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 30 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 UMD Health Center website 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.)  

Am I eligible for a waiver?
There is no waiver process for graduate students. (The waiver process seen on the AHP Carefirst website is used by undergraduate students only)

All full-time graduate students enrolled in College Park are required to have health insurance. Students can choose to enroll in the State Employee Insurance Plan (graduate assistants only), SHIP, or an external plan.  If enrolling in an external plan, the Graduate School will provide a "Health  Insurance Reporting Form" for you to complete.  This form will be available over the summer. 

How do I inform the Graduate School about my external health insurance coverage?
The reporting process will start during Summer 2020 for the 20-21 academic year. ​ We will ask students who are enrolling in an external plan to complete a Health Insurance Reporting Form. This form will be made available online at https://gradschool.umd.edu/health-insurance, and it will be emailed to students who are not covered by the state plan or by SHIP.  The form will be short and it will ask students to provide information that will include the insurance carrier name and coverage period.

The Health Insurance Reporting Form will be required each year that you are on an external plan and the reporting time frame will always be over the summer and lead into September.

When do I purchase a health insurance plan?
Students holding a graduate assistantship are eligible to choose a Maryland State Employee Health Insurance plan.  Eligible students have 30 days from the start of their assistantship to enroll in one of those plans.  Please consult with your department’s business office.

Students who choose to enroll SHIP must enroll in a plan during Open Enrollment. Open enrollment dates and information about benefits can be found on the UMD Health Center website.

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 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

How much does SHIP cost?
The current annual cost of the SHIP is $1,298 for a student, $2,596 for a student and spouse or student & children, and $3,894 for student, spouse, and children.  The coverage period is August 1 - July 31 (a full year).  View the AY 19-20 Rate Chart for Graduate Students here.  These rates are valid through July 31, 2020. 

Please see this comparison sheet which provides a high-level summary of SHIP and a comparable State Employee plan.

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.

Please see this comparison sheet which provides a high-level summary of SHIP and a comparable State Employee 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://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 $1298 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 https://financialaid.umd.edu/resources-policies/money-matters.

What is Open Enrollment? 

If you choose to purchase SHIP, 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 30 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.

When is Open Enrollment for SHIP?
SHIP Open Enrollment for Spring 2020 and Summer 2020:  12/2/2019 – 2/15/2020. 
SHIP Open Enrollment for Summer 2020:  5/15/2020 – 6/30/2020.
SHIP Open Enrollment for Next Academic Year’s Annual Plan (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021):  8/1/2020 -9/15/2020.

Missing these important dates means you will have to wait until the next Open Enrollment period to purchase a SHIP plan.  

Graduate Assistants who enroll in the Maryland State Employee Insurance, you must enroll within 30 days of your assistantship start date. Please consult with your department's business office.

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.

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 as a graduate assistant, your health coverage will end when your assistantship ends.  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 (through July 31, 2020).

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 as a graduate assistant, your health coverage will end when your assistantship ends.  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 (through July 31, 2020).

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 will need to have health insurance.  Please see the "health insurance for fellows" webpage for more information.

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.