GTU Health Insurance Program for Students (HIPS)
Students taking 9.0 credits or more are required (and students taking 3.0 credits or more are eligible but not required) to submit to Kaiser verification of health insurance coverage to register at PSR. The Graduate Theological Union administers health insurance coverage through Kaiser Permanente (KP) for students at Pacific School of Religion and for the rest of the consortium. Information including premium costs for the plan are available on the GTU Health Insurance page.
All students taking 9.0 units or more will either submit a Health Insurance Waiver form or enroll online in GTU HIPS with KP online through the KP website. All students enrolled in GTU HIPS with Kaiser, including continuing students, must enroll online every Fall in order to keep their coverage active. Student enrolled in GTU HIPS with Kaiser are billed the health insurance premium through the school billing system, which can be paid through WebAdvisor. The links for enrolling in Kaiser and waiving out from Kaiser are located below and will be re-opened at the next HIPS open enrollment period starting General Registration.
OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD
Fall Semester: August 22 to September 16.
Spring Semester: January 16 to February 10.
EFFECTIVE DATES OF COVERAGE
Fall Semester: September 1 to January 31.
Spring Semester: February 1 to August 31.
HOW TO ENROLL & WAIVE
New students must indicate their student health insurance choice in two places. (A) In the Web Advisor (the GTU online registration system), new students need to indicate whether they want to enroll or waive out in the GTU student health insurance plan. The info you enter into the (i.e, waive or enroll) is recorded in the student information management system and linked to your PSR bill (B) New students must also go to the Kaiser Permanente website http://studentnet.kp.org/ to actually enroll and waive in the GTU HIPS plan. The link to Kaiser’s studentnet site is also available in Web Advisor.
You can complete these two steps in any order that you choose during the open enrollment dates.
Returning students who do not to wish to change their health insurance choice in our systems in Spring do not need to need to do anything about health insurance in Web Advisor. But in Fall, you must a) ensure your health insurance selection is correct in WebAdvisr and b) go to Kaiser Permanente’s website http://studentnet.kp.org/ to actually enroll and waive in the GTU HIPS plan each Fall even if there are no changes. At this website, you must verify your health insurance status with Kaiser only at the start of every fall semester. The link to Kaiser’s studentnet site is also available in the Web Advisor.
Returning students who do wish to change from health insurance they had last semester must indicate their student health insurance choice in two places. (A) Students need to indicate whether they want to enroll in the GTU student health insurance plan or waive out in Web Advisor, the GTU on line registration system. This information is recorded in our GTU student information management system and linked to your GTU bill. (B) You also need to point your web browser to http://studentnet.kp.org/gtu to use a Kaiser Permanente website to actually enroll in GTU HIPS or waive out of the plan. You will also find a link to this site in Web Advisor.
You can complete these two steps in any order that you choose during the open enrollment dates.
1. ENROLL & WAIVE ONLINE (available during open enrollment period)
2. Web Advisor
IF YOU MISS OPEN ENROLLMENT
If you forget to submit either an enrollment or waiver form during the month of open enrollment each semester, you need to submit your form online for the Office of Academic Affairs to manually enter in your form for a $35 fee that will be billed to your account
To enroll late after the second week of classes, fill out your form with the GTU HIPS Enrollment form powered through Adobe Echosign.
To waive late after the second week of classes, fill out your form with the GTU HIPS Waiver form powered through Adobe Echosign.
|To enroll or waive you need to record your:||To waive you need to provide:|
|Legal name (Your “legal name” is the one we have recorded in the GTU student information system. The system only “requires” your “first” and “last” names.)||Name of insurance company|
|GTU student ID number (including the zeros that appear in front of the number so that your ID is a 7-digit string; check your student ID card for the number. This is NOT your Web Advisor login info)||Insurance company phone number|
|Birth Date||Policy Number|
|Email address (PSR students use the ses.psr.edu address)|
Health Insurance FAQs
Refer to the questions below, but also find out about issues particular to you as an international student here.
Affordable Care Act
You may wish to waive out of the GTU Kaiser plan by enrolling in your own plan through one of the plans offered by the Affordable Care Act. If you plan to do this make sure you have enrolled at least three months before the start of the semester so that you have received and are able to provide proof of coverage when you waive. For California residents, you may explore your insurance options and enroll at Coveredca.org.
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. Typically this can range from $15/visit to $40/visit for the GTU HIPS. However, 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 see: http://www.insurance.com/FAQs/healthFAQDetail.aspx/index/7
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. For GTU HIPS, Open Enrollment period is the first day of General Registration until the last day of Late Registration for the Fall and Spring Semesters.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions about student health insurance
How much is the school insurance plan going to cost me?
Rates change each year and are published on the GTU HIPS site. Students can expect to pay around $200-$400 per month for a single student plan. Comparable plans you wish to waive out of our plan with may have significantly higher or slightly lower premiums than ours depending on your income, number and type of dependents, and state of residence. These rates are subject to change each year.
Am I eligible to enroll with GTU HIPS if I’m taking 6, 7 or 8 credits?
Yes, you are eligible and may enroll, but you are not required. You are not eligible if you are taking below 6 credits.
Am I eligible to enroll with GTU HIPS if I’m taking 4.5 credits?
No, you must be enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester in order to be eligible for GTU student health insurance with Kaiser.
How long am I covered for with the school plan?
12 months if you enroll in the Fall and Spring from September 1st-August 31st.
How long does my insurance last if I do the Fall school insurance but not the Spring
September 1st-January 31st
How long does my insurance last if I do the Spring school insurance but not the Fall
February 1st-August 31st
Am I covered over the summer with the school plan?
Yes. Coverage dates are September 1st-August 31st
Am I covered over the holidays in December and January with the school plan?
Yes. Coverage dates are September 1st-August 31st
What kind of services does your plan cover?
See Coverage Summary for GTU HIPS Kaiser »
Do you include dental insurance with your plan?
No. PSR does not offer dental insurance and the plan we offer does not cover dental. However, we usually recommend Delta Dental, which is the same dental insurance company offered to U.C. Berkeley students. Their rates can run as low as around $100/year and usually cover basic care. To find out more and sign up for Delta, go to: http://www.deltadentalins.com/index.html.
Are vision exams covered?
Yes. There is an eye exam benefit for about $40 copay. However, materials (frames, glasses, contacts, fitting) are not covered.
I already turned in my application, and it’s already September 1st, but I haven’t gotten my Kaiser card yet. What if I need to see a doctor now?
After you apply online through the Kaiser website, print out your confirmation page as proof of your enrollment. Call the Kaiser Member Service number 1-800-464-4000 and speak to an member services representative. Give the representative your group name “Pacific School of Religion” and the group number, “600614-0003,” and tell them your name and if needed your confirmation/receipt number. You will be able to make appointments and obtain medication with that. Also, contact that toll free number to follow up on the status of your ID card.
How do I pay for my school insurance? Do I write out a check to Kaiser?
No. Once you enroll, you are billed by the PSR Business Office which includes the premium costs of your plan in your school bill once each semester. These charges will show up with the rest of your school-related charges and are payable online through WebAdvisor.
Do I need to submit a waiver or application every Fall if I’m at 9.0 credits or more?
Yes, even if there are no changes, you must submit either a waiver or application each Fall.
Do I need to subit a waiver or application every Spring if I’m at 9.0 credits or more?
No, not if there are no changes to your plan. If you wish to change anything about your plan though including who is covered or who your provider is, then yes.
I’m taking less than 9.0 credits for Fall and I have my own very ample health insurance. A) Do I need to turn in a waiver? B) What do I choose in the WebAdvisor Health Insurance Selection screen?
A) No you do not need to turn in a waiver.
B) You may choose “Not Applicable.”
I’m starting a new job that will give me health insurance that fulfills the waiver requirements, but it won’t start until November 1st, so that means I won’t be covered for September and October but I’m taking at least 9 credits. Is that ok?
No, you will need to either enroll in the school’s health insurance plan for Fall or waive out with another plan by the close of General Registration. If you want to switch to your job’s health insurance plan, you may do so at the next open enrollment period which is in January.
Can I just pay for September and October coverage then cancel my membership with GTU HIPS starting November 1st?
No, you may only cancel, add, or make changes to your GTU HIPS plan during open enrollment periods.
When is the GTU HIPS’ open enrollment period?
For GTU HIPS, Open Enrollment period is the first day of General Registration until the last day of Late Registration for the Fall and Spring Semesters. Check the Calendar to see when those are for the year you want to know about.
I’m graduating in May. I will need health insurance in the few months I transition out of PSR until I go back to my country/start a new job/can enroll in my partner’s plan. How much is the COBRA plan PSR has?
Currently, GTU HIPS does not offer COBRA continuation once students and dependents cease their membership status.
As a graduate who will no longer be enrolled in a the fall, what are the options that I am eligible for with Kaiser after August 31?
There are two options:
- You may enroll in a plan offered through the Affordable Care Act. You may cite the termination of your student health insurance plan as a “qualifying event” that will enable you to enroll in a new plan even during non-open enrollment periods.
- You may enroll in an independent “conversion plan” through Kaiser. This option is for those with limited options. In this plan, your choices are limited to the product portfolio available and the monthly cost for premiums may increase significantly. You have 60 days from the last day of your coverage to call Member Services at 1-800-464-4000 to enroll. For more information for this type of plan, go to this link.
- You may apply for the individual plan through Kaiser.This plan may be priced differently than the “conversion plan.” To find out about enrolling in an individual plan, call Kaiser Member Services at 1-800-464-4000.
What happens if I’m full-time but I refuse to submit any paperwork (either waiver or enrollment) in Fall?
Then either 1) you may be automatically enrolled in GTU HIPS with Kaiser at the single student rate and, therefore, automatically billed or 2) your registration will be revoked and your status as a student at PSR will be terminated. You will be notified via email if such an action is going to be taken, and you are responsible for checking your school email account to receive such notification.
I found a health plan I might want to purchase to waive out with, but I’m not sure if it is equivalent to the one GTU offers.
Check the coverage terms against page 2 of the GTU HIPS waiver form which will give you some general criteria and guidelines on whether the plan you are exploring is comparable. If you still are having trouble recognizing if it qualifies, bring the plan coverage terms you printed from the website or got from the insurance company to the Registrar, who can help you discern if the plan would give equivalent coverage.
What happens if I fail to submit either an enrollment or waiver form online by the close of open enrollment but I wish to?
You will need submit a hard copy Kaiser Enrollment Application or a GTU HIPS Waiver Form to your registrar by a week after the close of open enrollment.
It’s so difficult to get an appointment with my doctor at Kaiser. Are there any quicker alternatives you can suggest for really basic care like medication for a cold or flu?
Generally the Advice Line at Kaiser (1-866-454-8855) can be a really helpful and easy way to talk to a nurse or other health care practicioner who in many cases have the authority to give you a prescription that you can pick up at either the Kaiser pharmacy or another pharmacy near you. However, several pharmacies now offer a casual clinic and even cover services if you have health insurance. Always check with the pharmacy if the take your insurance carrier before receiving services.
What are my options if my health plan/waiver is not approved?
Your 4 options if you are taking 9.0 credits or more are:
- Enroll in the GTU HIPS with Kaiser. It may cost you extra in premiums or co-copay, but this may still be much less than the alternative if you should be hospitalized for even one day.
- Enroll in a plan offered by the Affordable Care Act. You cannot be rejected from such a plan by federal law.
- Depending on your age, income, and/or your veteran status, public programs through Veteran’s Affairs office or Medi-Cal may be available to you.
Medi-Cal is a good and recommendable option if you are additionally unemployed or have family living with you while you are here. Medi-Cal is issued through the county (ours is Alameda county), while Kaiser and HealthNet are private companies.
- Veteran’s Affairs
If you are a veteran you may be qualified to enroll in VA Health Care
- Cut down on your credits to be less than 9.0. However, most international students do not have the option of taking fewer than 9.0 credits in order to maintain their F-1 status, so this option is not really available to students on such visas. For others, though this is an option, it is our least recommended option, particularly if you are in a Master’s program. You will need to be full-time every semester and often more than full-time in order to finish in the stipulated years of your program. Reducing your credit load to less than 9.0 will also make you ineligible for school housing and reduce or make you ineligible for Financial Aid.
Whatever option you choose, if you have one of the plans in option 2 or 3, you have fulfilled the terms of the health insurance waiver. However, while you may end up finding a great local solution that is low cost, do consider your needs and risks and whether or not realistically you would be able to afford the higher deductibles, higher prescription costs, and, in some cases, less fulsome and adequate coverage of your plan. While we understand your concerns for the high cost of health insurance, we have your best interest in mind, and we would strongly encourage you to be aware you will need to understand what you might lose or gain if you choose a certain option over another before you commit to it.
Health Insurance FAQs for International Students
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! This is one reason that PSR and the GTU require students to have not just any health insurance, but sufficient health insurance. We do not want any student to face such a situation. Therefore, health insurance is essential.
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. Please refer to the Summary of Coverage and Benefits sheet for GTU HIPS to see what the GTU HIPS covers. While GTU HIPS covers many of the above named services, it does not cover dental or vision materials such as glasses and contacts, even though it covers eye exams. 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 including GTU HIPS include requirements for 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. For more information on the co-pays and deductibles of the school’s plan GTU HIPS, please refer to the Summary of Coverage and Benefits sheet for GTU HIPS. Health insurance policies vary and you should carefully analyze any health insurance plan you are comparing to the GTU health insurance program (GTU HIPS) for students 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? It is much cheaper than the PSR/GTU policy.
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.
Also, one of the conditions under which Kaiser has agreed to offer a school-wide plan is to ensure that all full-time students not on Kaiser have comparable plans that fulfill standards negotiated between Kaiser and our health insurance consultants. These standards are described on the GTU HIPS waiver form (PDF). If students did not fulfill this part of the bargain, PSR would lose its eligibility to offer this health insurance membership to our students.
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. The following are examples of health plans from AIG, a popular choice for international students. The first three plans do not satisfy the terms of the GTU HIPS waiver. The last one does. These first three plans DO NOT fulfill the terms of the waiver because the first three categories Accident Death & Disability, Accident Medical Expenses, and Sickness Medical Expenses total to less than $250,000:
This AIG is an example of a policy that DOES fulfill the waiver requirements because the first three categories add up to at least $250,000.
If you feel that your policy is adequate, fill in the waiver application and submit it to the Registrar who will evaluate the request and inform you whether or not your policy qualifies. If there are still questions as to the eligibility of your plan, it may be evaluated by the Chief Financial Officer. Once a decision has been made, you will be informed about your choices and deadlines – usually enrolling in the GTU HIPS plan.
When do I need to turn in my waiver form or Kaiser application?
By the last day of General Registration.