate with your student regarding student insurance at the University of Chicago, to keep you up-to-date and informed.

How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Student Health Insurance

Challenges with understanding student health insurance have been heightened by many changes impacting insurance in general, and student insurance specifically, as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For example, the ACA allows students to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, requires insurance plans to cover preventive services with no copayment, and prohibits insurance companies from refusing coverage or limiting benefits due to pre-existing medical conditions.

University Requirements regarding Student Health Insurance

The University of Chicago requires all students to carry health insurance with designated benefit requirements, to cover known and/or unanticipated outpatient and specialist costs, lab tests, hospitalization, diagnostic and surgical procedures, prescription medications, and whatever other medical and mental health services are not provided at the Student Health Service (SHS) or Student Counseling Service (SCS). Services at the SHS and SCS are covered by the Student Life Fee, which all registered students are assessed each quarter (for more information about what this fee covers, see here: http://studenthealth.uchicago.edu/page/student-life-fee ).

To ensure that all students have adequate insurance coverage, the University automatically enrolls all registered students into the University Student Health Insurance Plan, or U-SHIP. Students who wish to use U-SHIP coverage are encouraged to confirm their enrollment as soon as possible, or their data is not recognized by United Healthcare, the University’s insurance provider, until after the enrollment/waiver deadline. This deadline is 5pm central time on the fourth Friday of a student’s first quarter of enrollment in the academic year – for autumn quarter 2013, this deadline is Friday, October 25.

How to Waive U-SHIP

Students who wish to opt out of U-SHIP coverage, either because they are covered under their parents’ insurance or because they have alternate insurance coverage of their own, are encouraged to waive their U-SHIP enrollment as soon as possible, to avoid billing charges from the bursar’s office for the first quarter’s premium. If students fail to waive their U-SHIP coverage by the enrollment/waiver deadline – Friday, October 25th – they will remain enrolled in U-SHIP for the full plan year and will be billed in three quarterly installments for the annual premium. Once students waive their enrollment, charges billed for the first premium installment are reversed on their bursar bill.

Students may confirm or waive their U-SHIP enrollment at the online Enrollment / Waiver Application site: https://studentinsurance.uchicago.edu/authenticate.php .

Help us Communicate Deadlines to Students

This year’s open enrollment period for U-SHIP runs from July 1 through October 25, 2013. Students who arrived on campus in August, for required academic and sports programs, were first notified by email of the U-SHIP enrollment /waiver requirements in July. New and returning students who arrived on campus beginning in September were first notified by email of the U-SHIP enrollment /waiver requirements in mid-August. We are continuing to email students who have not yet confirmed or waived their U-SHIP enrollment to ensure that all students have the insurance coverage they desire, and that no student is billed for insurance coverage they do not need or want.

However, we ask you to partner with us to help your student understand this process, and if they have not done so already, take the steps to confirm or waive their U-SHIP enrollment. If you or they have questions about U-SHIP, UC hosts two on-campus United Healthcare representatives to answer questions, explain plan benefits, and help students navigate the insurance system; they can be reached by email at uchicagoadvocates@uhcsr.com, or by phone at 773-834-4543 (select option 2).

We’re Here to Help

Additionally, this past summer we hired a university Student Health Insurance Coordinator to serve as an advocate for students who are experiencing issues with United Healthcare, as well as to improve communication and outreach to students, parents, and administrators regarding student insurance, and to implement process improvements. For more information about student health insurance at the University, we encourage you to explore our webpages at http://studenthealth.uchicago.edu/page/student-health-insurance-0.

We look forward to a successful and healthy academic year!