The University at Buffalo requires all full-time domestic students and all international students to carry sufficient medical insurance coverage for the duration of their academic registration at UB. All full-time domestic students (Full time is defined as undergraduates with 12 credit hours or more and graduate/professional students with 9 credit hours or more.) and all international students (1 credit hour or more) will be automatically assessed the insurance premium to their student account and enrolled in the University's health insurance program. Domestic students are insured through Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY Student Medical Insurance Plan and International students through HTH Worldwide Insurance Services.
If you have private coverage through your parents, spouse or employer, you may qualify for a waiver of the University's plan. In order to qualify for waiver of the University's insurance policy, your private insurance must provide comparable or more comprehensive coverage than the University's plan while also providing non-emergency coverage for lab, x-ray and physicians visits, mental health and prescription benefits in the Buffalo, NY area. Students may be required to provide written confirmation of their policy benefits in order to complete the waiver process. For a complete list of requirements please contact the SBI Student Medical Insurance Office located at 223 Student Union at 716-645-3044 or visit the website at www.healthinsurance.buffalo.edu.
Please DO NOT contact Student Health regarding insurance questions; all insurance-related inquiries will be directed to the Student Medical Insurance Office. Domestic students must perform the waiver online and international students must send a paper waiver form along with a copy of their private insurance card to the Student Medical Insurance Office. All information outlining deadlines and requirements as well as the online waiver portal and the international student paper waiver PDF file are available at www.healthinsurance.buffalo.edu.
On October 1, 2013, the new Health Insurance Marketplace opened up across the country. Health Services in cooperation with the SubBoard One Student Medical Insurance Office will continue to post relevant information for UB students and their families:
U.S. Health Care Reform
As a UB student (or the parent or guardian of one), health care reform may be affecting your thinking about health insurance coverage. On October 1, 2013, the new Health Insurance Marketplace opened up across the country. The Marketplace was created to provide an option to purchase health insurance, especially for those who have not had access to health insurance in the past. It allows shoppers (individuals and families) to compare health insurance plans and choose the one that best matches their financial situation and health care needs.
How this Impacts UB Students
At this time, the Marketplace options most directly impact:
- Part-time UB students who do not currently have medical insurance coverage.
- Part-time or Full-time UB students who lose coverage during the school year.
- UB students who are graduating.
Part-time students who do not currently have medical insurance coverage or any student who loses their insurance coverage during the academic year can enroll in the UB Student Medical Insurance Plan or go to healthcare.gov for information about the Health Insurance Marketplace plans. Students who are graduating from UB and are not yet employed or their employer does not offer medical insurance coverage should go to healthcare.gov for information about the Health Insurance Marketplace plans.
In the coming months there will be a sharp rise in marketing and communications geared toward young adults (aka the "young invincibles") from people both for and against the Affordable Care Act. Those under 30 years of age are a key focus of the law because they are currently uninsured in large numbers and are attractive to insurance companies because they represent less of a cost burden than older individuals. The flurry of mixed messages means it is critical for students to get informed about their choices and to find a plan that works for them.
What to choose?
Make sure you understand any plan you are considering, what it covers, how it works, and whether it facilitates or impedes access to timely, affordable, confidential care.
- Make sure the plan provides coverage in Buffalo, or anywhere else you study or travel.
- Be aware that a plan that provides "emergency only" coverage when a person seeks services "out of network" does not work for UB students nor does it meet UB's requirements for full time students.
- UB's Student Medical Insurance Plan provides inpatient and outpatient medical and mental health care coverage in the Buffalo area. It also provides extensive worldwide coverage with the internationally recognized Blue Cross Blue Shield network.
- UB students often express concerns related to the privacy of their health care and insurance.
- We are aware that many students who are covered by their parent's plan avoid seeking care for sensitive health issues, or pay out of pocket rather than submit a bill for reimbursement. Students often tell us they prefer to have their own insurance and are more likely to use it without worries related to confidentiality.
- We encourage parents and students to have conversations about privacy, explanation of benefits (EOB) statements, and paying for health care as you consider health insurance options and before care is needed.
- Premiums for dependent coverage through a family plan may cost less up front than the UB Student Medical Insurance Plan. If the plan provides coverage that meets UB's requirements, and you can address privacy concerns, it may be a very good deal for you.
- Do make sure you understand how charges associated with health care services will be handled so you can assess whether the plan actually provides coverage you can use and afford.
- Please be aware that ALL UB students are eligible to receive primary care medical and counseling services on campus through UB Health Services and UB Counseling Services, no matter what insurance coverage they have.
- Know what your insurance will cover if you need specialty care in Buffalo and/or any services outside the area.
- Do not be tempted by high deductible or "young invincible" health plans. They provide no coverage for routine health care, and in our experience cause too many students to delay or forego needed health care.
UB's Student Insurance Advisory Committee will focus again this year on balancing the health care needs of UB students and the affordability of the plan. The goal of their work is to offer a Student Medical Insurance Plan for UB students that:
- Provides for the needs of the greatest number of students
- Balances plan design with cost and coverage
- Provides a reasonably priced option for students (and their dependents) who otherwise would be un- or under-insured
Study the Issues/Resource Websites
- New York State of Health (NYS Marketplace)
- American College Health Association (ACHA)
- US Department of Health and Human Services
- Kaiser Health News: College Health Plans: Exploring the Options (06/18/12)
- Young Invincibles Flow Chart (PDF)
- Gallagher Koster's Healthcare Exchanges FAQs for Students (PDF)