Free benefits with the CU health insurance plan?

Originally Published: September 6, 2013
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Hi Alice,

I just heard about some free benefits for students purchasing the Columbia Student Medical Insurance plan, such as free physical exams yearly, free conterceptive pills, and free removal of wisdom teeth. I am on the basic plan and wish to know if you could give us an overview of other possible free benefits of our plan that I may not be aware of? Thank you! J

Dear J,

You’re right — the services you mentioned and more are available to Columbia University students on the Morningside campus who are enrolled in the Basic (or Comprehensive) Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan (a.k.a, the Columbia Plan). Students on the CUMC campus also have access to similar services, but for a more detailed description, visit the Student Health Service (SHS) Student Insurance Information webpage.

Many Morningside students prefer the Columbia Plan because the benefits are designed to complement the services available on campus and paperwork is often more streamlined. Still, even for those who chose to waive the Columbia Plan, many other comprehensive insurance plans cover the services you mentioned. And now, with the changes triggered by the Affordable Care Act, most insurance providers are required by law to cover many preventive services completely, and cannot legally charge a co-pay or co-insurance. Now, let’s get back to your original question. Here’s just a sampling of services available to students who are enrolled in the Columbia Plan (Basic or Comprehensive):

  • Intrauterine Device (IUD) prescriptions and insertions, available through your campus primary care provider at no charge.
  • Emergency contraception (EC) at no charge, available through your campus primary care provider.
  • Extraction of impacted wisdom teeth at no additional charge.
  • Free or low-cost x-rays, laboratory services, and prescriptions.
  • Students enrolled in the Columbia Plan also have access to the AETNA Vision Discount Program, which provides discounted prices for eye care products, including sunglasses, contact lenses, non-prescription sunglasses, contact lens solutions, and other eye care accessories. More information is available at Columbia’s AETNA Student Health page
  • Students enrolled in the Columbia Plan can opt to participate in the AETNA Advantage Dental Plan, which provides $5.00 co-pay per visit preventive dental care.

But wait, there’s more! In addition to and separate from the Columbia Plan, you have access to many additional services because, if you’re a full-time student, you’ve paid (or will pay) the Columbia Health Service Fee. Whether you’re enrolled in the Columbia Plan or an alternate plan, this is a required fee and gives you access to many amazing services. Here are some services and resources the Health Service Fee covers, with no additional charge to you:

Every Columbia student must have medical insurance. Full-time Morningside students are automatically enrolled into the Basic level of the Columbia Plan, which is provided by AETNA. Any student who has insurance through an employer, parent, spouse, Medicaid, or other means may waive the Columbia Plan if their plan is comparable.

For a complete list of all the services covered by the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan, check out the brochures and frequently asked questions on Columbia Health’s website. It may also help to take some time to peruse the Columbia Health website. If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Columbia’s Insurance Office. If you are a student at the CUMC campus and have questions about your insurance options or benefits, contact the SHS Insurance Customer Service.

Stay healthy and connected on campus!

Alice