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Health Insurance FAQ

Health Insurance FAQs

Why do graduate students need to have a health insurance plan?
Health insurance and health care are important for maintaining physical and mental well-being while in graduate school.  We began discussing the health insurance requirement early last fall semester.  The Graduate School was concerned about the health and well-being of graduate students long before that, but the Affordable Care Act insurance mandate meant that students were already required to be insured. 

All of our Big Ten peers require international students to have health insurance; five require it of all international and domestic students.

Your health and wellness are important to your overall quality of life, and to your academic and professional success. Unexpected healthcare expenses can also be disruptive to your academic progress. Enrollment in an insurance plan ensures that you have access to health care.  

How do I purchase a health insurance plan at UMD?
Students holding a graduate assistantship can choose to 1) enroll in a Maryland State Employee Health Insurance Plan, included in the benefits for the assistantship 2) purchase the University’s Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), or 3) purchase an external plan. 

Students not holding a graduate assistantship can choose to 1) purchase the University’s Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or 2) purchase an external plan.

If you are a graduate assistant and choose to enroll in the Maryland State Employee plan, you have 60 days from the start of your graduate assistantship to enroll in the state plan. Please consult with your department’s business office for details.

If you choose to purchase SHIP, visit the graduate student AHP Website (umdgrad.myahpcare.com/) to begin the enrollment process. 

If you choose to purchase an external plan, you may visit insurance company websites directly, or through a portal such as E-HealthInsurance.com. (See Resource list.)  If enrolling in an external plan, please inform the Graduate School by completing the External Health Insurance Reporting Form on the AHP website at umdgrad.myahpcare.com/alreadyhaveinsurance

Do I need to submit a Waiver? 
The term "waiver" is used by undergraduates. Graduate students are asked to submit an External Health Insurance Reporting Form.  If enrolling in an external plan, please inform the Graduate School by completing the External Health Insurance Reporting Form on the AHP website at umdgrad.myahpcare.com/alreadyhaveinsurance.  

Due to the pandemic, I will be enrolled exclusively in online courses. Am I exempt from this policy? 
Yes, if you are exclusively online, you are temporarily exempt from this health insurance policy.  Once you arrive on campus to begin coursework or use campus facilities, your exemption will expire.   

Where do I find the External Health Insurance Reporting Form?
This form is available on the Academic HealthPlans website at umdgrad.myahpcare.com/alreadyhaveinsurance.  The Health Insurance Reporting Form is required each year that you are on an external insurance plan. The reporting time will always be over the summer and lead into September.

**Please note, you will see the term "waiver" used while on the AHP website because we share this site with undergraduate students. If enrolling in an external plan, Undergraduate Students must submit a waiver, and Graduate Students must the External Health Insurance Reporting Form.

When do I purchase a Health Insurance Plan?
During Open Enrollment or after a qualifying life event.
For Graduate Assistants who choose to enroll in a state employee plan, open Enrollment is the 60 days from the start of their assistantship.  Please consult with your department’s business office.  GA's can opt to enroll in the state plan OR can enroll in a SHIP.

For students who are choosing to enroll in a SHIP, enrollment must be during the SHIP open enrollment. Open enrollment dates can be found on the Academic HealthPlans website umdgrad.myahpcare.com/enrollment.

What is Open Enrollment? 
Open enrollment is the period when you may purchase and enroll in a health insurance plan. If you choose to purchase a Maryland State Insurance Plan, you have 60 days from the start of your assistantship to “opt-in” and enroll in a plan.  It is not automatic. Graduate Assistants who choose this option should consult with your department’s business office. If you choose to purchase a SHIP, there are 3 open enrollment periods: 

Fall:   July 15, 2020 - September 15, 2020
Spring:  January 1, 2021 - February 15, 2021
Summer:  May 15, 2021 - June 30, 2021

To be eligible to enroll, graduate students must be enrolled for at least one credit at the time of Open Enrollment.

What happens if I miss Open Enrollment?
If you miss Open Enrollment, you may still qualify to purchase a plan if you experience a Qualifying Event—aging off a parent’s plan, marriage, divorce, and birth or adoption of a child. Supporting documentation is required for these events.

Most private (external) carriers will allow you to purchase an insurance plan at any time. Premium and deductible costs vary depending on the plan.  E-HealthInsurance.com is a portal for purchasing short-term insurance plans external to the university. 

How much does a SHIP cost?
The SHIP premium costs for AY 20-21 can be found at umdgrad.myahpcare.com/cost.  

How much does the Maryland State Employee Insurance plan cost?
For information about the cost of the Maryland State Employee Health plans, please visit the current year’s rate sheet.  Benefit information can be found on the University Human Resources website.

Is there an easy way to compare the state plan with a SHIP?
Please see this AY 19-20 comparison sheet which provides a high-level summary of SHIP and a comparable State Employee plan (from last year)

I cannot afford a plan. Will the university provide financial support to help students afford health insurance?
There is no funding available to assist students with the purchase of health insurance.  If extra financial support is needed to cover this cost, students can request a reevaluation of the cost of attendance to increase their financial aid package.  More information about this can be found on the Bursar's website.  Students can also explore the possibility of applying for Medicaid from the Maryland Department of Health.  To see if you are eligible for Medicaid, please go to mmcp.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Apply%20for%20Medicaid.aspx.  

The decision to have a policy that requires graduate students to have health insurance comes only after careful deliberation and with the support of students and faculty across campus.  Too many times, we hear stories of uninsured students who wind up with unexpected expenses that arise from being sick or injured. The university-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) is a great option and is reasonably priced.  It not only is comparable to other premium plans on the market, but it is priced at only $1,555 for an individual annual plan. 

Financial planning that includes health insurance is an important measure for everyone to undertake and will help to protect the health and well being of all students.  For guidance on financial planning matters, please visit the Bursar's Money Matters website at financialaid.umd.edu/resources-policies/money-matters.

Do all graduate students need to purchase a health insurance plan?
Yes, with some exceptions. All full-time students—those enrolled in at least 48 units for the semester or 36 units for a 12-week term—must have health insurance coverage. Part-time students, non-degree-seeking students, students enrolled in certificate programs, exclusively online programs, and/or programs at the Shady Grove campus are eligible and encouraged but not required to have health insurance, unless the student's immigration status requires insurance. Also, if you are not on campus due to COVID-19, you are exempt from the policy.

Can a part-time graduate student enroll in SHIP?
Yes.  Graduate students registered for 1 or more credits are eligible to purchase SHIP.

What happens if my enrollment status changes from full-time to part-time?
If you are enrolled in a Maryland State Employee Plan and change to part time, that will mean that your graduate assistantship will end.  When you GAship ends, your health coverage will end.  This would be considered a Qualifying Event and would make you eligible to purchase SHIP or an external plan at that time. 

If you are enrolled in SHIP, and change to part time, your SHIP coverage will continue through the end of the plan period (even if you graduate).

If you are enrolled in an external plan, your coverage will continue through the end of the plan period. 

I have submitted a petition that may affect my enrollment status.  What happens to my health insurance coverage?
If you are enrolled in a Maryland State Employee Plan, and your enrollment status changes from full time, then your graduate assistantship would end. When your GAship ends, your health coverage will end.  This would be considered a Qualifying Event and would make you eligible to purchase SHIP at that time. 

If you are enrolled in SHIP, your coverage will continue through the end of the plan period. The change in your student status will not terminate your SHIP.

If you are enrolled in an external plan, your coverage would continue through the end of the plan period. 

I'm on full-time fellowship, what do I need to know about having health insurance?
Full-time fellows are also full-time enrolled students, so they must also have a health insurance plan to be in compliance with the graduate school policy.  Please see the "health insurance for fellows" webpage for more information.  As a student, you are would be eligible to purchase SHIP.  Some fellowships provide a reimbursement for the purchase of health insurance.  Please look at the details outline in your fellowship offer.

I will be a Full-Time Fellow next semester so I will be off of Payroll.  What happens to my GA health insurance?

If you have health benefits through their GAship, your health benefits will end when your assistantship ends.  

--If you end your GAship in December, your health insurance will end on Dec 31, 2020  
--If you end your GAship in January, then your health insurance will end January 31, 2021.
--If you end your GAship in May, then your health insurance will end on May 31. **  

**Important: If you end your GAship in May, and will be off of payroll for the Fall, then your summer health insurance coverage will be affected.

Health Insurance Options for Fellows:

  • Enroll in SHIP during open enrollment. To be eligible for SHIP, you need to be registered for at least one credit.
  • Enroll in a plan (i.e. spousal plan, SHIP) using the Qualifying Event process (ending your job makes you eligible for a Qualifying Event)
  • Enroll in a short term plan.  A resource to find a short term plan is https://www.ehealthinsurance.com/.  This site will ask just a few questions and provide you with plan options.  It does not require your name or email or phone number.  Any site that requires your personal information is not recommended.

I’m an international student, what are the health insurance requirements for my visa?

Please consult the International Student and Scholar Services website for more information about your visa requirements.