Health Insurance 101

Understand and Choose Among Your Three Insurance Options 

Welcome to UCSC! You may be here after viewing your summer orientation module, or maybe you just want a refresher on how health insurance works for UCSC students. Let’s talk about your three options: UC SHIP, your own health insurance, or your own insurance with CruzCare.

What’s the UC health insurance requirement?

UC Regents require every student to have access to health insurance that works locally while attending UCSC. Students are required to provide documentation to prove that they are enrolled in a health insurance plan that meets the UC requirements. 

The UC Regents also require UCSC to provide students with a health insurance plan that meets this requirement. This plan is called the UC Student Health Insurance Plan, or UC SHIP. It covers students living on campus and those living off-campus through:
  • In-person visits to UCSC’s Student Health Services
  • In-person visits to other UC Student Health Centers across California
  • A variety of telehealth services (phone and video appointments). See our current telehealth services here. They include appointments for medical and mental health, a pharmacy mailing program, free wellness coaching and nutrition consultations, and more.
  • Healthcare access that's 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, and 365 days per year!

How do I meet that requirement?

Meeting the UC Health Insurance Requirements. See PDF version below.

All UC students are automatically enrolled and charged for UC SHIP. UC SHIP meets the requirement.

You can also use your own private insurance if you submit documentation showing that your insurance meets the UC health insurance requirements. If you use private insurance, you’ll get most of your healthcare off-campus and will choose a local medical provider under your private health insurance plan. You can still use the Student Health Center for most services, but it will cost more and we can’t bill your insurance. 

When you have submitted the documents and information to show us that you will use your own insurance, we say that you have waived or opted-out of our UC SHIP. We’ll talk about how to do that in the next section.

How do I choose which health insurance I should use?

To decide which insurance to use, compare the benefits of your plan with the benefits of UC SHIP (see the brochure under “What is UC SHIP?” 

For some of you, UC SHIP will be less expensive than your current private insurance plan. 

For others, the cost of UC SHIP’s premium is included in your financial aid award. Check your financial aid package or review it in the My UCSC Portal Student Services section.

UC Santa Cruz has some special considerations:

  • The requirement states that you must have a provider within 30 miles of campus.
  • UCSC is miles from town and getting to off-campus medical care can be challenging.
  • The Student Health Center is not “in-network” with any other health insurance plans.
  • If something changes part way through the year and you need to use a different insurance option, you will have the opportunity to accept or opt out of UC SHIP prior to the start of each quarter.

Can you help me understand health insurance terminology before I choose?

Here's a helpful a “Health Care 101” video.

The chart below shows common health insurance terminology. Prices reflect the 2020-2021 academic year.

UC SHIP at-a-glance coverage. See PDF version below.
Get this UC SHIP Info graphic as a larger PDF

Why choose UC SHIP?

  • You’re covered after-hours, year-round and worldwide. If you’re staying off-campus or in another city, you’re still covered and can use telehealth services for video or phone appointments.
  • If you’re staying in Santa Cruz, UC SHIP gives you on-campus care that’s comprehensive, convenient, and focused on the care of young adults.
  • Full Medical, Counseling, Pharmacy, Vision and Dental benefits are covered, and so are hospitalizations, speciality care, and emergency care. 
  • You aren’t charged for contraception.
  • Charges are billable to your student account.
  • UC SHIP has excellent pharmacy benefits.

Can I use the Student Health Center if I keep my private insurance? 

Any registered student can use the Student Health Center. Fees vary. But without UC SHIP, we can’t tell you if your insurer will reimburse you for the charges generated by your visit.

The Student Health Center is not a contracted provider with any other health insurance plan, including other Anthem plans. 

To use the health center more affordably with private insurance, consider purchasing CruzCare. Cruzcare is optional, pre-paid access for students who waive UC SHIP but want the convenience of Student Health Services. It’s not health insurance.

How might costs vary based on insurance coverage?

First, you may want to compare the current UC SHIP premiums with your private insurance premiums.

Next, take a look at the "UC SHIP At-a-Glance Coverage Information" chart above to see information about co-insurance, deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums.

Then, take a look at the chart below to see what the costs are for using the Student Health Center for a common problem: a sore throat.

What will on-campus healthcare cost? See PDF version below.
Get "What Will On-Campus Healthcare Cost" graphic as a larger PDF

Is there anything else I should know about health care at UCSC?

Our mission is to keep you healthyphysically and mentallyso you succeed academically. If you have complex health problems, get in touch with us so we can get you what you need.

Remember!
  • Health insurance is required.
  • It’s your choice what insurance plan you want to use.
  • Either fill out the online waiver (discussed below) if you don’t want UC SHIP. Do nothing if you do want UC SHIP.
  • If you waive UC SHIP, we strongly recommend purchasing CruzCare.

What does it mean that I have to “waive” UC SHIP if I want to use my own insurance plan? 

  • Waiving is only for students who are using private insurance.
  • To waive the insurance is a way of saying that you do not want the UC SHIP plan. 
  • To do this, you must complete a waiver online. Your complete and accepted waiver tells us, “Cancel UC SHIP.” By completing the waiver you won’t be billed for UC SHIP.

Can I use any private insurance plan I want?

  • No. UC requires that your private insurance meets specific standards:
    • Unrestricted access to in-network primary care
    • Unrestricted access to behavioral health care
    • Access to a hospital providing full non-emergency care
    • Access to a primary care provider within 30 miles of campus or your place of residence while attending school
    • Cannot be a reimbursement-based plan. 
    • Must meet the limits for Out-Of-Pocket Maximum and Deductibles.
    • International students have additional requirements

What other things should I consider before waiving?

  • Does your private health insurance work in the Santa Cruz area? Some health insurances like Medi-Cal only work in your home county or vicinity.
  • Are there providers who accept your plan here in Santa Cruz?
  • Are you able to get off campus to see your medical provider?
  • Are there local providers for your health insurance who are taking new patients?
  • Are you covered by two insurance plans? Some students accept UC SHIP and keep their private health insurance. This is called “having dual coverage.” UC SHIP is typically the “secondary plan” off campus, meaning your private insurance would be used first.

Where do I find all the information I need to complete the online waiver?

  • We recommend you use the waiver worksheet to gather all your information. Find the information:
    • On your insurance card
    • On your insurer’s website and benefits booklet. Look at the Explanation of Benefits section in particular.
    • By calling your insurer’s customer service line, or your employer’s HR office

Once I’m ready to waive, how do I get started?

  • First, visit the UCSC Insurance website and complete the waiver worksheet. 
  • You will need to submit proof that your private insurance meets the UC requirements. 
  • You will need to complete the online form and upload your health insurance card. 
  • You may be required to provide more information about your health plan.

When is the deadline to waive and what happens if I miss it?

How will I know if my insurance plan has been accepted?    

  • The company that reviews your documents is called Academic HealthPlans or AHP.
  • When you have completed your online waiver and submitted your insurance information, AHP will review your documentation to make sure that your plan meets all the requirements. 
  • If your waiver has been accepted AHP will notify you within 10 business days by email. If your waiver is accepted. If it does, you are approved to opt out or waive your insurance. You will not be charged for UC SHIP.
  • If the charges appeared on your student bill they will quickly be removed. 
  • If your waiver documentation was not accepted, you will have an opportunity to make any corrections. However, you will be enrolled in and charged for UC SHIP. 
  • Remember, you will be billed for UC SHIP annually so don’t forget to submit your waiver every year.
Have more questions? Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on our website. 

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