Health Insurance

Having health insurance is a legal requirement and Pacific School of Religion encourages all students to maintain coverage. If you need health insurance, you may compare plans at Covered California.

Co-pay – the additional fee a person pays upfront for each visit to a doctor or for each prescription purchased at the time when service is rendered. Unlike coinsurance where the insured is required to pay a certain percentage of the covered costs, co-pay plans require the insured to pay a specified dollar amount.

Deductible – the cost a person pays for medical care before the insurance company pays. Some policies have a limit on how much a person will pay in deductibles in a year.

HMO – Health Management Organization; PPO – Preferred/Participating Provider Organization; for more info on the differences visit here.

Open Enrollment – the limited time period in which an individual may enroll, cancel or change their health insurance plan. Once the time of open enrollment has passed, the individual must wait until the next open enrollment time in order to enroll, cancel or change their health insurance plan.

Premiums – the amount paid or to be paid by the policyholder for coverage under the contract, usually in periodic installments. Premium costs for students will be assessed each semester.

Contact Shan McSpadden, International Student Support Coordinator, with questions: 510/849-8250 |

Why do I need health insurance while I am here and what are the consequences of having inadequate or no health insurance?

There is very restricted government-funded health care in the United States. Costs for health care in the United States are managed through private companies, many that are national and sometimes even international, but not government-based. The cost for health care is high and increases annually.

Usually an individual does not have the financial ability to pay for these costs, especially diagnostic tests and hospitalization. For example, surgical procedures can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, uninsured hospitalization for just one day can cost several thousand dollars; an ambulance or a CT scan can cost around $2000-$3000; just one i.v. injection can cost around $200.

Sometimes doctors charge several times (about 7 times) as much to an uninsured patient as they do for the insured because health insurance companies are able to negotiate such drastic discounts for their patients. These are all out of pocket costs for the uninsured. Health insurance companies pay the majority or sometimes all of the costs, thereby drastically reducing the cost to the individual, even after paying $200-$300 per month in premiums.

A few years ago an international student at PSR had a health insurance policy from her home country in Asia. However, her policy did not include all hospital expenses. The student became ill enough that she needed to be in the hospital. The cost to her was $40,000! PSR does not want any student to face such a situation. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to have sufficient health insurance coverage.

What kinds of services do qualified comprehensive health plans cover and what kind of fees should I pay attention to?

Comprehensive health plans generally cover all things health related: doctor’s visits for flu, infections and other illnesses; prescribed medicine; urgent care for when you have health emergencies, vaccinations such as for influenza, polio, hepatitis, TB; diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI, CAT scan, and preventative health care. Additionally, life insurance plans are not a substitute for health insurance and vice versa.

Being insured usually requires that someone (you, your employer, your spouse) pay a monthly premium. These premiums can range from $30/month to $1000/month depending on many factors, such as who the company is, how extensive your coverage is, how many people are covered.

Many health insurance policies require the individual to pay some minor costs each time they use health services. One may have to pay a co-payment or a small additional fee paid upfront each time they visit a doctor or when they pick up their prescription medication. In addition, there might deductibles, for example, an individual might be required to pay the first $500 of a charge that is really $2000 for staying overnight at the hospital, but the insurance company will pay for the remaining $1500. Health insurance policies vary and you should carefully analyze any health insurance plan by a variety of factors that can include: the type of services and care you’ll need the most and is covered by your plan, the co-payment and deductible amounts, the monthly premiums, how accessible will the facilities and doctors be to you during your time here, and whether or not you already have a regular doctor or specialists you want to continue to use.

I have an international health insurance policy from my country. Why can’t I just use that? 

As you can see from the above example, often an international health insurance policy issued outside of the United States does not adequately cover the costs of getting the same services you would use in your own country. In many cases, the same services you would receive and would be fully covered in your country could cost you far more than your plan could cover.

In general International Travel insurance which usually has a relatively higher amount of coverage in the case of catastrophic accident, death or sickness does not qualify.


Emotional and Spiritual Wellness: Our Circles of Care

As framed by Ignatian spirituality, our lives are filled with moments of consolation (moments of joy, moments when we feel love, or feel closest to God), and moments of desolation (our “desert moments” when we feel farthest from God, moments when we are lonely, or angry, or feel the least amount of love). As we move in and out of our highs and lows, we at the Office of Community Life want to make sure that you are not alone in your journey.

The Office of Community Life coordinates systems of care within the campus community. The OCL provides networks of support for the PSR community in four ways:

The Campus Care Network provides student-led campus care: to listen, pray, and to support and to respond to crises and everyday concerns in the lives of students and their families at PSR. Campus Care Network members are available around the clock to provide assistance in cases of emergency or crisis. To learn more, contact Ann Jefferson, Director of Community Life and Spiritual Care at 510/849-8257 or

The Pastoral Care Team is comprised by ordained clergy with office hours and location in the PSR campus. The campus pastors have set aside a time from their particular ministries to provide pastoral care for free for the PSR community. Note that the PCT provides “pastoral care,” not “pastoral counseling.” Pastoral care is a broad and inclusive way of pastoral work that is concerned with the support and nurturing of persons and interpersonal relationships. Pastoral counseling is an extended and structured conversation focused on the needs and concerns of the one seeking help (as defined by The Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling).

Rev. KamalHassanPastor Kamal Hassan: “I am a spiritual leader, educator, and community servant. I currently serve as Pastor/Teaching Elder at the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond California, a position I’ve held since 2008. Before this call I spent more than three decades as both a public and private school educator, community organizer and religious worker. I hold an AA degree in Radio Broadcasting from Los Angeles City College, a BA in History from California State University Los Angeles, and a Master of Divinity degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

I’m a founding member of both the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and I’ve worked for social justice and Human Rights locally, nationally, and internationally. I was also a volunteer programmer of a regular liberation focused program on radio station KPFK the Pacifica affiliate in Los Angeles for 10 years. I now serve as a Board member of OneLife Institute for Spirituality and Social Transformation based in Oakland California.

I firmly believe that Spiritual Communities must be critically engaged in the effort to mend the tear in our social fabric that has allowed so many of us to focus on our individual needs and ignore the sufferings of others. To be true to our prophetic calling, we must act locally for justice, freedom, and peace while considering the global implications of our commitments. At the same time we must each pursue our inner and outer journeys of faith. I can be reached by facebook, twitter @kamalhassan1 or by phone (510)691-5204.”

To learn more, contact Ann Jefferson, Director of Community Life and Spiritual Care at 510/849-8257 or

In situations when the Campus Care Netowrk and Pastoral Care Team are not available, the Director of Community Life and Spiritual Care will provide pastoral care, especially during emergency situations. This includes PSR’s after hours (weekdays and weekend). Contact Ann Jefferson, Director of Community Life and Spiritual Care at 510/849-8257 or

The Campus Care Network, Pastoral Care Team, and Assistant Dean of Students will refer the community to self-care resources outside of PSR when needed (although a PSR community member is welcome to access this resource anytime). The lists are not given as endorsements but as a starting place to begin your search for a spiritual director, therapist, or counselor who meets your needs and desires. See links below for more information.