SHIP is Boston University’s health insurance plan for students. It is offered through Aetna, a large national health insurer. SHIP may be the best—and most affordable—option for covering your healthcare outside of Student Health Services (SHS).

As required by law, we automatically enroll all full-time, three-quarter time and all international students in SHIP. Boston University has no financial stake in promoting this plan. Your premiums are automatically billed to your student account and included in the total cost of tuition.

SHIP offers three key advantages that make it ideal for a college student who is likely to want high-quality healthcare in the Boston area while keeping out-of-pocket costs as low as possible.

Predictable Costs

If you need to see a doctor, fill a prescription, or go to the emergency room, you’ll pay a fixed dollar amount when you use a network provider. The plan pays the rest. Copays keep your out-of-pocket costs predictable and manageable. For example, if you need to see a behavioral health provider, you will pay just a $10 copay for each visit—and you have unlimited sessions under SHIP.

You may also pay a deductible and coinsurance for certain visits, procedures, and diagnostic tests like x-rays. The plan has fixed coinsurance—generally 20%—but the amount you pay will vary. For example, after you meet your deductible, you’ll pay $20 coinsurance for a $100 lab test, but $40 coinsurance for a $200 visit to the hospital.


You’ll find a wide network of participating providers in Boston. Many are affiliated with Boston University and are just a walk, bus ride, or few T stops away. Search the Preferred Provider Network directory here.


SHIP offers two coverage options: Basic and Plus. Both options are part of Aetna’s nationwide Preferred Provider Network, so even if you’re home for the summer or away from campus and need healthcare, you’ll likely be able to find a nearby network provider. Also, if you want to use an out-of-network provider, the plan will still pay benefits—but your costs will be higher.

All full-time, three-quarter time, and international undergraduate and graduate students are automatically enrolled in SHIP coverage. Part-time students and students enrolled in only online courses may be eligible for SHIP coverage, but will need to enroll.

Depending on your student type, you may be able to waive SHIP coverage if you have other coverage that meets ACA requirements. We urge you to think before you waive as for many students the SHIP plan offers the most comprehensive coverage with the lowest out-of-pocket costs. See Waiving SHIP section below to learn more.

If You Have Dependents:

Dependent coverage is available only through the SHIP Plus option. Eligible dependents include your spouse and dependent children up to age 26.

Full-Year and Fall or Spring-Summer Coverage

Depending on your eligibility, you may elect to have SHIP coverage for the entire year, Fall only, or Spring only, as follows:

Full-Year and Fall-Only Coverage

Most students will be automatically enrolled in full-year SHIP Basic coverage.

Fall-Only Coverage:

Students who meet either of the two following requirements may be eligible to request Fall-only SHIP coverage:

  • If you are enrolled in fewer courses than the three-quarter time or full-time course load, or are not enrolled for the Spring semester, you may submit the Premium Adjustment Request Form.
  • If you’ve been approved for MassHealth or a subsidized health plan through Massachusetts Health Connector prior to January 1, you may submit the Certification of Coverage Form.

Spring-Summer Coverage

If you’re only enrolled for courses during the Spring semester, your coverage will begin on January 1 and continue through the end of the plan year on August 14.

If you’re considering choosing SHIP, you have two options:

  • Basic – generally meets the needs of most students, and is the option in which BU automatically enrolls eligible students.
  • Plus – provides a higher level of coverage for a higher cost, and also offers coverage for dependents.

Both options cover 100% of the cost of eligible preventive care obtained from an in-network provider.

A Closer Look at SHIP

Depending on which SHIP option you choose, your costs will vary. This chart shows what you pay for in-network benefits obtained through the Aetna Preferred Provider Network, in both SHIP options.

*The deductible only applies for certain expenses. See the Plan Design and Benefits Summary to learn more.

For more information about each option, review Aetna’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage for the Basic option and Plus option.

Not Sure Which Option Is Right for You?

Review Your Health Insurance Decision Guide to learn more about SHIP coverage and both options.

Boston University automatically enrolls students in the Basic option. If you are satisfied with this coverage, no action is required. You will automatically be billed for the SHIP premium through your student account. Students upgraded to the PLUS plan are not automatically enrolled in PLUS the following year and can choose to upgrade every year.

However, you must take action by the deadline if you wish to:

  • Elect the Plus option
  • Cover dependents (available only through the SHIP Plus option). Dependent coverage does not carry forward and the dependent enrollment application will need to be submitted every year.
  • Waive SHIP coverage. If you are eligible to waive SHIP below and do so by the deadline, you will not be billed for the SHIP premium. Please see the Waiving SHIP section below for additional information.

See links to Rate and Date sheets below.

Qualifying Life Events

If you personally experience a qualifying life event, you may change your coverage after the deadline. However, you must provide documentation within 30 days of the event in order to add SHIP coverage.

Qualifying life events include:

  • Changes to your parent’s or spouse’s plan
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Aging out of coverage provided by a parent’s plan
  • Loss of a job

Rates and Enrollment

Your SHIP coverage rates depend upon your school and program. Read on to find your Student Rate and Date Sheet, which also contains your coverage period.

Are you a graduate student who receives a trainee stipend or research/teaching income? Read the SHIP FAQ’s to learn about the health insurance credit.

Charles River Campus (CRC)

Review the Plan Guide for your school and campus.

Medical Campus (MED)

Review the Plan Guide for your school and campus.

If you’ve reviewed Your Health Insurance Decision Guide and decided SHIP is not for you, you may be able to waive coverage. However, international students may only waive coverage if they are enrolled under a US-based plan that meets the comparable coverage requirements.

Am I Eligible to Waive SHIP Coverage?

If you have other coverage available, such as through a parent’s plan, you may be eligible to waive SHIP coverage. If you do so by the deadline, you will not be charged the SHIP premium.

To be eligible to waive SHIP coverage, you must:

  • Be enrolled under a US-based plan that meets the comparable coverage requirements. Use the checklist below to determine comparability.

Please see the Changing Your Automatic SHIP Enrollment section for more detailed instructions for waiving SHIP.

Comparable Coverage Checklist

Please download the Comparable Coverage Checklist to compare your current coverage to the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

*Required services (as listed in the above checklist) must be provided at a location within a reasonable distance of the greater Boston area. Health plans with a closed network of providers and accessible for only emergency services, such as out-of-area HMOs, EPOs, or Medicaid products, generally are not acceptable.

Note: You are responsible for determining whether your current coverage meets ACA requirements. However, if Boston University becomes aware that your current plan doesn’t meet ACA criteria, Boston University may decline your request for a waiver.

Insurance Cost Worksheet

Estimate your costs for commonly needed healthcare services under the SHIP Basic option and your current coverage using the Insurance Cost Worksheet.

Think Before You Waive

Even if your current coverage meets ACA requirements, SHIP may be a more affordable and convenient option. Read Your Health Insurance Decision Guide to make an informed decision about the coverage that is best for you.

How to Waive SHIP

You must waive your SHIP coverage by the date listed in your Rate and Date Sheet. If you decide to waive coverage, you must do so by September 30.

Charles River Campus (CRC)

Locate the Plan Guidefor your school and campus.

Medical Campus (MED)

Locate the Plan Guidefor your school and campus.

Complete the comparable coverage checklist under the Waiving SHIP section of this page.

Follow these simple instructions to apply for the enrollment waiver:

  • If your current plan meets all of the requirements on the comparable coverage checklist, you can submit your waiver on the Student Link.
  • Select “Medical Insurance Status – Confirm/Waive” and complete the waiver form.
  • Receive confirmation of enrollment waiver.
  • You’ll see the SHIP premium credited to your student account immediately.

You may elect to change your SHIP coverage, either before the enrollment deadline or mid-year, if you experience a qualifying life event (see Rates and Enrollment above).

Find all the information you need here in order to make an informed decision about SHIP, and to use your coverage well.

SHIP Resources

Aetna Plan Documents

Aetna Claim Forms

Other Contact Information

Student Health Services (SHS)
Phone: 617-353-3575

Student Accounting Services
Phone: 617-353-2264

Aetna Student Health
Phone: 800-966-7772

Aetna DocFind® (Provider Finder)
Phone: 800-966-7772

Aetna Insurance Card (Print Your ID Card)
Phone: 800-966-7772

Still Have Questions?

When you enroll in SHIP, Insurance Coordinator Karen Goyette serves as your own personal, on-campus advocate for all health insurance-related matters. You can send a message to Karen regarding health insurance-related matters, billing questions, or to schedule an appointment. Simply access the Patient Connect portal, select “Messages,” and the “Insurance” messaging option.