Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

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Insurance Enrollment & Coverage 

Insurance Enrollment or Waiver

A1. What is the policy regarding health insurance at Rice University? 
All degree-seeking students at Rice University are required to have health insurance.  Students who do not complete an Insurance Enrollment or Waiver form will have their registration put on hold.

A2. How do I enroll in, or waive, Rice health insurance?
All students, new and returning, must complete their insurance selection at studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu each year they are enrolled at Rice.  All students will complete either an Enrollment Form for selecting the Rice Student Health Plan, or a Waiver Form to indicate that other insurance coverage is in place. (Please note: International students must follow additional University policies regarding Health Insurance.  See the International Students section on this webpage for more information.) Students who do not complete an Enrollment or Waiver Form will have their account put on hold. Enrollment and Waiver selections mustbe made online and submitted by September 4 for the fall semester or January 22 for newly registered spring semester students. Eligible students will be automatically enrolled in the Rice/Aetna plan, unless either an online enrollment or waiver request has been submitted by the specified deadline dates.

A3. Who has the option to waive insurance coverage?
Any student that has valid alternative insurance can waive the Rice insurance plan.  However, this does not apply to International Students. For additional information concerning the new rules  for International Student insurance coverage, please see the International Student section or information on the OISS website.

A4. If I waive health insurance in the fall, can I select it in the spring?   
Yes, you will need to contact the Office of Student Benefits in order to fill out an enrollment application.  You will not be able to enroll in coverage online if you have an active waiver on file.  

A5. I have opted to waive Rice Health Insurance. Now what? 
In order to maintain compliance with University policy, complete the insurance waiver form at studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu. Be sure to check your policy to determine which Houston area medical practitioner and facilities are covered under your plan.

A6. How do I register for health insurance if I do not yet have a Houston address?  

  • You can use your department address where you will receive on-campus mail and correspondence.
  • Confirm/Check address information with your graduate coordinator.

A7. What if I waived the Rice plan, but later need to enroll after the deadline?
Students who had previously waived coverage may enroll themselves and their eligible dependents after the deadline date only if there has been a significant life change (i.e., loss of prior coverage or getting married). If the completed Enrollment Form is submitted within 31 days following the qualifying event, the effective date will be the day after the qualifying event. Please note, premiums will be prorated based on the plan effective date, Please visit studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu for details.

A8. I only need Rice coverage for a few months because (for example) I will be coming in the summer before my official matriculation to conduct research or participate in an on-campus summer program.  Can I get Rice health insurance for just a few months? 
Yes, the options are annual, fall only or spring/summer only; or pro-rated options are available. For more information, see Health Insurance Options for Summer Early Grad Matriculates (which would also work for someone leaving mid-semester): http://graduate.rice.edu/summerinsurance/.

A9. I have to withdrawal from school. Can I get my insurance premium refunded?
If you withdraw from school within the first 31 days of a coverage period, you will not be covered under the Policy and the full premium will be refunded, less any claims paid.  After 31 days, you will be covered for the full period that you have paid the premium for, and no refund will be allowed. (This refund policy will not apply if you withdraw due to a covered Accident or Sickness).

A10. When I leave Rice, will I lose my health insurance?  
Once you enroll in an insurance plan and keep it for at least 31 days, you will have it for the duration of the term, even if your student status ends. The annual health insurance is effective from 8/15 to 8/14 of the following year; the fall-only coverage is effective from 8/15 to 12/31; the spring/summer coverage is from 1/1 to 8/14.

Insurance Coverage (of Self, Spouse, Domestic Partners, and Dependents)

A11. What is pre-authorization?
Pre-authorization simply means calling Aetna Student Health prior to treatment to obtain approval for a medical procedure or service.  Please see this informational flyer regarding the pre-authorization program.  

    All requests for authorization must be obtained by contacting Aetna Student Health at (877) 375-7908 (attention Managed Care Department) or toll-free, (800) 466-5996. To ensure accuracy in coverage and billing, always carry your insurance card.

    However, the Rice Student Health Center should be your first stop for any non-emergency health care, including check-ups, vaccinations, prescriptions, etc.

    A12. Do I need to do anything after using my insurance card at a doctor’s officer, hospital, or other location?
    Yes, it is your responsibility to submit claim forms for each injury or illness, unless treated at the on-campus Rice Health Center. A health provider may offer to submit claims for you, but do not assume that all providers will perform this service. If the student goes to an Aetna Preferred Provider, one of the benefit is there are no claim forms to be filled out and submitted. However if the student sees an Aetna Non-Preferred provider, It would be under this circumstance that the student may have to submit a claim form for the claim to be processed according to the plan..

    A13. How do I add my spouse, domestic partner, or dependent(s) to my medical insurance?
    To add a person(s) to your insurance, follow these simple instructions:

    • Go to the Student Health website at studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu and enter the Health Insurance application.
    • Under the dependent coverage section, you will be able to add additional people during the open enrollment period.

    Domestic partners will have to return a signed Affidavit to Aetna. There are three ways to do so:

      Mail:

    Rice University Account Representative
    Aetna Student Health
    200 Rivers Edge Drive
    Medford, MA 02155

       Fax: Kelley Bowman (619) 231-4699 
       Email: Kelley Bowman bowmank@aetna.com

    Remember:

    • Keep a copy of the Affidavit for your records.
    • Completed forms MUST be submitted within 31 days of enrollment.
    • This form requires (2) signatures to be valid.

    Adding a Spouse after open-enrollment

    Eligible dependents can be enrolled in the Rice Plan after the deadline dates of September 4th and January 22th if there has been a significant life change event (i.e., loss of prior coverage or getting married). The completed enrollment application must be submitted within 31 days of the qualifying event. If the completed Enrollment Form is submitted after the 31 days of the qualifying event, it will not be accepted, and the student and/or dependent(s) will have to wait until the next enrollment period to enroll.

    A14. How do I get coverage for my newborn infant? 
    A child born to a Covered Person shall be covered for Accident, Sickness, and Congenital Defects for 31 days from the date of birth. At the end of this 31-day period, coverage will cease under the Rice University Student Health Insurance Plan. To enroll the dependent retroactive to their date of birth, the Covered Student must: 1) enroll the child within 31 days of birth, and 2) pay the additional premium.  Please contact the Office of Student Benefits for the enrollment application.  

    A15. Coordination of Benefits or Dual Coverage
    If the Covered Person is insured under more than one group health plan, the benefits of the plan that covers the insured student will be used before those of a plan that provides coverage as a dependent. That is, if a student is a dependent on another plan, the Rice plan will be primary and pay claims first. For example, if a student is on the Rice plan, and also their parents’ or spouse’s plan as a covered dependent, all claims will be paid by Rice first.

    When both parents have group health plan that provide coverage as a dependent, the benefits of the plan of the parent whose birth date falls earlier in the year will be used first. The benefits available under this Plan may be coordinated with other benefits available to the Covered Person under any auto insurance, Workers’ Compensation, Medicare, or other coverage. The Plan pays in accordance with the rules set forth in the Rice Plan Policy.

    A16. What is the Mandatory Student Health Fee? 
    The mandatory student health fee is separate from student health insurance, and is charged to ALL students. This fee allows students to receive primary health care, short-term psychological and psychiatric services and health education through the Student Health Services, the Rice Counseling Center, and the Wellness Office. If students need specialized or long-term care, the professional staff of these centers will help them find off-campus referrals. Contact each office with questions:

      Health Services  
    (713) 348-4966
      Rice Counseling (713) 348-4867

    A17. What is the Health Data Form (HDF)? 
    ALL new undergraduate and graduate students, including Jones School of Business students, are required to submit a properly completed Health Data Form (HDF) to Student Health. This is a one-time form, to be submitted only by new students. Note: this is not the same as the Insurance Enrollment Form or Waiver Form.

    A18. When is the HDF due?
    Graduate student HDFs are due July 1st for the Fall semester, or December 1st for the Spring Semester.

    Important Information regarding the Health Data Form

    • Double check that all of the required elements (immunizations and physical exam sections) are PROPERLY completed.
    • A properly completed Health Data form is required for registration for classes.
    • The Health Data Form cannot be completed by Student Health at Rice.
    • Student Health cannot provide immunizations for entering students.
    • New graduate students are notified of the HDF on the “New Grad Students” tab in Esther, which they are directed to when they receive their Esther PIN. The Esther PIN is emailed to the new students within a week of their admittance to Rice. If there is a delay in your submission of the Health Data Form, please do not become upset with the staff at Student Health. It is your responsibility to make sure the HDF is completed properly and submitted in a timely fashion.
    • TIP: It is generally a good idea to make a copy of the HDF (in case it gets lost in the mail).

    A19. Helpful Resources 
    For questions about the Student Health Plan, or to get additional information on other services available to Student Health participants, contact Aetna Student Health Customer Service at 877-375-7908 or log-on to their website (http://www.aetnastudenthealth.com) and “Find Your School”.

    For additional questions about insurance enrollment and coverage, complaints, or feedback on the Aetna Student Health Plan, contact Lauren Hagler (email: studentinsurance@rice.edu; phone: 713-348-5544).

    B. Doctoral Insurance Subsidy 

    B1. What is the Medical Insurance Subsidy?
    This is an award offered to you by the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies because you have met certain criteria.  It reduces the cost of the Aetna Student Health Plan premium.  If you do not choose the Aetna Student Health Plan, you will not qualify for this subsidy.

    B2. Do I qualify for the medical insurance subsidy?   
    The medical insurance subsidy is available to full-time doctoral students in their first 8 years of doctoral study at Rice who enroll in the Rice Aetna medical plan. For more info, see http://graduate.rice.edu/healthsubsidy.

    B3. If I waive the Rice Aetna plan because I have my own non-Rice plan, or choose an alternative insurance plan, will I still receive the insurance subsidy? 
    No, the doctoral medical insurance subsidy is only available for eligible students who choose the Rice Aetna plan. For international students, it may not be applied to the SAS approved Rice Alternate Plan.  

    B4. When will I see the medical insurance subsidy on my account?  
    If you qualify for the subsidy, you should see it on your Esther account, below current semester charges in the area titled Expected Aid. The subsidy will show up several weeks before your bill is due.  Once you have made your insurance selection, any necessary adjustment will appear on your account within 4 business days.

    For additional questions about the doctoral insurance subsidy, contact Pam On in Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (email:pdo1@rice.edu; phone: 713-348-5812).

    C. Payment and Billing Options 

    C1. I have alternative (non-Rice) insurance coverage, but was charged Rice’s medical insurance fee on my Rice bill. How do I remove this charge?
    If you haven’t already done so, submit the Insurance Waiver form online (described under Insurance Enrollment and Coverage).  When the Cashier’s Office processes your form, the insurance charge will be credited back to your account.  This process can take up to 2 weeks.

    C2. How often are Insurance Waiver and Application forms processed by the Cashier’s Office?
    The Cashier’s Offices processes forms within 1 business days of your submission. However, if your waiver is randomly selected for an audit, it may take up 5 to 10 business days.

    C3. How do I get charged for the Fall Semester coverage rather than the Annual coverage?
    When you fill out the Insurance Application, select the Fall coverage.  When the Cashier’s Office processes your form, you will be credited for the Annual coverage, and charged for the Fall coverage.

    C4. How do I pay for my spouse/dependent/domestic partner coverage?
    Charges for other individuals on your insurance plan will be charged to your Rice account within 5 business days of your submission.  They are due by the due date of your account.

    C5. How are newborns covered and charged?
    You will need to complete an enrollment application no more than 31 days after your child is born.  The insurance chage for the newborn will be added to your tuition bill.  In order to access the enrollment application, please contact the Office of Student Benefits (studentinsurance@rice.edu).

    C6. When are the insurance charges due?
    All insurance charges are due by the due date of your Rice account.

    C7. If I sign up for the Rice plan, can I get a refund if I change my mind?
    If you wish to drop the Aetna Student Health Plan after signing up, you can only get a refund if you submit the Waiver form before August 15.  After this time, you cannot receive a refund, with few exceptions as covered in the Health Plan Brochure, and under the condition of withdrawal from Rice within 31 days of the start of the coverage period.

    C8. Is the premium pro-rated if I enroll after the beginning date of coverage?
    Yes, premiums are pro-rated, provided you are eligible to enroll in the Aetna plan after the first 30 days of the new semester. Also, newborn dependents are covered from the date of birth.

    C9. How can I pay for the medical insurance charges?
    The insurance charges (for the Aetna Student Health Plan) are placed on the same bill as your tuition and fees.  Therefore, you have the same payment options that you do for your tuition and fees.  These include:

    • Payroll deduction (but see next question for details and restrictions). Note that this is only an option for insurance premiums, not for tuition or fees or other charges to a student account.
    • Initiate a payment plan (minimum of 25% down by the due date and interest is charged on the remaining balance).
    • Pay online with an electronic check for free or with a credit card. Credit card payments require an additional 2.75% convenience fee. 
    • Pay by cash, check, money order, cashier’s check or debit card (for free) in the Cashier’s Office.
    • Pay with a wire transfer (this option is available only to international students). 
    • Mail a check, money order, or cashier’s check to the Cashier’s Office; be sure to include your Rice ID number.
      Rice University
    Cashier’s Office-MS #55
    P.O. Box 1892
    Houston, Texas 77521-1892

    C10. Do I qualify for Payroll Deduction? If so, how do I pay by Payroll Deduction?
    Only students that meet certain criteria have the option to place their Medical Insurance premium on payroll deduction. Qualifying students must be enrolled in the annual Rice medical insurance plan. Payroll deduction of insurance premiums is available to full-time graduate students (Master’s or Doctoral) receiving a Rice stipend of at least $5,000 per academic year, over both the fall and spring semesters. For more details, see http://graduate.rice.edu/healthpayrolldeduction.

    C11. What is the Doctoral Insurance Subsidy, and do I qualify for it?
    See the Doctoral Insurance Subsidy section to determine if you qualify for an insurance subsidy.

    C12. How do I pay for the additional dental option?
    Contact Aetna directly for this option.  You can call Aetna Student Health Customer Service at 877-375-7908 or log-on to their website (http://www.aetnastudenthealth.com) and “Find Your School”.

    C13. What is the “Required Fee – Health Services”?
    THIS FEE IS NOT INSURANCE.  This is a required fee charged to ALL students to cover a student’s access to Health Services resources, including, but not necessarily limited to, the Health Center, the Wellness Center and the Counseling Center.

    C14. What is an Insurance Hold?
    An “Insurance Hold” is a hold on your registration records, placed by the Cashier’s Office. The hold is placed on your account if you have not submitted your insurance information by the due date.  It will prevent you from registering or changing your class schedule.  The holds are removed daily by the Cashier’s Office, after your form is processed.

    C15. What if I still have more questions about payment options?
    For further information on payment options, contact the Cashier’s Office at (713) 348-4946.  Make all checks payable to Rice University and mail to:

      Rice University
    Cashier’s Office-MS #55
    P.O. Box 1892
    Houston, Texas 77521-1892
    D. International Students 

    D1. Is there a new Rice insurance policy for international students?
    Yes, beginning Spring 2011 all Rice-sponsored F and J visa international students are required to participate in the insurance program that allows for either the Rice Student Health Plan by Aetna, or the Rice-approved Alternate Plan by Student Assurance Services (SAS).

    D2. Why was this new policy instituted?
    Just as Rice provides a quality education to all of its students, it must provide quality health insurance options for its students. Unknowingly, many students have chosen health insurance plans that have given little or no protection to the international students or their families. Costs for unexpected medical or health needs have caused extensive problems to students, their families, and other loved ones. Part of the cost of an education in the USA is a health insurance program that provides appropriate coverage. Rice's policy mirrors many universities' policies for international students for the same reasons.

    D3. Who made the decision for this new policy?
    The decision regarding this new policy was made at the highest level in the University.  Many University Offices that are involved when there is a student illness, injury, or death were included in the discussions regarding this policy change. 

    D4. How was this new policy communicated to new and continuing students?
    New policy details were communicated via email to all international students by the Office of International Students & Scholars.  See the OISS website for a copy of the communication.

    D5. Can you help me compare the two insurance plans?
    Health insurance is a very personal issue, as it depends on one's personal medical history, needs, and particular situation. You can compare the costs and benefits of each plan by clicking on the plan name: Rice Plan (Aetna) or Rice Alternate Plan (SAS).

    D6. I heard there is a Rice Insurance subsidy. Who is eligible for this subsidy?
    Rice doctoral students are eligible for the subsidy. However, it is only applied to those who enroll in the Rice Aetna student health insurance plan. For more details, see the Doctoral Insurance Subsidy section.

    D7. If I have questions regarding the details of the Rice Alternate Plan by SAS, or if I have claim processing issues, who can I contact?  
    You may contact Paul Fisher, preferably by email (paul@psihealthplans.com) or by phone ((877) 626-0360). 

    D8. What is the deadline for deciding which plan to take?
    You must decide by August 15th, which is the Health Insurance enrollment deadline.  After that date, you are automatically defaulted to the Aetna plan.

    D9. I was automatically charged the Aetna plan on my student bill.

    a) Is there anything else I need to do if I want the Aetna plan?

    Yes, you must still fill out the Enrollment Form.  This is where you may indicate any dependents you might want to add to the plan, as well as your personal information so Aetna can send you your health insurance card.  Please visit http://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu to complete your enrollment.

    b) How do I get that charge removed if I want to enroll in the Rice Alternate Plan?
    Upon enrolling in the Rice Alternate Plan by SAS, you will need to complete your insurance waiver for Rice using the information from your SAS plan. Visit http://oiss.rice.edu/gateway.aspx?id=208 for full details.

    D10. What is the enrollment process?
    Check the Insurance and Enrollment section, or visit http://oiss.rice.edu/gateway.aspx?id=208 for the full the enrollment process.

    For additional questions related to insurance policies for international students, please contact Sandra Bloem-Curtis (sandra@rice.edu) in the Office of International Students and Scholars.

    For a list of common insurance terms, please go to the Rice Student Health Insurance website.  Or see a more comprehensive list of terms in Aetna's glossary .

    Last Revised September 2014