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Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) provides a comprehensive system of health care for you, your spouse or partner, and dependent children.

There are two major parts to the system, which are charged separately:

  • Student Health Service (SHS) Fees
  • Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan Fees

The Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan works with CUMC Student Health to provide consistent, efficient care that complements the programs offered on campus:

  • Medical Services clinicians are the primary care providers for students enrolled in the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan.
  • Clinicians in both Medical Services and the Mental Health Service work closely with Aetna Student Health Claims Administrators, Inc. when necessary to help arrange access to benefits available through the Columbia Plan.
  • A referral by a Medical Services or Mental Health Services clinician is required when seeking most non-emergency off-campus services. If a referral is not obtained prior to seeking most specialist services, in-network benefits will not be available under the Columbia Plan.

Note: The Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan may not cover all of your health care expenses. The plan excludes coverage for certain services and contains limitations on the amounts it will pay. Please read the Student Health Insurance Plan Brochure carefully before deciding which plan is right for you. While this document will tell you about some of the important features of the Plan, other features may be important to you and some may further limit what the Plan will pay. Aetna compensates Columbia for certain medical services as well as administrative expenses associated with servicing the insurance plan (including certain personnel expenses incurred by the CUMC Student Health Insurance office). In addition, based on aggregate claims experience, Aetna may issue a refund to Columbia to be applied toward future premiums. For more information, please review the Student Health Insurance Plan, which you can access online, or view the Master policy issued to Columbia, available at the CUMC Student Health Insurance Office, or you may contact Aetna Student Health at (800) 859-8471.


The SHS fee is mandated by the Board of Trustees for ALL full-time students at CUMC, as well as for all those who enroll in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan. School of Nursing mandates that ALL clinical nursing students enroll in the Student Health Service, regardless of whether they are full-time OR part-time.

  • The Student Health Service is also an annual plan, although fees are assessed per semester, with a portion of the fee due at the beginning of the fall semester, and the remainder of the fee due at the beginning of the spring semester.
  • If you switch from full-time to part-time during the spring semester, you will still be assessed the spring portion of the SHS fee, and will, of course, be entitled to all SHS services.


The Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan links the on-site resources of the Student Health Service with the specialty consultations and diagnostic resources of the Aetna Network, which is international in scope.

  • Although the insurance premium is charged by semester, enrollment is on an annual basis; students who have enrolled in the fall cannot drop the coverage during the spring semester even if their status switches from full-time to part-time.
  • The open enrollment period is from August 1 - September 30 each year except for students who first join the university in the spring or summer, who may enroll or waive at that time.
  • Students whose status changes from part-time to full-time during the academic year will also be automatically enrolled at that time, but may waive the insurance if they have comparable coverage.
  • Enrollment in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan is automatic for all full-time students. If you have comparable coverage, you may waive.
    • The waiver must be completed each insurance year. The insurance year begins August 15 of each year. If you entered in spring or summer, and waived, you must repeat the waiver again for the fall semester.
  • Part-time students may enroll in AETNA
  • Dual Degree Students: Click here for information on health services and insurance enrollment when your program shifts between the CUMC and Morningside campuses.