Request a Waiver

Last reviewed: 1/4/2023

In order to request a waiver or exception from enrollment in the Columbia Plan, you must have alternate coverage that meets the University requirements as outlined below. You must provide sufficient information regarding your alternate health insurance plan to allow independent verification that your plan meets the University requirements.

All requests are considered but approval is not guaranteed. Charges on your student account are only removed if a waiver or exception is approved.


Waiver Criteria 

Full-time domestic students are required to enroll in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan or provide proof of comparable coverage as described below.

Domestic students should review their alternate coverage to determine whether it meets all of the following criteria:

  1. The plan must meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for routine, urgent, and emergent care for all of the act’s Essential Health Benefits in New York State. For a description of the act’s Essential Health Benefits, read Compare Your Coverage.
  2. The plan must be licensed to do business in the United States.
  3. The plan must be effective and remain in force for the duration as noted below.
New Students
  • Fall admits: August 15, 2022 to August 14, 2023
  • Spring admits: January 1, 2023 to August 14, 2023
  • Summer admits: May 15, 2023 to August 14, 2023
Continuing Students
  • August 15, 2022 to August 14, 2023
Graduating Students
  • August 15, 2023 to the last day of the month in the last academic term in which the student is registered

    Students with approved waivers assume full responsibility for medical costs not covered by their health insurance plan.

    New and continuing Fall students can request a waiver (domestic students) from mandatory enrollment via the Patient Portal no later than September 30, 2022.

    Any domestic student with active Medicaid coverage may request a waiver from the University insurance requirement. Waiver requests from students with New York State Medicaid will generally be approved. Requests from students with Medicaid coverage from outside New York State are typically denied if the student is living in New York, as these plans may not provide coverage outside of their state of residence. All waiver requests are evaluated on an individual basis.

    When making waiver decisions, all Medicaid-covered students should consider the gaps in coverage they may experience while attending the University; for instance, travel abroad or anywhere outside their Medicaid state may not be included.

    New York State Medicaid-covered students may not be covered while outside of New York. In addition, referral options for students enrolled in Medicaid plans needing specialists’ care off-campus may be limited.

    Students with Medicaid who are interested in The Columbia Plan may wish to address concerns about cost with their school financial aid office.

    Every student’s policy coverage must meet the waiver requirements outlined by the University. Plans that do not meet these criteria are not considered adequate coverage and will not be accepted. Requirements are established to minimize a student’s risk of incurring exorbitant medical costs. Students accept full financial responsibility for hospital, laboratory, physician, diagnostic testing, and other medical costs not covered by their insurance.

    Charges on Your Student Account Statement

    A charge for the Fall term of the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan may appear on the first student account statement, even if the student has requested a waiver. These charges will be removed if the request is approved within 10 business days of submitting the request.

    Health insurance benefits can vary from plan to plan. As domestic students considering either using The Columbia Plan or enrolling in an alternate insurance plan, here are a few points to consider before making a decision:

    1. Does the alternate insurance plan meet University criteria for comparable insurance coverage?
    2. Will you age out of an insurance plan carried by parents or legal guardians while you are at Columbia?
    3. What costs are involved in extending coverage provided through a previous employer, such as COBRA? Compare these with the premiums for the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan.

    A student unsure about how an alternate plan compares to The Columbia Plan should contact their insurance carrier for details about available benefits, including access to in-network providers in New York City, cost of in- and out-of-network providers, cost of lab examinations, prescription medication benefits, and any other frequently used benefits.

    The Columbia Plan provides coverage for a broad range of healthcare needs, both while students are in the United States and abroad:

    • Benefits are designed to complement services available on-campus (in-person and telehealth).
    • An on-campus clinician serves as a student’s primary care provider (with no co-pay).
    • Access to services is streamlined and paperwork is limited.
    • Students pay a co-pay for visits with consulting providers off-campus (when referred by an on-campus clinician) and for prescription medications.
    • The plan offers access to the nationwide Aetna network of specialists, representing clinicians in most areas of medical specialty. This can be of particular benefit while traveling or living away from campus.
    • Benefits are included for emergency assistance while traveling outside the United States.
    • The plan covers an academic year, starting August 15, 2021 and ending August 14, 2022.

    It is important to know that The Columbia Plan meets and exceeds the requirements for the following:

    • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
    • U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program for International Students & Scholars
    • Affordable Care Act (ACA)
    • New York State Department of Insurance

    How do the Columbia Plan's cost and benefits compare to a platinum plan on the insurance exchange?

    Table demonstrating differences between the cost and benefits of the Columbia Student Health Insurance compared to a platinum plan on the insurance exchange