SHS Orientation: Health Insurance Requirements


Get a closer look at an example of on-campus healthcare costs for a common problem: a sore throat. Enlarge this image/get in PDF

Did you know that your Financial Aid package may cover UC SHIP Insurance costs? See below for more information.

 Section 3: Health Insurance Requirement Basics 

Your health is our top priority. There are three main things to know about the health insurance requirements at UCSC:

  1. For academic success, the UC Regents require that all students have health insurance. Read the University of California Office of the President’s memo on the mandatory insurance plan policy here.
  2. UC provides all students with the University of California Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP).
  3. If you want to use your own insurance plan, you must opt out by waiving (canceling) UC SHIP by completing an online waiver each academic year.

Why do I need health insurance?

If you are sick or injured, it’s tough to succeed in school. A healthcare emergency like an appendectomy can cost thousands of dollars and create severe financial stress. A health insurance plan covers many of those costs.  

What health insurance can I use?

We automatically enroll all students in UC SHIP. UC SHIP is a student-focused full health insurance plan that works worldwide 24/7/365 covering medical, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision and dental care. With UC SHIP, you must use the Student Health Center for your primary and preventive healthcare. It’s a popular option because it’s accessible, comprehensive, convenient and affordable. Alternatively, you can use your own insurance but you must waive UC SHIP by completing an online waiver. Waiving UC SHIP means you intend to see off-campus providers and use your own insurance to pay for that health care. Most students choose UC SHIP, but some students use their private health insurance plan (Kaiser, Aetna, etc.). 

Can I use Financial Aid for healthcare costs?

Your financial aid package might cover UC SHIP. If you were awarded the UC Health Insurance Grant, you can use this money to pay for ... This money can only be used to cover UC SHIP costs, and can't be used for books, meal plans, other types of insurance plans, etc. In 2019-2020, the award covers a maximum of $... If you don't want to lose this money, choose UC SHIP as your insurance plan.

There’s another option: CruzCare!

What’s 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. With CruzCare, visits to the Student Health Center for acute illness or acute injury, including in-house Student Health Center laboratory tests and X-rays, are no charge. For students waiving UC SHIP, CruzCare is the best and most cost effective way to take advantage of the on-campus convenience and college health expertise available at UCSC Student Health Services. It costs $110 per quarter. When compared to the treatment costs of common student issues like a sore throat, CruzCare pays for itself with a single visit to the Student Health Center. CruzCare doesn’t cover visits for chronic illnesses and does not cover emergency care. If a student has a serious or chronic health problem, we expect them to use their private health insurance and off campus providers. UCSC does not charge students a “health fee” for access to services at the Student Health Center, so CruzCare meets that need.

 Learn more about CruzCare here.

How do I get started?

Decide if you want the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP).  If you decide to use UC SHIP, then you have nothing else you need to do. If you don’t want UC SHIP, you must complete an online waiver so you aren’t billed for UC SHIP. 

We’ll talk about how to make this decision and how to complete the waiver in the next section.

I need help with understanding health insurance!

To decide which health insurance option to take, you might need a better basic understanding of health insurance. This video will help you learn the basics.


Section 4: Requirements - Choosing a Health Insurance Option

How do you know which option is right for you? For most students, UC SHIP is the easiest and most affordable option. It’s a full insurance plan covering members 24 hours a day, 365 days per year (even when you’re not on campus). It even includes dental and vision insurance. There’s no sign-up paperwork and no need to leave campus when you’re sick. See these short videos and infographic for more information.

First, get an overview of UC SHIP with this video.

Second, watch a short video about how to use UC SHIP.

Next, learn how to choose among your health insurance options.

Finally, get a closer look at an example of healthcare costs for a common problem: a sore throat.

Get this "Cost of a Student Health Center Visit for a Sore Throat" infographic in PDF

I’ve decided on UC SHIP. What’s my next step?

No action is needed. We’ll automatically enroll you. When the quarter starts, we'll send UC SHIP information to your MyUCSC portal. 

I’d rather use my own insurance. What’s my next step?

Choosing to use your own insurance is more complex. You’ll need to complete: 1) a waiver worksheet, and 2) the online waiver. This is extremely important! Without a completed waiver, you’ll be billed for UC SHIP. The waiver is also where you sign up for CruzCare. To get started:

  1. Watch this video about how to complete the waiver and get CruzCare. 
  2. Read the waiver FAQs here
  3. Complete the waiver worksheet here
  4. Complete and submit the online waiver
After you submit the online waiver, our waiver partner, Academic HealthPlans (AHP), will review your waiver. They’ll let you know if there are any issues with your private health insurance plan. 

Where to find information for the waiver worksheet

When completing the waiver worksheet, you’ll need detailed information about your private insurance plan. To find this information, look at: 
  • Your insurance card
  • Your insurance benefit booklet and website. Look at “Eligibility and Benefits” or “Coverage and Cost” or similarly titled sections. These sections detail what your plan covers. International students might need to look for “Exclusions and Limitations” or similarly titled sections to see what their plan will not cover. 
  • Your insurer’s customer service number. Call them if you have trouble finding answers to the waiver worksheet questions.

Important note about completing the online waiver

The online waiver system is complex. You may want to print the waiver worksheet and fill it out by hand before entering your information into the system. You will need to upload information about your health insurance, such as your insurance card. Click here to watch AHP’s step-by-step video on how to complete the online waiver.

Before choosing a private insurance plan, consider our geographic location.

Your health insurance plan must allow you to see a healthcare provider within 30 miles of UC Santa Cruz. Many international plans and some private plans don’t have good coverage in Santa Cruz. UC SHIP is usually the best option for international students.

Additional information


Next: Services and Activites Orientation


Also in this series:

General Orientation to the Student Health Center

Immunizations and Screenings Orientation