Health Insurance FAQ

For many questions about health-related issues at BU you can visit the website of Student Health Services . For healthcare, you can also visit Student Health Services in person. It is best to schedule an appointment ahead of time on Patient Connect or call ahead to schedule an appointment.

BU Student Health Insurance

  •  The basics: If you’re unsure of how to navigate health insurance options or want additional information about how health insurance operates, Aetna provides two interactive websites and videos to understand concepts like copays, co-insurance, and more. CoverU provides a step-by-step interactive guide to understanding how health insurance would work for you. Aetna also provides a short video describing an Introduction to Health Insurance in the US for international students.
  • Who Gets Signed Up – As mentioned in the Student Health Services website Massachusetts law requires that all full-time students and students who participate in at least 75% of the full-time curriculum must have medical insurance. Boston University has made arrangements with Aetna to provide two options for student health insurance: BASIC and PLUS plans. According to Student Accounting policy (described here), many students are AUTOMATICALLY enrolled in the Student BASIC plan.
    • If a student is automatically enrolled, they can waive the coverage by providing proof that they otherwise satisfy the law’s requirement of being covered by health insurance, and the charge for the BASIC plan will be removed from their student account. Further details on waiving the health insurance are also available on the Student Accounting Services page. Students who would like to enroll in the PLUS plan must elect to do so using the Student Link before the deadline (it changes annually but check Student Accounting’s webpage). Once selected by the semester deadline, the students’ account will be charged for the higher premium.
    • How to decide: BU SHS offers information about the differences between BASIC and PLUS plans, including how to decide between the plan options. They also provide an FAQ document for additional information. These documents should be updated annually, but the plan is still administered by Aetna. So if you want to be sure you’re getting the most relevant information, be sure to look at Aetna’s Plan Information website to review current plan documents.
  • Who Gets it Paid For and How Much – Teaching Fellows and Research Assistants who do not waive the insurance coverage AND receive a grant worth $5000 or more per semester receive credit towards their student account for the full amount of the BASIC plan according to Student Accounting. Be sure to contact your department’s Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to be sure this applies to your situation since it needs to be approved by GRS. The credit is dispersed in halves–one half in the fall semester and another half of the premium for the BASIC plan in the spring semester–when the student qualifies for this option.
    • Students eligible for insurance credit choosing to enroll in the PLUS plan rather than the BASIC plan will still receive credit for the amount of the BASIC plan premium. The student will need to pay the difference between premiums.
    • Since your student account is charged for the full cost of the insurance plan at the beginning of the fall, if you anticipate being paid at least $5000 per semester you will end up carrying a balance of half of the BASIC plan premium between semesters. If half of the BASIC plan premium is the only balance on your student account you should NOT have to pay a late fee. (If you’re charged a late fee unnecessarily, contact your department’s administrator to see how to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.)
    • If you opted in to the PLUS plan then you WILL need to pay the full difference between the yearly premiums for PLUS vs BASIC before the fall semester deadline. If you have other charges on your account, when added to half of the BASIC plan premium they may exceed the allowable balance to carry between semesters and you may be charged a late fee.
  • Waiving coverage or upgrading coverage is done through the Student Link. (Under the “Money Matters” tab, click on “Medical Insurance.”)

Additional web resources

  • Aetna Student Health page Look here for information about how to use your health insurance plan, information relating to prescriptions (which pharmacies near you are in-network and how to get reimbursed if the pharmacy charges you more than your coverage indicates they should), information about coverage provided while you are traveling, printing your ID card, and a tool for finding in-network doctors, hospitals, or pharmacies. They also provide information about understanding “explanation of benefits” forms, which you receive after the insurance is billed for health care. This site is most easily navigated using their menu on the left hand side of the page.
  • Aetna Member Website – If you are enrolled in an Aetna-provided health insurance, you can create an account here. This page gives you access to your claim and benefits history, an option to turn on paperless communication, a page to request a medical ID card replacement, capability to update your profile with them, and a tool to estimate the costs of care. As a bonus, you get access to a few “health programs.”

Other Medical Insurance Options and BU Dental Options

  • Commonwealth Connector – From their website: “The Health Connector is an independent state agency that helps Massachusetts residents find health care coverage.” You can apply for dental or other health insurance benefits separately from or in addition to your BU student health insurance through the Commonwealth Connector. The benefits you sign up for there will be billed directly to you and not tied to your enrollment status.
  • Aetna’s Dental Discount Plan – Pay a small fee for the Discount plan, which then allows you to get reduced rates with some dentists. More information can be found on a separate page, but that page is not where you sign up. This is no longer a program of our health insurance, but something anyone can sign up for, so there’s no particular reason to go through Aetna rather than another dental discount plan.
  • BU Student Dental Plan – The BU School of Dental Medicine offers a student discount plan that provides 10% off the Dental School’s already low rates (around $75 for a cleaning as of 2019). They are performed by BU dental students in their later years of dental school. All of their treatment plans are checked and approved by the instructors before they begin, at steps during the procedure, and at the end. The previous iteration of this plan was favored by some students and found lacking by others, as detailed in the results of the 2012 healthcare survey (pages 11-12, 17, and 40-42).
  • Alumni Associations of which you are a member – Some alumni associations provide various types of insurance options, including medical insurance. Check with your alma mater(s).