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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 required insurance.  

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. If enrolling in an external plan, please inform the Graduate School by completing the External Health Insurance Reporting Form.

Do all graduate students need to purchase a health insurance plan?
Yes, 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. 

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

What is a Waiver? I need to submit a Waiver? 
The term "waiver" is used by undergraduates. Graduate students who already have insurance from an external source are asked to submit an External Health Insurance Reporting Form 

What is the External Health Insurance Reporting Form?
If you are enrolled in a spousal plan, parental plan, or other plan external to UMD, please complete the External Health Insurance Reporting Form to inform the Graduate School of your compliance to the policy.

When am I able to purchase a Health Insurance Plan?
During Open Enrollment or after a qualifying life event.

  • All graduate students are eligible to purchase the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).  If 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
  • Graduate students who hold a Graduate Assistantship (GA) are eligible to enroll in either SHIP or a state employee plan.  If choosing to enroll in the state plan, enrollment must be done within 60 days from the start of the assistantship.  Please consult with your department’s business office.  Enrollment in the state plan is not automatic.

What is Open Enrollment? 
Open enrollment is the period when you may purchase and enroll in a health insurance plan. SHIP Open Enrollment periods can be found at umdgrad.myahpcare.com/enrollment.  Graduate Assistants who choose the Maryland State Insurance Plan have 60 days from the start of your assistantship to “opt-in” and enroll in a plan.  It is not automatic. Please consult with your department’s business office.

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 for AY 22-23 can be found at umdgrad.myahpcare.com/enrollment.    

How much does the Maryland State Employee Insurance plan cost?
For information about the cost of the Maryland State Employee Health plans, please visit uhr.umd.edu/benefits/.

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 https://health.maryland.gov/mmcp/Pages/home.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 $2,350 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.

I will be a full-time fellowship next semester, so my assistantship will end.  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, 2022  
--If you end your GAship in January, then your health insurance will end January 31, 2023.
--If you end your GAship in May, then your health insurance will end on May 31, 2023 **  

**Important note about Summer: If you have a GAship for the Spring and your GAship is renewed for the upcoming Fall, then you will have continuous coverage over the summer. However, if you are not renewed for the upcoming Fall, then your insurance will terminate on the last day of the month that your GAship ended (as shown above)

I'm on full-time fellowship, what do I need to know about having health insurance?
Full-time fellows are required to have health insurance.  Please see the "health insurance for fellows" webpage for more information.  As a student, you are eligible to purchase SHIP.  Some fellowships provide a reimbursement for the purchase of health insurance.  Please look at the details outlined in your fellowship offer.

I'm on a full-time fellowship, what are my Health Insurance Options?

  • Enroll in SHIP during open enrollment
  • Enroll in an external plan (i.e. spousal plan, parental plan, or SHIP etc..) 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 www.ehealthinsurance.com/.  This site will ask just a few questions and provide you with plan options.  It does not require your email or phone number.  Any site that requires your personal information is not recommended.

What happens if my student status changes from full-time to part-time?
If you are enrolled in a Maryland State Employee Plan and become a part-time student, that will mean that your graduate assistantship will end.  When your GAship ends, your health coverage will end.  

If you are enrolled in SHIP, and become a part-time, your SHIP coverage will continue through the end of the plan period.  And if you graduate, SHIP coverage will continue through the end of the plan period. 

If you are enrolled in an external plan, and become part-time, your coverage will continue through the end of the plan period. 

When you lose insurance, you may be eligible to enroll in a new plan using the Qualifying Life Event process.

I have submitted a petition that may affect my student status.  What happens to my health insurance coverage?

If you are enrolled in a Maryland State Employee Plan, and you are no longer enrolled as full-time student, then your graduate assistantship would end. When your GAship ends, your state health coverage will end.  

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. 

When you lose insurance, you may be eligible to enroll in a new plan using the Qualifying Life Event process.

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.

Contact Information

The Graduate School, University of Maryland

2123 Lee Building
7809 Regents Drive
College Park, MD 20742
301-405-3644
gradschool@umd.edu