International Student Health Insurance
Please be aware there are changes to the System Student Health Insurance Plan or (SSHIP) and cost associated with the plan for the 2015-2016 academic years. The insurance coverage is with Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance company. It is administered by Academic Health Plans (AHP) for all Texas A&M University System schools. You may find information about the plan at Academic Health Plans.
All international students (any student that is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) are required to have the Texas A&M University System Student Health Insurance Plan (SSHIP) while enrolled at a Texas A&M University System school. There are waivers to the insurance requirements. Please see (Waiver Requirements and Processes). Because the plan is mandatory it will be charged to your tuition and fee billing statement. Please check your student billing statement frequently as charges can appear even after you have paid your bill in full.
The cost for the 2015-2016 academic year is $1,692. The premium cost will be divided as follows:
Fall 2015 - $846 (coverage dates 9/01/15 thru 12/31/15) and Spring 2016 - $846 (coverage dates 01/01/16 thru 08/31/16). This method of payment ensures no lapse in coverage for students during the summer months. Coverage is good in your home country as well as in the U.S. *** If you graduate in December 2015, you must make payment arrangements for continued coverage directly with AHP while in Optional Practical Training (OPT) status. You may complete an insurance continuation form at the AHP website by clicking on the enrollment tab.
New Fall 2015 and/or Spring 2016 semester students - New students who arrive in the U.S. prior to the fall or spring semester coverage start dates, are advised to have other medical/health insurance coverage that will cover medical needs prior to the SSHIP effecitve dates.
Waiver Of The Health Insurance Requirement
Students will be automatically enrolled in the mandatory insurance plan and charges will be applied to their billing statments unless they: 1) Meet one of the waiver criteria; 2) Apply for the waiver ; 3) Are notified they have been granted a waiver. Waiver requirements are listed below:
- Student is sponsored by the United States government;
- Student is sponsored by a foreign government recognized by the United States or certain international, government-sponsored or non-governmental organizations, and covered under a health plan that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the health plan does not include medical evacuation and repatriation, a rider must be purchased providing coverage at equal limits to the SSHIP;
- Student is enrolled in an employer-provided group health plan that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act. If the health plan does not include medical evacuation and repatriation, a rider must be purchased providing coverage at equal limits to the SSHIP;
- Student is enrolled in only distance learning programs; or
- Student is involved in intercollegiate athletics and coverage for all medical insurance is provide dthrough a policy as part of the current sports acident medical policy approved by System Risk Management.
Applications for waiver from automatic enrollment in SSHIP are subject to Texas A&M University System Regulation #26.99.01. All requests will be subject to review and approval by the SSHIP insurance provider for compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
To apply for a waiver you will need to create a new waiver account first. To create the account, do the following:
- Have your student ID, a scanned copy of your insurance card and benefit policy, including exclusions.
- Go to the insurance waiver website and review the waiver criteria.
- If you meet the criteria, create a new waiver account.
- Select the 'New Student Registration' link and provide the information requested. Upon completion select "Register"
- Next, on the waiver link found under "Submit Waiver" on the waiver Home Page.
- Enter all information and attach the scanned copies of your documents. Click the 'Submit' button.
Once your waiver is submitted and your proof of documents are received by AHP, you will be notified via email within 5-10 business days of your waiver request. If your student account has already been charged, it may take up to 10-14 business days once the waiver has been approved to remove the charges and/or process a refund. If your tuition is due before your waiver application is processed, pay the fee and if your waiver is approved, a refund will be processed through your student account at a later date.
If the alternate health plan does not include medical evacuation and repatriation, a rider must be purchased providing coverage at equal limits to the SSHIP. This can be purchased through AHP.
Waiver Review Deadlines
Fall 2015 - Waiver period begins 05/25/2015; Waiver period ends 09/11/2015.
Spring 2016 - Dates have not been set.
International students with graduate assistantships (GA) are eligible for the employee group coverage. The hiring department will determine if your GA includes the benefit of medical insurance. If your GA includes medical insurance, please be aware this process is handled by the WTAMU personnel services office. Please contact Patti Patterson at 651-2114. You may also visit the personnel services office in Old Main building Room 116. Please make an appointment to meet with Ms. Patterson as soon as you are hired. Students will not be eligible for the employee group coverage for the first 60 days of employment. Please discuss with personnel services what options you have for payment of insurance so you can get immediate coverage and not be charged the student plan.
• Graduate Student Employees – If your assistantship is active fall, spring and summer (year around) and you are currently enrolled in the Graduate Student Health Plan AND will continue the assistantship the following fall, spring and summer semesters or until you graduate, you are not required to apply for a waiver of SSHIP.
• Graduate Student Employees without year around assistantships – If your graduate assistantship is NOT a year around assistantship, Example: Fall only; Spring only; or Fall & Spring assistantship but not summer, there will be a break in your insurance coverage. Having a break in your insurance coverage can be costly (more than the actual insurance premium) if you become ill or are injured. Please call the personnel services office at 651-2114 to speak with Patti Patterson about summer coverage options if you plan to stay in the U.S. over the summer break. You are not required to apply for a waiver of SSHIP as long as your coverage is continuous (including summer) or begins no later than September 1st if you go home for summer.
• New Graduate Student Employees with effective date of coverage after 9/1/15 – If your benefits begin after September 1, 2015 you will be charged the student insurance fee on your tuition and fee billing statement. If it is later determined that you are due a refund, AHP (not WTAMU) will process the refund in the form of a check and mail it to your local address. Refunds are issued at the end of the policy term.
Want to avoid this problem? You might discuss with the personnel service department the option of paying for your insurance from your assistantship pay so the coverage starts on 9/1/15 instead of waiting the for the required 60 state contribution date. The monthly premium cost for the employee is almost always cheaper than being charged the full student premium cost ($846) for the semester and waiting for a refund.
Using Your Benefits
To change your address with BlueCross BlueShield you will need to do the following:
- Notify the ISO of your address change by submitting the Address Change Request Form
- Notify Academic Health Plans via e-mail at support@AHPCare.com.
The e-mail should include:
- First and Last Name
- Identification (ID) Number from your card
- Buff ID (WTAMU Student ID)
- Campus: West Texas A&M University
- Updated address
To Access your benefit information:
- Your BlueCross BlueShield (BCBSTX) ID Card will be mailed to your address on file.
If you do not receive your card by September 30 (fall semester) or February 30 (spring semester) please contact the ISO.
- Create an online account at Blue Access for MembersSM (BAM)
- You will need your Identification (ID) Number (not the same as Buff ID) and Group Number from your card to register. If you do not have this information please call the ISO during business hours and ask to speak with Giselle Alvarado.
- Blue Access for MembersSM (BAM) allows you access to the following:
- Request a new/temporary ID card or print out an Emergency Coverage Letter
- View Coverage
- Access Claims
- Find a doctor, hospital, or pharmacy
- Review your brochure and other resources at AHP-West Texas A&M University
J2 Dependent Insurance
All J2 dependents must have adequate health insurance at all times. The insurance requirements are established by the U.S. Department of State and the federal regulations. See Regulations.
During the transition period, J2 dependents are eligible to purchase the dependent insurance through AHP. Any alternative health insurance coverage must meet all the minimum benefit levels of the J regulations and include maternity and mental health coverage. See the J minimum health insurance coverage.
WTAMU Student Medical Services (On-campus Clinic)
Who's Eligible for Care?
Student Medical Services provides high quality, confidential, holistic health care services to our diverse student population while minimizing costs. We are committed to maintaining the physical and mental well being of our students to enhance educational experience and overall academic success. Dependents and/or spouses of enrolled students are not eligible for services unless enrolled as a student. Faculty and staff of WTAMU are not eligible for services. To schedule an appointment please visit the Student Medical Services website.