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Penn State Student Health Insurance Questions

Who is eligible to purchase the Penn State SHIP?

Most full and part-time graduate and undergraduate Penn State students are eligible to purchase the Penn State SHIP, even if coverage is not required.

Students eligible for SHIP include:

  • All current undergraduate students enrolled in three or more credit hours
  • Undergraduate students who are enrolled in the Intensive English Communication Program (IECP); or those who participate in a cooperative work experience program as part of their required academic program
  • Graduate Students enrolled in one or more credit hours. (Including Graduate Assistants and Graduate Fellows).

Please note: a change in student registration status that no longer meets the criteria listed above may result in termination of student health insurance benefits.

Who is NOT eligible to purchase the Penn State SHIP?
  • Undergraduate students enrolled in independent study through correspondence classes
  • Undergraduate students enrolled in home study, correspondence, and television courses
  • Individuals not enrolled at Penn State who are currently auditing courses
  • World Campus students
Am I eligible for the Penn State SHIP if I am a World Campus student?

World Campus students are not eligible to purchase the Penn State SHIP.

How do I enroll in the Penn State SHIP?

Undergraduate Students and Graduate and Professional Students Without Assistantships (domestic and international)

  1. Visit www.firststudent.com
  2. Select “Pennsylvania State University”
  3. Click “Enroll Now – Health Insurance”
  4. Follow the instructions to enroll

Domestic Graduate Assistants and Fellows
Graduate Assistants and Graduate Fellows are automatically enrolled in the Penn SHIP each fall semester for medical, dental, and vision coverage. If you choose to accept this coverage, no further action is required.

If you want to enroll eligible dependents in the Penn State SHIP, you must complete a dependent enrollment form through the Workday.

International Graduate Assistants and Fellows

Step 1

  • Visit the First Student website.
  • Select "Pennsylvania State University"
  • Click "Waive Your School's Insurance"

Please note: selecting "Waive Your School's Insurance," does NOT indicate that you wish to decline SHIP coverage, rather, that you acknowledge the Penn State SHIP and agree to the monthly paycheck deduction schedule.

Enter the following policy details for the Penn State SHIP

  • Visa – Select appropriate visa type
  • Answer “Yes” to questions 1-13
  • Company Name: UHCSR
  • Member ID: 000
  • Group #: 2017-547-2
  • Is your Insurance Policy through a U.S. based employer plan? No
  • Is your Insurance Plan part of a Medicaid Program? No
  • Is your insurance sponsored by your Government: No
  • Are you a graduate assistant/fellow? Yes
  • Policy Holder First Name: Your First Name
  • Policy Holder Last Name: Your Last Name
  • Policy Holder Date of Birth: Your Date of Birth
  • Policy Holder Member ID Number: 000
  • Insurance Company Phone Number: 888-224-4810
  • Insurance Company Address: P.O. Box 809025
  • Insurance Company City: Dallas
  • Insurance Company State: TX
  • Insurance Company Zip Code: 75380
  • Insurance Plan Type: PPO

Step 2

If you want to enroll eligible dependents in the Penn State SHIP, you must complete a dependent enrollment form through the Workday.

Why have health insurance rates seen an increase nationally over the last several years?

Health insurance rates have seen a steady incline nationally over the past decade. This is due in part government policy changes as well as lifestyle changes among the population.

Health care costs have skyrocketed and those costs are passed along to the end consumer—this includes everything from diagnostic tests and procedures to hospital stays and prescription medications. In addition, chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease are on the rise in the U.S. They are expensive and difficult to treat.

All of these factors combined drive the cost of health insurance within the United States.

Why are undergraduate student and graduate student health insurance rates different?

The undergraduate student population is higher than the graduate student population at Penn State. In a group health insurance plan, the cost of the associated health risks of a few people are spread over an entire group; the more people in the group, the lower the cost to the individual.

How do I pay the insurance premium?

For undergraduate students and graduate students without an assistantship or fellowship, your insurance premium will be paid directly to United Healthcare Student Resources at the time of enrollment and can be paid by credit card or electronic check. Graduate assistants and graduate will have their percentage of the insurance premium deducted from their paycheck.

Can financial aid be applied to the Penn State SHIP charge?

No, financial aid cannot be applied toward health insurance premiums.

Where can I find information on the benefits for the Penn State SHIP?

SHIP policy details are available on the First Student website.

When does my insurance go into effect?

Undergraduate and Graduate students:

  • Fall 2017 – August 10, 2017
  • Spring/Summer 2018 – January 1, 2018
  • Summer I – May 1, 2018
  • Summer II – June 15, 2018

Penn State College of Medicine students:

  • Annual (first-year student) – July 10, 2017
  • Annual – August 1, 2017
  • Spring 2018 – January 1, 2018
  • Summer 2018 – May 1, 2018
I am losing medical insurance. Can I get enrolled in the Penn State SHIP?

Yes, you will need to provide the Certificate of Credible Coverage or a letter from the insurance company that states that your medical insurance is being terminated and the date of the termination. This letter needs to be received by the Student Health Insurance office within 31 days of the termination date. The letter can be emailed to uhs-insurance@psu.edu or faxed to 814-863-1390. The Student Health Insurance office will then provide you with a pro-rated enrollment form to be completed and returned for processing.

Graduate Assistants and Graduate Fellows

Please log in to Workday and complete a new "Benefit Event." You will be able to upload your Certificate of Credible Coverage directly to the Workday system.

When/how do I get my insurance card?

Please visit Workday and verify that your address is listed correctly. Contact the office of Student Health Insurance with additional questions.

I didn’t receive my insurance ID card? How can I get my medical insurance ID card?

Please visit Workday and verify that your address is listed correctly. Contact the office of Student Health Insurance with additional questions.

Can I add dependents to the Penn State SHIP?

Yes, read the eligible dependent policy on the UHS website then visit the First Student website. Select your College or University to get started.

Graduate Assistants and Graduate Fellows can enroll their dependents through Workday. Dependent re-enrollment must be completed every fall to maintain desired benefits.

Am I still covered by the Penn State SHIP if I am not enrolled in classes during the summer?

Yes, as long as you are actively attending classes for the first 31 days of a coverage period your coverage will continue through August 12, 2018, if enrolled in the annual or spring/summer policy.

If I need to take a medical leave of absence from Penn State can I keep my health insurance plan?

If you withdraw from school within the first 31 days of a coverage period you will not be covered under the policy and the full premium will be refunded less claims paid. After 31 days of a coverage period, your coverage will continue through the end of your coverage period.

Does my insurance coverage end on the day I graduate?

No, your coverage will continue through the end of your coverage period. Fall coverage terminates December 31, 2017, annual and spring/summer coverage terminates August 12, 2018.

Where can I find a list of the preferred providers for the insurance plans?

Medical Go to the First Student website. Select your College or University to get started.

Dental (Graduate Assistants/Graduate Fellows only) - For in-network Centre County providers please see the student health insurance website.
For in-network providers outside Centre County please see United Concordia’s website for information on the Advantage Network.

Vision (Graduate Assistants/Graduate Fellows only) - For in-network providers please see the Highmark Blue Shield website- Click on Find a Doctor or Rx. Click on Find an Eye Care Provider.

When is the deadline to purchase or waive health insurance?
  • Fall deadline - September 5, 2017
  • Spring deadline - January 16, 2018
  • Summer I - May 21, 2018
  • Summer II - July 5, 2018
How can I learn if a particular test/procedure is covered under the Penn State SHIP?

The Penn State Student Health Insurance office can attempt to answer general benefit questions based on the current insurance plan policy, however, specific benefits questions should be referred to United Healthcare Student Resources.

My claim was denied for no referral from Penn State University Health Services. Can I get a retroactive referral from UHS?

University Park students and their covered spouse must obtain a referral from University Health Services before receiving any medical care outside of the Student Health Center. Referrals are needed for each diagnosis/condition, and a new referral must be obtained each academic/policy year. If the covered student or their covered spouse does not obtain a referral from UHS, no benefits will be payable. After a claim denial, you can contact one of the referral desks at University Health Services to inquire if there is any exception to the requirement that the referral is written prior to medical care outside of the Student Health Center. In general, referrals are not written retroactively.

Will University Health Services accept my private health insurance?

University Health Services will collect your private insurance information and attempt to determine if your policy is active. University Health Services will submit a claim to MOST private insurance plans on your behalf for services rendered at the Student Health Center. Any amount that is not covered by your insurance may be billed to you or your Bursar account after the claim has been processed.

University Health Services does NOT check your insurance plan benefits.

University Health Services can NOT determine if your insurance is accepted or participating

If you would like to know whether or not your insurance plan will pay for your University Health Services visits, your insurance company is the most reliable source to help you. 

  • Call the customer service phone number on the back of your insurance card.
  • To determine if University Health Services is "in-network/participating," give the following information
    • NPI # 1316063126
    • Tax ID # 246000376
    • Address: 308 Student Health Center, University Park, PA 16802

Your insurance plan can give you information related to co-pays, deductible, and plan limitations. Even if University Health Services is considered in-network/participating, you may still have charges related to your co-pay, deductible, or benefit package.

I am financially unable to purchase health insurance. Are support resources available?

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services provides health care support and medical assistance to need-based individuals. For more information, and to learn if you qualify, please visit:

PA Department of Human Services Health Care and Medical Assistance page

To locate an assistance office near the campus you attend visit:

PA Department of Human Services County Assistance Office Contact Information

I am uninsured at the campus I attend. Why should I consider purchasing the Penn State SHIP?

Many students arrive at Penn State uninsured or underinsured, and are not covered to receive health care services. Health care services can be very costly and unexpected expenses can be disruptive to a student’s academic progress. The Penn State SHIP provides students with high-coverage health insurance at a competitive price and is recognized widely at all Penn State campus locations and within the United States.

International Student Questions

What is health insurance?

When a large group of people (both sick and healthy) pay an established amount of money for some protection against future health costs their money is put together in one fund, called an insurance pool. When members of the fund get sick or injured and incur medical costs, money is taken from this insurance pool to pay for part or all of their costs. People in the United States are financially responsible for their own medical or health care needs.

Who is required to have health insurance?

Penn State requires all international undergraduate and graduate students, and any accompanying dependents to have health insurance coverage. They must either purchase the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or submit proof of coverage that meets a specific set of requirements.

Why does Penn State require international students to have health insurance?

Health care can be very costly and the United States does not have a national health care plan. Without health insurance, health services could be restricted.

What requirements does my insurance coverage need to meet in order to waive the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan?
What information do I need to waive the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan?

To waive insurance you will need to be enrolled in a comparable insurance plan that meets the waiver requirements. You will need a copy of your active insurance ID card and your insurance policy brochure. Your insurance effective dates must be for the academic year (August 10, 2017 – August 12, 2018) or if later from your arrival date in the United States per arrival stamp on Passport/VISA thru August 9, 2018.

What is the process to waive the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan?

International Undergraduate/Graduate/Professional Students Without Assistantship

  • Visit www.firststudent.com
  • Select “Pennsylvania State University”
  • Click “Waive Your School’s Health Insurance”
  • Enter policy details for an alternate health insurance plan that meets all of the waiver criteria when prompted

International Graduate Assistants and Fellows

  • Step 1 
    • Visit www.firststudent.com
    • Select “Pennsylvania State University”
    • Click “Waive Your School’s Health Insurance”
    • Enter policy details for an alternate health insurance plan that meets all of the waiver criteria when prompted
  • Step 2 - If you choose to decline medical, dental or vision coverage, you must also complete a declination form through Workday. If you choose to decline medical coverage for an accompanying, eligible dependent you must contact the Student Health Insurance office to provide proof of acceptable, alternate coverage.
Do I have to submit a new waiver every semester? Every year?

International students who wish to waive the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan need to submit a waiver application each fall semester. New students who begin at Penn State in the spring or summer will need to submit a waiver application their first semester and then each fall semester after that.

Will the Student Health Insurance office review my outside insurance benefits policy to see if it meets the waiver standards?

Waiver applications will be reviewed through the First Student website.

Why doesn't Penn State provide a list of comparable insurances that are accepted for a waiver?

The University has gone through a competitive process to continue to offer quality health care benefits at a competitive price. Students have been part of the process for making decisions about health insurance for many years. The Student Insurance Advisory Board/Council (SIAB/C), which includes representatives from the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), the Commonwealth Campus Student Government (CCSG), and representatives from other international student organizations were invited to take part in the selection of a new health insurance carrier. These groups also provide input to University Health Services and its Student Health Insurance Office regarding the Penn State SHIP, including the selection of insurer, plan design, and mechanisms to manage costs. As the University has vetted the providers for the students, the plan that the University has contracted with is the only plan that is promoted and encouraged.

Graduate Student Questions

What is the website to enroll dependents or decline benefits for the Graduate Assistants and Graduate Fellows)?

Graduate assistants and graduate fellows can enroll additional dependents or decline benefits through Workday

I am a graduate assistant/fellow who wishes to enroll in SHIP. I understand that enrollment is automatic. Do I need to do anything else?

Please visit the Workday website to acknowledge your student status and to ensure that your enrollment is processed.

I didn’t receive my dental and/or vision ID card

Graduate assistants/fellows who did not receive a dental and/or vision ID card should log in to Workday to verify that their address is entered correctly in the system. If your address is correct and you feel as though there has been an error, please contact the Penn State Student Health Insurance Office at
uhs-insurance@psu.edu or 814- 865-7467

How do I update my address in the payroll system?

Graduate assistant and graduate fellow address updates must be recorded in Workday.

International Graduate assistants/fellows Your address must also be updated through your department.

What impacts the costs of the Student Health Insurance Plan?

Many factors impact the costs of health insurance for students. The Penn State SHIP covers all students, which includes graduate students as well as undergraduate, medical and law students, and certain categories of visiting scholars.

The primary determinants of health insurance costs are the medical costs of students paid by the plan. A platinum plan must pay out between 88 percent - 92 percent of the premium it collects as medical benefits. Additional costs associated with the plan include taxes and fees that insurers must pay to support medical and health services research, charges for administration and marketing of the plan, and risk charges associated with the size of the group being insured. In addition, since insurers in the United States are private companies, there are costs associated with the profits that the company earns to enable distribution to shareholders, research and development, and similar future expenses to be paid from retained earnings.

There are several ways that students and their families impact the overall costs. As health care consumers, the choices individuals make drive overall costs. If the group of students collectively make choices that lead to the insurer paying out more than 92 percent of the premium, the insurer is going to increase the premium in future years. Student choices about whether to use an in-network provider or out-of-network provider, whether to get good primary care or delay care in ways that might later require expensive emergency treatment, whether to get a flu shot, or whether to have a discussion with their doctor about the most cost-effective ways to address a health issue, all factor into the current and future health plan costs.

Another significant factor that impacts that cost of health insurance is the number of students that enroll in the plan. When a large number of students enroll in the plan, the statistical predictability of their overall health care costs becomes more reliable. When enrollments decline, insurers will increase the risk charge to prevent a situation where they collect too little premium to pay for the medical costs. So, a smaller group of students enrolled in a plan drives up the cost of health insurance for all students.

Does Penn State cover the costs of health insurance for graduate students?

Penn State subsidizes health insurance (medical, dental and vision) for graduate assistants and full-time graduate fellows and graduate trainees.

The University contributes 80 percent of the annual medical premium for graduate assistants, fellows and trainees, and 75 percent -76 percent for dependent coverage.

The University also contributes 80 percent of the premium costs for individual and 70 percent for family plans for dental and vision insurance for graduate assistants (and typically for fellows and trainees, as well).

Who at Penn State makes decisions about the University’s Student Health Insurance Plan? Are graduate students part of this process?

Students have been part of the process for making decisions about health insurance for many years. While insurers make the decision to contract with the University, graduate students serve as representatives on two groups, the Student Insurance Advisory Board (SIAB) and the Student Insurance Administrative Council (SIAC). SIAB and SIAC, including its student representatives, work with UHS and its Student Health Insurance Office regarding the SHIP at Penn State, including the selection of insurer, plan design, and mechanisms to manage costs.