Rice Unconventional Wisdom

Student Health Insurance FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

revised 10/18/2017

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

What is the policy regarding health insurance for international students at Rice University?
Rice's International Student Health Insurance Policy states that all Rice-sponsored F-1 and J-1 visa international students must enroll in either 1) Rice's Student Health Insurance Plan by Aetna or 2) the Rice Approved Alternate Plan by SAS. 

When and why was this new Rice insurance policy instituted?
Beginning Spring 2011 all Rice-sponsored F and J visa international students are required to participate in the insurance program which allows for either the Rice student health plan by Aetna or the Rice-approved alternate plan by SAS. 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 / health needs have caused extensive problems to the 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.  

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).   

What do Exempt and Non-Exempt mean and how do I know if I am Exempt?
Exempt: Students holding visas other than F-1 and J-1 are considered Exempt from International Student Insurance Policy and they can enroll in either the Rice Aetna plan or any other plan that meets the Rice waiver requirements and waive. The waiver requirements can be found at https://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu/.

Non-Exempt: All international students who have a Rice sponsored F-1 or J-1 visa are considered Non-Exempt and they are required to enroll in either the Rice Aetna plan or enroll and waive the SAS plan.

Click HERE to see if you are an EXEMPT or NON-EXEMPT student to complete your enrollment/waiver application.

How do I enroll in or waive Rice health insurance?
Students (new and returning) can visit https://oiss.rice.edu/studenthealth/ for the detailed instructions on how to enroll and waive.  

What is Open Enrollment Period?
It is the time in the beginning of Fall and Spring semesters during which all students are required to enroll in the student insurance plan of their choice and waive, if enrolled in the insurance plan other than Aetna.

I have a Hold in my record. How do I get that Hold removed if I want to enroll in the Rice Approved Alternate Plan by SAS?
Upon enrolling in the Rice Approved Alternate Plan by SAS, you will need to complete your insurance waiver for Rice using the information from your SAS plan. If your waiver is approved, the Hold in your student record will be removed.  If your waiver is denied, you will be contacted and instructed on how to correct the issue. Visit https://oiss.rice.edu/studenthealth/ for full details.  

By when do I need to decide which plan to take?
Please check Student Health Insurance and Office of International Students and Scholars for the health insurance enrollment deadline.  You must either enroll in Aetna or enroll and waive the SAS plan by that date - after that date, you are automatically defaulted to the Aetna plan.  

I am an international student with H-1B visa. Am I subject to the Rice International Student Health Insurance Policy and therefore have to enroll in Rice's Student Health Insurance Plan by Aetna or the Rice Approved Alternate Plan by SAS?
For insurance purposes only international students who are not with Rice-sponsored F-1 or J-1 visa are considered the same as domestic students. These students may be with H-1B, H-4, L-1, L-2, DACA, etc. They can either enroll in Aetna or waive their insurance plan that meets the Rice waiver requirements. The waiver requirements can be found at https://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu/.   

I am an international student with J-1 visa and I am fully sponsored by the Government of my country. The Government provides a health insurance as well. Am I required to purchase the Rice Aetna or SAS?
Government sponsored students can be exempt from enrolling in one of the two approved plans only if they provide OISS with supporting documentation that proves it. After they receive the OISS approval, they are required to apply for a waiver using their insurance plan that meets the Rice waiver requirements. The waiver requirements can be found at https://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu/. 

I am an international student with F-1 visa and I am planning to spend a year in Paris on a Study Abroad program. Am I required to purchase the Rice Aetna or SAS while I am out of country?
The student who is residing abroad engaging in approved research or study abroad program can be exempt from the Rice International Student Health Insurance Policy. He/she is required to apply for a waiver using their insurance plan that meets the Rice waiver requirements. The waiver requirements can be found at https://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu/. 

I am an international student with J-1 visa and I am planning to switch to H-4 visa starting from the next semester.  Am I required to purchase the Rice Aetna or SAS when I am in H-4 status?
The student who is no longer on a Rice-sponsored F-1 or J-1 student visa can be exempt from the Rice International Student Health Insurance Policy.  He/she is required to apply for a waiver using their insurance plan that meets the Rice waiver requirements. The waiver requirements can be found at https://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu/. 

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.
 

I heard there is a Rice subsidy for insurance. 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.  

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 Aetna 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.  

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? 
Aetna:

Plan specific and network provider questions:
Contact Aetna Students Health directly at 1-877-480-4161 or click here to visit the website. 

Your doctor's office is closed and you do not know whether your condition is life threatening:
Aetna Nurse Health Hotline: 1-800-556-1555 (ONLY available to students enrolled in the Aetna insurance plan)
Memorial Hermann Nurse Health Line: 713-338-7979 or Toll Free at 1-855-577-7979

General questions: Rice Student Health Center
Phone: 713-348-4966
Email: studentinsurance@rice.edu

SAS:

Enrollment Issues: SAS
SAS: http://www.sas-mn.com/
SAS Customer Service Phone: 1-800-328-2739
Direct Contact for Rice University: Paul Fisher - preferably by email at paul@psihealthplans.com or by phone 877-626-0360

Benefits and Claims Issues: Consolidated Health Plans
Consolidated Health Plan: www.chpstudent.com
2077 Roosevelt Ave. Springfield, MA 01104
Phone: 800-633-7867 (8am - 5pm)

General Questions: Office of International Students and Scholars
Email: oiss@rice.edu
Phone: 713-348-6095

How do I file a claim?  
Doctor's office usually files a claim for you. If your doctor's office does not file the clain directly with your insurance company, you can file the claim by submitting an Aetna Claim Form or SAS Claim Form and itemized bill to the address that you can see on the back of your insurance ID card after your visit to the doctor.

What is the difference between the Emergency Room and Urgent Care Facility?  
Emergency Rooms (ER) treat life threatening medical conditions. If the medical condition is not life threatening, Urgent Care facilities can be a less costly and faster alternative to the ER. There may be shorter wait times at Urgent Care facilities as well. Most Urgent Care facilities are open after hours, while some them may be open 24/7. Emergency Rooms are always open 24/7.