Health Insurance for College Students: Why SHIP Makes Sense

by John Montesi

Going off to college involves a lot of life changes. There are the obvious ones, like starting college-level classes, making new friends, and moving away from home. Then there are the smaller ones, like having to do your own laundry and source your own meals.

Somewhere in between exist those important details that rarely get talked about—like health insurance for college students. Gidget Wood, administrative director for the Student Health Center at Azusa Pacific University, noted that the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) can help students rest assured they’re fully covered for any issues that may arise.

Coverage Designed for Students

SHIP is a fantastic program for college students. It provides easy access to all manner of health care providers, from the Student Health Center to specialists all around campus. This access is one of the first things to consider when looking at health insurance for college students.

Even if you’re enrolled in a great plan on your parents’ account, things can become tricky when you’re studying in a different region. Many providers require primary physician referrals before seeing specialists, which can become complicated when you’re in a different state and need to make appointments while balancing a busy college schedule. A big benefit of SHIP is the ability to be referred to a specialist by the Student Health Center.

“SHIP is a PPO plan, but in order to avoid paying a deductible, you must be referred by the Student Health Center for services obtained outside of the center,” Wood explained. “The deductible for in-network referrals is $150 and for out of network is $300. If you are referred by the health center, then the deductible is waived.”

Health Care in Walking Distance

SHIP coverage is designed around the Student Health Center, which provides both undergraduate and graduate students with a wide array of health care services without ever leaving campus. Getting sick while at college—or requiring any type of medical attention—can feel overwhelming, so the health center is designed to take the confusion and difficulty out of seeking help.

Wood noted that all visits to the Student Health Center are free, and students don’t need a copy of their insurance card to be seen. This alone makes SHIP a valuable option, but that’s not the only benefit offered. For instance, Wood detailed the level of care offered by the SHC at Azusa Pacific University.

“The SHC has a dispensary with 50 different medications that are prepackaged by a licensed pharmacist for your convenience,” Wood said. “Students with SHIP only pay 25 percent of the cost (for most meds, this is $2.50) while the remainder is billed to Aetna for the student.”

This makes the logistics of seeking treatment and getting proper prescriptions remarkably easy and affordable. There’s no need to leave campus to see a doctor or track down the right pharmacy for your prescriptions—you can feel confident in knowing that you’re covered and within reach of assistance.

Receiving Coverage Throughout College

If you enroll in SHIP, you could be covered for the entire duration of your college career, including summer and winter breaks. Unlike traditional insurance plans that bill monthly, Wood explained that SHIP is an annual policy, so students pay for it once in the fall and once in the spring, and are provided coverage for 12 months. Much like tuition and room and board, the payment schedule for SHIP makes it easy to fit into your college budget and ensures that your coverage never lapses when you’re far from home and need to see a health care professional.

“Check out the Student Health Center website to view the many services we offer,” Wood suggested. “At APU, we can take care of most illnesses and injuries, place casts and sutures, handle mental health issues, treat warts, and take care of just about any issue that your primary care provider would be able to address.”

With simple coverage options and so many treatments available right on campus, the Student Health Insurance Plan makes it easy to stay healthy in college. You still have to do your own laundry, though.

Thinking about attending Azusa Pacific? Learn more about the many student resources the campus has to offer.