Office of Student Life

Student Health Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do I have to do to make sure I have my health insurance for the full policy year?

  1. Select the plan via My Buckeye Link in the first term you are enrolled each academic year, and do so before the Select/Waive deadline. 
  2. Be enrolled in eligible courses in both autumn and spring, and register for those courses before the coverage period start dates if at all possible (see dates here). With few exceptions, you have to be enrolled in courses that meet credit hour and course eligibility if you wish to have student health insurance. 
  3. Look at your Statement of Account and verify that the student health insurance fee appears on the itemized list of fees. If it doesn't appear, you do not have active coverage. 
  4. Pay your student health insurance fee. 

If I select student health insurance for autumn term, I can waive out of it for spring term, right?

  • No. You cannot waive the SHI Benefits Plan in spring if you had it in autumn. A student health insurance selection is an annual selection, not a term-by-term selection. This means that once you select student health insurance, your coverage stays in place for the entire policy year which covers all academic terms. This is enforced even for students who purchase other coverage during the policy year. 
  • If you experience a Qualifying Event during the policy year, you can submit a request to drop your student health insurance. However, if approved, the drop will go into effect the first day of the subsequent coverage period. So if, for example, you get a new job in February that offers you health insurance, you cannot drop our plan until the subsequent August. 

Who is required to have health insurance? 

  • Domestic students who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program and are attending any campus of The Ohio State University are subject to the requirement. Half-time is defined by eligible credit hours: 6 for undergraduate students, 4 for graduate and professional students, and 3 for post-candidacy students. For credit hour eligibility exceptions and exclusions, visit our Eligibility page. 
  • All international students enrolled in courses at The Ohio State University are required to enroll in the Student Health Insurance Benefits Plan ("SHI Benefits Plan"). However, international students enrolled exclusively in Distance Learning classes will not be enrolled in the SHI Benefits Plan. Students may seek a waiver if they meet certain requirements.

Who is eligible to purchase the SHI Benefits Plan? 

  • Students who are required to have health insurance. See the answer above for details and clarification. Central Ohio Technical College students are not eligible to purchase the SHI Benefits Plan. 

If I need to take a leave of absence from the university for Medical Reasons, can I keep my health insurance if I'm not enrolled in classes?

  • If you were enrolled in the SHI Benefits Plan for the term prior to your leave, yes, you have the option of keeping it. Please contact our office for additional information and requirements related to extended coverage due to a Leave of Absence. 

Re: Qualifying Events

What is a qualifying event?

  • A "Qualifying Event" is an identified event that allows a 31-day window for a student to request a change to their SHI Benefits Plan selection or waiver.  Visit our Qualifying Events for more information. Please note that the loss of a university subsidy, a change in personal financial circumstance, or an employer Open Enrollment period are not qualifying events for our plans.

What if I lose my health insurance coverage (for example, through my employer/parents/spouse)?

I waived coverage for spring term, but it's summer now and I'm losing the health insurance I had through my employer/parents/spouse. Can I enroll in the SHI Benefits Plan for an effective summer date?

Can I drop the SHI Benefits Plan in the middle of the year?

  • You can submit a request to drop the plan if you experience a Qualifying Event and submit a Qualifying Event Form within 31 days of that, but a termination or "drop" of coverage will not go into effect immediately. Instead, and if approved, the termination will be effective the first day of the following term and there will be no pro-rated refund of premium for the term in which you submitted your request. 

Re: Dependent Eligibility

Can I add my parents as dependents onto my plan?

  • Parents or siblings are not eligible for enrollment as a dependent in the SHI Benefits Plan. Visit the Eligibility page for more information.

Is my spouse eligible for coverage?

  • Yes, a legal spouse is eligible for coverage. Visit the Eligibility page for more information.

Are my children eligible for coverage?

  • Yes, unmarried children under age 26 may be eligible. The term "children" includes a student's biological children, stepchildren, foster children, adopted children from the date of placement in the student's home and who depend on the student for their support; children for whom the student has been granted legal custody; and children for whom the student has legal obligation to provide coverage due to a court order.  Visit the Eligibility page for more information.

Re: Selecting and paying for the SHI Benefits Plan

How do I enroll in the SHI Benefits Plan?

  • Students select the SHI Benefits Plan in their online My Buckeye Link every year by the published deadline of autumn term (or the first term of enrollment during that policy year). Students who do not make a selection before the deadline each year will default to the SHI Benefits Plan selection.

What are the deadlines for selecting?

How much does the coverage cost?

  • Visit our Rates, Dates, and Deadlines page. Note that the university processes your health insurance cost as a term fee, rather than a monthly payment like many employer-sponsored or marketplace plans. This is designed to allow students to use aid to pay for their coverage. 

How do I pay for it?

  • Your student health insurance premium appears on your Statement of Account, and you pay for it just as you do your other school fees. Ohio State's Tuition Option Payment Plan (TOPP) allows students and their families to divide the cost of tuition, housing, and fees into installment payments for autumn and spring semesters.

Can I use my federal Title aid to pay for the SHI fee? 

  • If you wish to have your Title IV federal financial aid applied to the Student Health Insurance fee, Ohio State requires that you grant permission in your My Buckeye Link. Detailed instructions and information available here. Title IV aid includes Pell Grants, Direct Student Loans, Perkins Loans and TEACH and SEOG grants.

How do I enroll my dependents or change dependent coverage selections?

  • To enroll an eligible dependent, the student must elect coverage online through their My Buckeye Link by the posted deadline unless the student experiences a Qualifying Event.

I did not select the SHI Benefits Plan so why did the fee post to my account statement?

  • Students who meet the eligibility requirements are automatically enrolled in the SHI Benefits Plan at the start of their first enrollment term each academic year. You have the opportunity to confirm this selection or choose to waive the SHI Benefits Plan before the published Select/Waive deadline. If you successfully complete a waiver, the fee will come off your account within 1-3 business days. 

Re: Waiving the SHI Benefits Plan

What should I think about before I waive? 

  • Health insurance exists to protect us from major medical costs, including those that are unexpected and unplanned. Even when you are well, it is important that you be aware of your personal liability should you become ill or injured. Visit our Guidelines for Adequate Coverage when selecting the best plan for your own (or your family’s) financial and health circumstances. To learn more about your university options, read about the SHI Benefits Plan and WilceCare Supplement

How do I waive?

  • If you're an eligible domestic student, you submit a waiver through your My Buckeye Link prior to the published Select/Waive deadline. A waiver requires that you submit proof of adequate, annual health insurance. 
  • International Students who qualify for an exemption must submit a Petition to Waive

What are the deadlines to waive coverage?

  • There is only one deadline to waive coverage each academic year, and that is prior to your first academic term of each academic year. Specific select/waive deadlines will be published each year and term. Visit our Rates, Dates, and Deadlines page for more information. 

What if I already have health insurance or am covered under my parent's plan?

  • If it's health insurance that meets our requirements and will be effective for the academic year, then you can waive the SHI Benefits Plan in your eligible term of each academic year. 

Do I have to submit a separate waiver every semester?

  • No, the waiver you submit for the first term of an academic year will remain in effect for that full policy year. If you'd like to newly select coverage for a subsequent term, you may do so as long as you submit your selection prior to the published deadline. If your other health insurance changes during the year, make sure you contact us with your updated health insurance information to avoid a problematic audit. 

I submitted a waiver but now I no longer have other insurance. How can I get covered under the SHI Benefits Plan?

I submitted a waiver, but the fee for Student Health Insurance appears on my fee statement.

  • When your waiver is complete and you receive your confirmation screen, the fee will not update immediately. You need to allow 1-3 business days. For example, if you complete your waiver on Friday, the correct fee may not post until Tuesday. We apologize for the system processing times and appreciate your patience. 

What is the deadline for submitting a waiver?

  • It is the published deadline of your initial term of enrollment each academic year. Visit our Rates, Dates, and Deadlines page for more information.

What kind of information must be supplied to prove my other coverage meets requirements?

  • It's the information you would find on your ID card including: insurance carrier/company name, address and telephone; the group number and/or ID number; and the subscriber's name and telephone ("subscriber" means the person who is initially eligible for and issued the policy).

What options do I have if my waiver is denied?

  • When a waiver is denied, a student is automatically enrolled in the SHI Benefits Plan. Once you are enrolled in the SHI Benefits Plan, you must remain enrolled until the academic year is completed. If you obtain other health insurance that will be in compliance with the university's requirements, your next opportunity to waive will be for your first term of enrollment in the next academic year.

Re: Graduation

I am graduating in in May. Why do I have to buy health insurance that goes all the way through the middle of August?

  • Feedback from students indicated a need for continuous coverage through the summer months. What you pay for coverage each term is the annual (12 months) cost of the plan divided into two equal parts. When you enrolled for spring, you paid for 6 months of coverage (through summer). 
  • For other graduation questions, get answers on our Graduating Students page.

Re: WilceCare

What is WilceCare?

  • WilceCare is not health insurance. Instead, it's a pre-paid option designed to supplement the health insurance that you already have so that you don't experience any convenience or cost barriers to getting care while you are on Columbus campus.
  • WilceCare is designed to help students who have annual health insurance plans that only provide regional coverage for basic care services, or that provide coverage subject to high deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance, or that have limited access to in network providers.
  • It's pre-paid outpatient medical care and prescription drugs provided exclusively at the Wilce Student Health Center.

Who is eligible for WilceCare?

  • Any domestic student who has met the credit hour requirements and has documented other adequate, annual health insurance coverage.

What does WilceCare cover?

  • WilceCare provides for outpatient primary care benefits for students seen at the Wilce Student Health Center and prescription drugs dispensed there. WilceCare pays for routine x-rays, laboratory tests, physical therapy, minor office procedures, medical supplies when prescribed and in stock, office visits for the treatment of illness or injury, and prescriptions. Visit our WilceCare page and click on the policy year details menu bar for more information.

How do I enroll in WilceCare?

  • To enroll, the student must Select WilceCare online through their My Buckeye Link. Because a WilceCare purchase requires the completion of a Waiver, you must provide evidence of active, adequate health insurance at the time of selection. 

Can I enroll in WilceCare at any time? 

  • You can enroll during the Select/Waive periods for autumn, spring/summer, or summer only terms (for students new to Ohio State) before the published deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you cannot add WilceCare until the following term. Regardless of the term you purchase WilceCare, the cost is the same. If you purchase WilceCare for summer term only, your cost is the same. 

How do I pay for WilceCare?

  • The fee appears on your Statement of Account just as it does for other school fees.

Does WilceCare cover preventive services? 

  • No, it only covers medical care for illness and injury.

How do I file my own insurance claim once WilceCare has paid?

  • If you would like a claim form to file with your primary insurance, they can be obtained at the Wilce Student Health Center Cashier counter located on the first floor in the Pharmacy, or at the Patient Accounts/Billing desk located on the third floor.

Re: Membership in the SHI Benefits Plan

When does my coverage begin and end?

  • If you select autumn coverage, it begins seven days prior to the beginning of the academic term. Spring/summer coverage begins January 1. Visit our Rates, Dates, and Deadlines page for specific information. 

How long is the coverage effective?

  • For the entire plan year as long as student remains eligible (meets the minimum credit hour requirement). 

Will I receive an ID card and list of benefits?

  • No.  Our partners, UHCSR and Delta Dental no longer mail ID cards to your address.  You can print a copy of your ID card online.  See our Member ID page for instructions.
  • Members using assistive technologies that experience accessibility issues may contact OSU Student Health Insurance at 614-688-7979 Monday through Friday during normal business hours for assistance in obtaining a temporary and permanent Member ID card. 

  • A Summary Plan Description, which are the full details of your plan, as well as a highlights booklet are available on our website at SHI Benefits Plan.  

What am I supposed to do with my ID card? 

  • Carry it with you at all times or have it electronically accessible. Your card identifies to providers that you (and your dependents) have coverage. It's kind of like your ticket to care when you need it to be covered. It includes a unique member identification number and a toll-free phone number to contact member services.

Who is United Healthcare StudentResources (UHCSR) and HealthSmart Benefit Solutions?

  • UHCSR and HealthSmart are our partners for the SHI Benefits Plan. UHCSR underwrites portions of our plan and keeps our plan details in correct order. HealthSmart administers the medical and prescription benefits, meaning they make sure your claims (bills for care you receive) are processed correctly and that you are not charged too much or too little. Keep an eye out in your snail mail for information from each of these companies. 

Is mental health treatment covered by the SHI Benefits Plan?

  • Yes.

Do I have dental benefits?

  • Yes, under the SHI Benefits Plan. The insurance vendor is Delta Dental of Ohio.

Will I get a Delta Dental ID card?

  • No, but on Delta Dental's website, you can create a new user Consumer Toolkit account in which you can print an ID card. At the Dental Clinic and Wilce Student Health Center, you can just provide your student number. 

Do I have vision benefits?

  • Yes. UHCSR administers the vision benefit. 

Re: Getting care

If I don’t have the SHI Benefits Pan or WilceCare, can I be seen at the Wilce Student Health Center?

  • Yes. The only requirement to be seen at the Wilce Student Health Center is that you are an enrolled student at Ohio State. Additionally, students can also be seen for one subsequent semester. As a student, it is your responsibility to understand your insurance benefits and to fulfill your financial liability for services received at the Wilce Student Health Center: visit their website or contact them for additional insurance questions and or to confirm current fees.
  • The Wilce Student Health Center participates with several major insurance carriers. Unfortunately, Wilce Student Health Center cannot see students using coverage under Medicaid. Students covered under Medicaid should contact their health insurance company to locate nearby Medicaid providers

Where can I find a list of providers covered under the SHI Benefits Plan?

I have the WilceCare Supplement. Where can I find a list of providers?

  • WilceCare is payment exclusively for services rendered at the Wilce Student Health Center on the Columbus campus. It is not a health insurance plan, does not have a provider network, and is not usable at any other location.

Will the SHI Benefits Plan cover me when I'm out of state and/or out of the country?

  • The SHI Benefits Plan will pay for covered services received abroad at the Tier 2 level. You will need to pay in full first and then request reimbursement within 90 days of the day of service. To request reimbursement, submit a bill and proof of your payment to the HealthSmart Benefit Solutions address on the front of your member ID card. Valid proofs of payment include: a copy of front and back of a cancelled check; copy of credit card statement showing a charge for payment for services billed; verification of cash payments detailed on providers letterhead signed and faxed by provider to the address on your card.
  • The SHI Benefits Plan also includes additional global services through UHC Global. If you have an emergency while traveling at least 100 miles from your primary residence or when traveling in a foreign country, call the UnitedHealthcare Global phone number located on the back of your health insurance ID card immediately to coordinate your care. UnitedHealthcare Global can provide medical and travel assistance services. Note that if you are an international student, it does not apply in your home country.  

What is a provider?

  • A provider is where/who you get covered services from, such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, licensed therapist, hospital, or facility.

What is a network? Why is it important to use a network provider?

  • A network provider is doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers who have contracted to provide specific medical care at negotiated prices. Using a network provider lowers your out-of-pocket costs.

What is the difference between going to the doctor's office, urgent care, the emergency room, and being treated as an out-patient?

  • Care from a doctor's office is usually scheduled in advance. "Office visits" are typically for normal illness or for preventing illness or routine care. This can include a physical check-up or visits for a sore throat, immunizations, cough, stomachache, or sprained ankle. 
  • Urgent care is for when you need prompt attention but don't have life-threatening illness or injury. For example: injuries, fever that doesn’t go away, sudden pain, broken bones. Urgent Care locations stay open after business hours and on weekends. Urgent care centers cannot admit you for longer-term care. They do not have operating rooms. 
  • Emergency room is for life-threatening or very bad illness or injury. For example: Heart attacks, serious car accidents, bad burns, bad broken bones (bones that break the skin), very high fever, convulsions, or stroke symptoms. An emergency room ("ER") is connected to a hospital. If you have a life-threatening illness or injury, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. For additional information about when and where to seek care, visit Student Health Services's Emergencies information page.
  • "Out-patient" identifies care for which you are not admitted into a facility such as a hospital.
  • The Find a Provider page for the SHI Benefits Plan allows you to search by these types of service. 

Can I see the physician of my choice under the SHI Benefits Plan?

  • Yes, but you may have less out-of-pocket costs if you choose a provider from the OSU Health Plan Network inside Franklin County and the United Healthcare network outside of Franklin County. Visit our Find a Provider page for search and verification tools. 

Re: Health Insurance terms and use

Visit our terminology translator at our health insurance literacy page here!

What is a "premium"?

  • The money you pay to keep your health insurance for specific time periods. It's often collected monthly or semi-annually. Members of the SHI Benefits Plan pay a semi-annual fee. 

What is "coverage"?

  • A summary word for what you can expect from your health insurance plan when you have paid your premiums and have that plan. It refers to the fact that your health insurance will pay for covered services as detailed in their Summary Plan Description. 

What is "covered services"? 

  • Identifies what your health plan will pay for as legally documented in your Summary Plan Description. Plans are not necessarily required to cover every service you may need or desire.

What is a "deductible?"

  • The amount of Covered Medical Expenses that a covered person pays during the policy year before health insurance pays.

What is a "co-pay"?

  • A specified dollar amount an insured person must pay for specified charges at the time of service. The co-pay is separate from and not part of the deductible or coinsurance.

What is "co-insurance"?

  • The percentage share of what you pay for a covered service. It's often expressed as a ratio. For example, "80/20" means that health insurance pays 80% of the cost and you are billed for 20% of the cost. 

What is an "Explanation of Benefits" ("EOB")?

  • An EOB is a written explanation of how the payment amount for a benefit you utilized is being processed and calculated for payment. It also may explain the claims appeal process and provide other information or ask you to provide other information. It is never a bill. Do not submit payment in response to an EOB. 

What is an insurance "claim," and how does the claims process work?

  • An insurance claim is a request to an insurance company that payment be processed for services utilized by a member. Providers generally submit claims. Each claim is processed based on the policies of the recipient's plan or coverage, and then the health insurance makes payment to the provider.

Re: International Students

Am I required to have health insurance in order to maintain my immigration status? Are my dependents?

  • J-1 students and J-2 dependents are required to have health insurance to maintain legal immigration status in the US.
  • F-1 students are not required to have health insurance to maintain immigration status, but are required to have health insurance to study at Ohio State.
  • F-2 dependents are not required to have health insurance to maintain status, but you are strongly encouraged to purchase insurance for any F-2 dependents on your record.

Can I remove my dependents from my plan if they return to our home country in the middle of the semester? 

  • No. If the Qualifying Event form to terminate coverage is submitted in accordance with the Plan and approved, the termination will be effective the first day of the following term and there will be no pro-rata refund of premium (during the term of the qualifying event).

I am a new student and will arrive on campus three weeks before classes start. How can I make sure I am covered before the semester begins?

  • Complete the "Early Arrival Coverage" form for Domestic or International student form if you meet one of these requirements:
  • International, graduate or professional student new to Ohio State
  • Undergraduate students required to arrive early by an Ohio State program
  • Private insurance expired between specific early arrival coverage dates (usually 1 month before school term).
  • Please visit "Important Forms" tab and select the appropriate policy year.

Do I have coverage in my home country when I return home during the breaks between terms?

  • The SHI Benefits Plan will pay for covered services in your home country at the Tier 2 level. You will need to pay in full and then request reimbursement within 90 days of the day of service. To request reimbursement, submit a bill and proof of your payment to the HealthSmart Benefit Solutions address on the front of your member ID card. Valid proofs of payment include: a copy of front and back of a cancelled check; copy of credit card statement showing a charge for payment for services billed; verification of cash payments detailed on providers letterhead signed and faxed by provider to the address on your card. Please note that the travel assistance through UnitedHealthcare Global does not apply in your home country.