Health Insurance

Medical students are strongly encouraged to obtain and maintain health insurance while enrolled at the UWSOM.

  • The School of Medicine cannot require medical students to have health insurance per WA state law; however some non-Washington Foundation partner universities may require students to obtain health insurance while students are enrolled at their institution. Partner universities requiring health insurance will communicate those requirements to students directly.

Finding the right health insurance plan for you and your needs can be complicated. The options available to you will vary based on your personal medical needs, coverage preferences, financial priorities and status, marital/parenthood status, state of residency, and potentially by the curriculum phase. Below is a variety of information to help you get started in researching and selecting the right plan for you and your needs.

 

Special Open Enrollment Update

Due to a federal executive order, a special open enrollment period will run from February 15 – August 15, 2021 for individuals in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, and Montana to obtain health insurance coverage for 2021. Individuals who select coverage by the 15th of the month will begin receiving coverage on the first of the following month. Idaho has extended its special open enrollment period only through April 30, 2021.

To access your particular state’s health insurance marketplace/exchange, please see the information listed for your respective state below.

 

Health Insurance Basics

Students can obtain health insurance through a variety of methods depending on which type of insurance plan they pursue. When selecting a plan, students should: 

  1. Determine when you need to enroll and if you need to use a state or federal exchange
  2. Research the plan options available to you (even if you like your current plan) as there could be new plans that meet your needs better
  3. Compare both the monthly premiums and your estimated yearly costs, including deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximums, to determine what makes the most financial sense to you
  4. Consider how frequently you need/use healthcare
    • Would you prefer to pay more each month so you pay lower fees when you do need healthcare? Or would you prefer to pay less each month because you anticipate not needing much care except in the case of an accident?
  5. Beware of short-term health insurance plans
    • These plans might seem like they come with all the bells and whistles and for a cheaper price, however, they do not cover the required 10 essential health benefits that full health insurance plans cover.
  6. Get free help from the experts! Licensed health insurance navigators are available to assist with exploring your insurance options. 
    • Tip: if you only qualify for Medicaid but would like to review private insurance plans through the exchange – schedule an appointment with a navigator and they can adjust the plans available for you to review.

Once you have health insurance, take a few minutes to learn where you can use it if you get sick or injured. Visit your insurance provider’s website to look for in-network doctors and urgent care centers near your campus/clinical sites. This is very important because visits to an out-of-network doctor or hospital will be much more expensive or potentially not covered at all, depending on your plan.

  • Each Foundations campus offers a student health clinic on campus, which can be a convenient option. Check with your on-campus clinic directly to find out what insurance plans are currently accepted.
  • The Hall Health Center on the UW Seattle campus is available to all clinical students, irrespective of your original Foundations campus. Check with Hall Health directly to find out what insurance plans are currently accepted.
    • Note: when the Hall Health website references “UW Seattle students only,” they are referring to the distinction between the UW Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses, NOT the WWAMI campuses

Whether you take prescription medication regularly or only for treating an acute illness, it is important to ensure you get the medications you need while in medical school and on rotations. Some school health clinics may provide pharmacy services on campus, but a quick online search can help you identify other local pharmacy locations near your location. Be sure to check which pharmacies accept your insurance coverage before having your prescription sent there.

Students who take prescriptions on an on-going basis may want to consider asking their physician for an advance or 90-day supply of your medication or using a mail-order pharmacy, which ships medications to you directly. These options potentially can be time and/or money saving options for students (though mail-order pharmacies require advance notice to ship prescriptions). Contact your physician and insurance provider to learn more about advance or 90-day supply and/or mail order options for your insurance plan.

If you have questions about how to use your coverage at any point, the fastest way to get answers is by contacting your insurance provider.

 

Types of Insurance

Broadly speaking, there are 4 different types of insurance purchased by UWSOM students. Depending on your particular needs and circumstances, not all of the types outlined below will be available to you. The financial aid office can increase student award packages for students to purchase health insurance as needed (see below for more information).

Students who are on a spouse or legal domestic partner’s employer’s insurance plan can remain on that plan.

Students under 26 years old and covered by a parent’s health insurance can remain on their parent’s plan until they turn 26.

  • This may be an impractical option if your parent’s insurance plan does not offer any in-network providers near your SOM Foundations campus or clinical location(s).
  • Upon turning 26, students can apply for public or private insurance through a “special enrollment period.” This enrollment must occur within a short period of time surrounding the qualifying life event. If the student misses the special enrollment period deadline, they must wait until open enrollment (typically November) to purchase a plan for the following calendar year.

Private insurance refers to any health insurance that is offered by a private entity and is not run by the state or federal government. Private insurance typically offers a wider variety of coverage options than public insurance and is largely only available for purchase during open enrollment.

Before purchasing a private insurance plan, students should confirm whether they will have coverage out of their home state. This is especially important during clerkships, as most UWSOM students complete some clerkships outside of their home state.

Depending on the insurance plan, monthly premium costs can be higher for private insurance. The financial aid office can increase student award packages if students want to purchase private health insurance, with the full cost of the premiums added to their financial aid package.

Medicaid is an insurance plan option administered by the individual states. Each state determines eligibility guidelines, what coverage is provided, and the cost to participants. Students can enroll in Medicaid year-round and are not subject to an open enrollment period.

Be aware that Medicaid insurance may not be portable to states other than your home state except in the event of an emergency and, in some cases and with prior plan permission, urgent care.

Student health insurance plans (SHIP) are insurance plans offered by a school or university for their enrolled students. SHIPs typically provide basic insurance coverage only when the student is registered for credits and may be limited across state lines.

The University of Wyoming, University of Alaska, Montana State University, and the University of Idaho offer health insurance plans for their students to purchase. Coverage varies by SHIP and may not be available to students across all 4 years.

Neither the University of Washington or Gonzaga University offer a SHIP for students. (The UW SHIP plan was discontinued due to low enrollment following the expansion of AppleCare)

 

The following types of insurance are largely not available to medical students and/or not appropriate substitutes for full-term health insurance.

Employer-provided health insurance plans are private insurance plans selected, purchased, and managed by an employer for their employees.

MSTP students are eligible for employer-provided insurance due to their positions as research assistants in the graduate school. No other student employee positions within the School of Medicine qualify for employer-provided insurance.

Short-term health insurance plans provide limited health care coverage for a temporary gap in coverage. Plan length will vary by state, however none will exceed 364 days in length. 

Short-term health insurance does not meet the 10 essential health benefit requirements defined by the Affordable Care Act, does not cover pre-existing conditions, and may not provide you with the coverage that you need. However, you might consider short-term health insurance if you are:

  • Waiting for other coverage to begin
  • Waiting for Open Enrollment
  • Waiting to be eligible for Medicare coverage
  • Otherwise without health insurance

Short-term health insurance is available for purchase directly from the insurance company, an insurance agency, or other online insurance marketplaces.

 

Insurance Information By State of Residence

Given the unique nature of medical school and the WWAMI program, we highly recommend that students work with a health insurance navigator to explore their options and select the insurance plan that best fits their needs. Navigators are unbiased experts who are certified to assist individuals looking for health coverage options through the Marketplace/Exchange. Navigators can provide information to students but cannot make recommendations on which plan or tier level to purchase. Their services are available during the annual open enrollment period and are free of charge. Students can find a local area navigator through the federal exchange

Health insurance brokers are also available to assist students in researching and purchasing a health insurance plan. Brokers are able to make specific plan recommendations, however they do charge a fee for their services.

Insurance Options

Coverage through Family:
  • If you have health coverage through your parent’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your parent(s) are employed and you are under the age of 26. 
  • If you have health coverage through your spouse’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your spouse is employed. 
  • Coverage: Variable by your parent/spouse’s chosen plan and tier level
Private Insurance:
Public Insurance: Apple Health
  • Available For: Children, pregnant individuals with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level, and other adults with incomes up to 138% of federal poverty level
  • Enrollment Period: Enrollment can be done any time of the year and is not subject to an annual open enrollment period
  • Coverage: Washington’s Medicaid plan is intended to be utilized in Washington. Coverage outside of Washington may be extremely limited and cover only emergency care – may cover urgent critical care with preapproval
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP): Not available through the University of Washington or Gonzaga University
Proof of Insurance Required by UW or GU: No

 

Resources

Insurance Options

Coverage through Family:
  • If you have health coverage through your parent’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your parent(s) are employed and you are under the age of 26. 
  • If you have health coverage through your spouse’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your spouse is employed. 
  • Coverage: Variable by your parent/spouse’s chosen plan and tier level
Private Insurance:
  • Available for purchase through the federal marketplace/exchange
  • Enrollment Period: Only during open enrollment (November 1-December 15 annually) or if you experience a qualifying life event
  • Coverage: Variable by your chosen plan and tier level
Public Insurance: Medicaid (Very Limited Eligibility)
  • Available For: Children, pregnant individuals with incomes up to 154% of the federal poverty level, elderly, and/or disabled individuals who meet the income eligibility requirements only
  • Enrollment Period: Enrollment can be done any time of the year and is not subject to an annual open enrollment period
  • Coverage: Wyoming’s Medicaid plan is intended to be utilized in Wyoming. Coverage outside of Wyoming may be extremely limited
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP): University of Wyoming
  • Available For: Enrolled Foundations and clinical students
  • Enrollment Period: Every fall and spring semester
  • Coverage: Details are provided by the UWY SHIP provider
Proof of Insurance Required by UWY: No

 

Resources

Insurance Options

Coverage through Family:
  • If you have health coverage through your parent’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your parent(s) are employed and you are under the age of 26. 
  • If you have health coverage through your spouse’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your spouse is employed. 
  • Coverage: Variable by your parent/spouse’s chosen plan and tier level
Private Insurance:
  • Available for purchase through the federal marketplace/exchange
  • Enrollment Period: Only during open enrollment (November 1-December 15 annually) or if you experience a qualifying life event
  • Coverage: Variable by your chosen plan and tier level
Public Insurance: Medicaid (DenaliCare)
  • Available For: Children, pregnant individuals with family income of up to 200% of the federal poverty level, and other adults with family income up to 138% of the federal poverty level
  • Enrollment Period: Enrollment can be done any time of the year and is not subject to an annual open enrollment period
  • Coverage: Alaska’s Medicaid plan is intended to be utilized in Alaska. Coverage outside of Alaska may be extremely limited
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP): University of Alaska
  • Available For: Enrolled Foundations and clinical students
  • Enrollment Period: Every fall, spring, and summer semester. Enrollment can occur during other months, but takes longer to process and obtain coverage.
  • Coverage: Details are provided by the UAA SHIP provider
Proof of Insurance Required by UAA: No

 

Resources

Insurance Options

Coverage through Family:
  • If you have health coverage through your parent’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your parent(s) are employed and you are under the age of 26. 
  • If you have health coverage through your spouse’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your spouse is employed. 
  • Coverage: Variable by your parent/spouse’s chosen plan and tier level
Private Insurance:
  • Available for purchase through the federal marketplace/exchange
  • Enrollment Period: Only during open enrollment (November 1-December 15 annually) or if you experience a qualifying life event
  • Coverage: Variable by your chosen plan and tier level
Public Insurance: Medicaid
  • Available For: Children, pregnant individuals with a household income of up to 157% of the federal poverty level, and other adults with a household income up to 138% of the federal poverty level
  • Enrollment Period: Enrollment can be done any time of the year and is not subject to an annual open enrollment period
  • Coverage: Montana’s Medicaid plan is intended to be utilized in Montana. Coverage outside of Montana may be extremely limited
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP): Montana State University
  • Available For: Enrolled Foundations and clinical students
  • Enrollment Period: Every fall and spring semester
  • Coverage: Details are provided by the MSU SHIP provider
Proof of Insurance Required by MSU: Yes, for Foundations students only

 

Resources

Insurance Options

Coverage through Family:
  • If you have health coverage through your parent’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your parent(s) are employed and you are under the age of 26. 
  • If you have health coverage through your spouse’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your spouse is employed. 
  • Coverage: Variable by your parent/spouse’s chosen plan and tier level
Private Insurance:
Public Insurance: Medicaid
  • Available For: Children, and adults with income under 138% of the federal poverty level
  • Enrollment Period: Enrollment can be done any time of the year and is not subject to an annual open enrollment period
  • Coverage: Idaho’s Medicaid plan is intended to be utilized in Idaho. Coverage outside of Idaho may be extremely limited
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP): Available during Foundations phases through the University of Idaho. Not available during the clinical phases.
  • Available For: Only enrolled Foundations students; NOT available during the clinical phases.
  • Enrollment Period: Every fall and spring semester
  • Coverage: Details are provided by the UID SHIP provider
Proof of Insurance Required by UID: Yes, for Foundations students only

 

Resources

 

Additional Insurance Information By Student Type

When selecting an insurance plan, there may be additional insurance information, resources, or considerations for students who fall into any of the categories listed below:

The following is subject to change based on federal directives, and was last updated in January 2021.

Insurance & Care Options

Coverage through Family:
  • If you have health coverage through your parent’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your parent(s) is employed and you are under the age of 26. 
  • If you have health coverage through your spouse’s employer, you should remain covered so long as your spouse is employed. 
  • Coverage: Variable by your parent/spouse’s chosen plan and tier level
Private Insurance:
  • Available for purchase directly from insurance companies or through an insurance broker
    • Not available for purchase through the state- or federal-run marketplaces/exchanges
  • Enrollment Period: Only during open enrollment (~November 1-December 15 annually) or if you experience a qualifying life event
  • Coverage: Variable by your chosen plan and tier level
Public Insurance: None Available
  • As of open enrollment 2020, no WWAMI states’ Medicaid plans provide health insurance coverage for DACA students
Coverage through Community Health Centers
  • Community health centers may provide affordable healthcare options that can serve as an alternative to health insurance for DACA recipients
  • Prior to seeking services, you should contact the community health center and discuss their options for providing medical assistance to determine if it is appropriate for your medical needs
SHIP: Refer to the state of your respective Foundation site listed above
Proof of Insurance Required: Refer to the state of your respective Foundation site listed above

 

Resources

Information coming shortly

The following is subject to change based on federal directives, and was last updated in January 2021.

American Indian and Alaska Native students may have additional health coverage benefits and protections. Benefit eligibility varies: some benefits are restricted based on federal tribe recognition, other benefits are more widely available.

Most notably, members of federally recognized tribes can enroll in Medicaid and private insurance via the exchange marketplace year-round, and are not restricted to the annual open enrollment period. They can change insurance plans as often as once a month.

 

Resources

In addition to the insurance plans listed above, military veterans may be entitled to health insurance and care through the federal government.

Insurance & Care Options

TRICARE
  • Only available for direct purchase from TRICARE
  • Available for: Uniformed Service members and their families, National Guard/Reserve members and their families, survivors, Medal of Honor recipients and their families, and others registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
  • Enrollment Period: Only during the annual fall TRICARE open season (~mid-November – early December annually) or if you experience a qualifying life event
  • Coverage: variable by your chosen plan and tier level
Veterans Health Care Program
  • Only available for application through the Veterans Health Care Program
  • Available for: broadly speaking, veterans who served in the active military, naval, or air service and did not receive a dishonorable discharge. Veterans should review the VA Health Care Eligibility website for more specifics on their eligibility requirements.
  • Enrollment Period: Veterans can apply any time. They will be assigned to 1 of 8 priority groups to ensure those who need immediate care are signed up quickly.
  • Coverage and services variable by your designated priority group
VA Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA)
  • The VA provides care to veterans through community providers when the VA cannot provide the care needed. Community care is based on specific eligibility requirements, availability of VA care, and the needs and circumstances of individual Veterans.

 

Resources

MSTP students receive health insurance through the Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP). Coverage is provided on a month-by-month basis* for the duration of their eligible job appointment. Information about GAIP is communicated by the UW MSTP program in their acceptance letter and during the MSTP orientation program. 

If a student withdraws from the MSTP program, they would be eligible for the options listed under “Washington” above.

*Coverage start and end dates do not coincide with the academic quarters

Once matriculated, out-of-region students are considered Washington students. They are subsequently eligible for Apple Health (WA state Medicaid) once they establish a Washington state address. During the subsequent annual open enrollment periods, out-of-region students are eligible for the same services listed under “Washington” above.

 

Financial Aid, Health Insurance, & Healthcare Costs

Financial aid is available to cover health insurance costs for medical students. It may also be available to cover non-elective healthcare costs that are medically necessary in order for the student to complete the medical school program and that are otherwise not covered by health insurance (e.g. co-pays). Financial aid cannot be used to cover health insurance or healthcare costs for partners, children, or other dependent family members. Any medical bills that are accrued during a different fiscal year or while not enrolled cannot be covered by financial aid.

In order to add these costs to their financial aid package, students must complete the following within the same fiscal year (July – June):

  • Be enrolled when the bill for the medical care is issued
    • The bill must include the student’s name, date of the appointment, description or line item, and the total owed after insurance
  • Submit a revision request form (“Revision Request for Additional Expenses” listed under “Revision Forms“), along with any receipts, doctor notes, or other relevant documentation
  • Notify the SOM financial aid office that documentation has been submitted

If a student has not yet taken out all of their aid, they should talk to a SOM financial aid counselor before submitting a revision request form.

Students who accrue medical bills and expenses when not enrolled may also contact a SOM financial aid counselor in order to strategize if and how financial aid may be able to assist.

Uninsured?

If you do not have health insurance, it is even more important for you to learn where you can access healthcare if you get sick or injured and hot to obtain any prescription medications that you might need:

  • For primary care, you can visit a community health center
  • Some urgent care providers, like ZoomCare, offer self-pay discounts for uninsured patients
  • You can obtain a prescription drug discount card to save money on prescription medications. Prescription drug discount cards often cannot be combined with insurance, Medicaid benefits, or used to cover out-of-pocket copayments.
  • If you are in Seattle for coursework or clerkships, you have access to some (limited) free services at Hall Health Center.

Additional Insurance Resources