Health Insurance Help

Get help with health insurance

Domestic students

Phone

(206) 616-8476

Email

hhpccweb@uw.edu

In person

Hall Health Center
Health Promotion Office, Room 187

International students (F-1 & J-1 visas)

Visit the ISHIP website

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is health insurance?

Health insurance protects you from paying the full cost of health care – it is a contract between you and your insurance company. There are different types of health insurance in the US – private plans, which have out-of-pocket costs like premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance – and Medicaid, a government health insurance plan for low-income people.

About 75% of UW students have in-state or out-of-state private insurance, and 25% have Washington State Medicaid, also known as Apple Health. Students with private health insurance should be prepared for out-of-pocket costs, such as premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. Medicaid (Apple Health) has no costs associated with it.

Learn about your health insurance

  1. If you have health insurance, complete the new student insurance checklist and Know Your Benefits worksheet to learn about your coverage and benefits. This is an exercise for your own knowledge; you do not need to submit the worksheet or any other documentation to UW. Out-of-state families will need to determine if their insurance covers services in Washington State. Learn about out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Look into coverage of common health needs, like mental health counseling, urgent care, and prescription medication.
  2. Identify a primary care provider, an urgent care provider, and a pharmacy that are in-network with your insurance plan, where you will get the highest level of coverage. Use this worksheet to help you identify providers.

Campus health services

UW-Seattle students pay a fee that helps with the cost of one face-to-face visit with a provider each quarter (restrictions apply), as well as unlimited calls and visits with our Consulting Nurses. This fee also pays for limited services at Hall Health’s Mental Health Clinic and at UW Counseling Center. This is not a substitute for health insurance.

Does my insurance cover services at Hall Health Center?

There are thousands of insurance plans in Washington State alone, which is why we encourage you to follow the guidance above to learn about your insurance plan. Kaiser Permanente and Tricare are two insurance plans that do not cover the cost of coming to Hall Health Center/UW Medicine. Out-of-state Medicaid, such as MediCal, and out-of-state private plans purchased on a state or federal exchange, will only provide emergency coverage in Washington State.

Getting care outside the UW Medicine system

If your insurance does not contract with Hall Health Center and UW Medicine, but does work with other providers in Seattle, you will need to identify providers that you can visit affordably and conveniently, such as those listed below.

Does UW offer health insurance to students?

UW only offers health insurance to international students under certain visa types (F-1 and J-1) and certain graduate student employees. UW does not offer health insurance to domestic students – US citizens, legal permanents, DACA, and undocumented students, nor does it require domestic students to have health insurance.

Obtaining health insurance

If you do not have adequate health insurance coverage in Seattle, and are not eligible for international student insurance or graduate employee insurance, you will need to seek coverage through Washington Health Plan Finder, Washington State’s online health insurance marketplace. It is also known as “the exchange.”

All documented students – US citizens, legal permanent residents, visa holders – are eligible to apply for insurance through the exchange, regardless of income and other criteria. Only US citizens and legal permanent residents of more than 5 years will be eligible to apply for Medicaid (Apple Health). Legal permanent residents of less than 5 years and student visa holders can apply for private insurance, and may be eligible for government subsidies to assist with out-of-pocket costs depending on income.

You will not have a choice of which category of health insurance to apply for. In submitting your application, you will be sorted based on your eligibility into the appropriate category – private insurance (with or without a subsidy) or Medicaid.

Eligibility criteria for private insurance through the exchange

  • Documented immigration status (US citizen, legal permanent resident, student visa, etc.). DACA recipients and undocumented students are not eligible.
  • Local Washington State address (residence hall okay)
  • Uninsured

Eligibility criteria for private insurance subsidies

  • Documented immigration status (US citizen, legal permanent resident, student visa, etc.). DACA recipients and undocumented students are not eligible.
  • Local Washington State address (residence hall okay)
  • Washington State residency – defined as having a local address and a stated intention of remaining in Washington State after school. Note that this is a different definition of residency than for in-state tuition.
  • Earns 100%-400% of the federal poverty level. If the student is a dependent, parent/guardian income will be considered in the application.
  • Uninsured

Eligibility criteria for Medicaid (Apple Health)

  • US citizen or legal permanent resident of 5 years. Undocumented students and DACA recipients are only eligible for comprehensive insurance if pregnant.
  • Local Washington State address (residence hall okay)
  • Washington State residency – defined as having a local address and a stated intention of remaining in Washington State after school. Note that this is a different definition of residency than for in-state tuition.
  • Earns up to 133% of the federal poverty level. If the student is a dependent, parent/guardian income will be considered in the application.
  • Uninsured

Steps to apply

We suggest applying about one week before the student arrives in Seattle and/or current health insurance ends. You can apply online or by phone by calling 855-WA-FINDER. It typically takes about 30 minutes to complete the application and in many cases, applicants are eligible for coverage immediately.

You will see information about the open enrollment period on the website. Most students will be eligible to apply for insurance outside of open enrollment because they’ve experienced a qualifying life event (moving to a different zip code, losing health insurance) or are applying for Medicaid.

You will not be able to apply without a local address (residence hall address okay).

If you choose to apply online, begin by creating an account on wahealthplanfinder.org. Start a new application. Be sure to use a local Seattle address. Review the definition of residency above and determine how you will answer. If you are being claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes, you will need to provide their income information. If you are not being claimed as a dependent, use your own income. If you do not have an income, you can report your earnings as $0. Note that if you are approved for Medicaid (Apple Health), you will be contacted about 30 days from the time of the application to submit proof of income. If you do not have an income at that point, you can simply call 855-WA-FINDER and tell them that.

If you are a non-citizen, you will be asked to upload your immigration documentation. If you are a citizen or legal permanent resident,  you will be asked for your social security number.

At the end of the application, you will be asked to choose an insurance plan. Private insurance plans have many differences in monthly premiums, deductibles, networks of providers, and benefits. The only significant difference between Medicaid (Apple Health) managed care plans is the network of providers the plan is contracted with. There are no costs associated with Medicaid and benefits are standard across all plans.

Selecting a plan

To select a plan, take the following things into consideration (note that you can find a list of exchange plans that are contracted with Hall Health/UW Medicine here):

Medicaid/Apple Health
  • Does the managed care organization’s network include the clinics and providers that you want to be able to see? Are there providers that are conveniently located close to your home and/or UW?
  • Is the managed care organization’s website well-organized and easy to access?
  • Does the managed care organization have a 24-hour nurse advice line?
Private plans
  • You will need to strike a balance between the deductible (the amount of money you must pay each year before your insurance begins to cover services) and your monthly premiums. Are you a person who rarely uses health care, and would prefer a lower monthly premium? Or do you frequently need health care, and prefer a lower deductible?
  • Does the plan’s network include the clinics and providers that you want to be able to see? Are there providers that are conveniently located close to your home and/or UW?
  • Complete this worksheet for the plan(s) you consider.

Note that plans obtained through the state exchange will only provide comprehensive coverage in Washington State. Outside of Washington State, private insurance and Medicaid plans through WA Health Plan Finder will only cover emergency care.

DACA recipients and undocumented students

If you are undocumented or a DACA recipient, there are a few plans that do not have immigration requirements associated with them that are available outside of the marketplace. These plans include monthly premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. You can contact an insurance broker to learn more.

If paying for insurance is not an option, you will want to identify affordable providers that you can visit in certain situations:

Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP) 101

Need help?

  • Domestic students: Contact Hall Health Center’s Health Promotion office at hhpccweb@uw.edu, (206) 616-8476, or visit us, just off the main lobby of Hall Health Center
  • International students (J-1 and F-1): Visit the ISHIP website