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).
We automatically enroll all students who are legally required to have health insurance in SHIP. This includes all full-time, three-quarter time and all international students. Boston University has no financial stake in promoting this plan. Your premiums are automatically billed to your student account and included in the balance due annually, unless an online waiver is submitted by the waiver deadline each plan year.
Premium rates can vary depending on your program length. The standard annual rate for the 2023-2024 year for the Basic plan is $3,280 and the Plus plan is $4,403.
FAQs for Students Enrolled in SHIP
What type of health insurance do I have?
The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) Aetna Student Health is offered through Aetna, a large national health insurer.
What are my coverage dates?
SHIP (Aetna) coverage for most students begins 8/15 and ends 8/14 each year. If you attend the Medical Campus, contact your program administrator to learn more about your rates and coverage dates.
How do I receive my insurance card?
You will not receive a physical health insurance card. You can easily access your health insurance information and view or print your insurance card online at bu.edu/shs/shipcard or at Aetnastudenthealth.com by viewing the Benefits Plan Design Summary.
Will I be charged for visits to SHS?
Services at SHS are available for no additional charge for students enrolled in SHIP. SHIP, along with your student health and wellness fee, covers all services at SHS including: primary care and mental health visits, physical exams, lab work, immunizations, some orthopedic devices, support for interpersonal violence (SARP), assessment and brief treatment for students struggling with substance use, and more.
Please note: Services performed outside of SHS will incur an additional cost. View a full list of your benefits in the Student Health Insurance guide.
What will I be charged for visits outside of SHS, including medications?
Medications will have a copay. The copay price depends on the type of medication. Charges for visits outside of SHS will vary depending on if you have in or out of network care. After deductible charges can include copay and/or coinsurance. For detailed benefit information visit aetnastudenthealth.com and view the Benefits and Plan Design Summary.
I still have questions, who can I contact?
If you still have questions, please review the Student Health Insurance guide.
You can speak directly with the SHS Insurance Department in the following ways:
- Send a secure message through patientconnect.bu.edu. Choose Message > New Message > Insurance and Billing
- Send an email to email@example.com.
- Call us: 617-353-3579 (direct line) or call 617-353-3575 and choose option 3.
- Schedule an appointment to speak with an insurance specialist through patientconnect.bu.edu.
- Choose Appointments > Insurance and Billing
You can call Aetna Student Health directly at 800-966-7772 or visit their website: aetnastudenthealth.com.
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.
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, but the amount you pay will vary.
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.
You also have access to Teladoc, an online health platform that provides 24/7 access to licensed doctors by phone or video. Students with SHIP can use this service for urgent primary care or behavioral medicine concerns whenever they arise. Learn more.
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 all international students are automatically enrolled in SHIP coverage. Part-time students may be eligible for SHIP coverage but will need to enroll. Students who are utilizing the Learn from Anywhere (LfA) platform to engage remotely in courses that would normally meet on campus are eligible for SHIP. Online only students are not eligible for SHIP.
Depending on your insurance, you may be able to waive SHIP if you have other coverage that meets ACA requirements. We urge you to think before you waive SHIP. 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. For more information about enrolling dependents, please visit the Dependent Coverage page on the Student Accounting Services website.
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-Summer only, as follows:
Students will automatically be enrolled in full-year SHIP coverage and are not eligible to withdraw from coverage outside of the open enrollment period.
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.
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.
A Closer Look at SHIP
Depending on which SHIP option you choose, your costs will vary. Review page 10 of the Student Health Insurance Guide to see the costs for in-network benefits obtained through the Aetna Preferred Provider Network.
Not Sure Which Option Is Right for You?
Check out the Aetna Plan Design and Benefits Summary and review detailed information under Plan Documents and Benefits for the specified year.
Rates and Enrollment
Boston University automatically enrolls all students who are legally required to have health insurance in SHIP. Most students will automatically be enrolled in the Basic option. If you are satisfied with this coverage, no action is required. You will be billed for the SHIP premium through your student account. Students who upgrade to the Plus plan are not automatically enrolled in Plus the following year and must 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.
Qualifying Life Events
If you are not enrolled in SHIP and experience a qualifying life event, you may be eligible to enroll in SHIP. However, you must provide documentation within 31 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 coverage under another health plan
(examples: loss of a job, divorce, exceeding dependent age limit of
Rates and Enrollment
Your SHIP coverage rates depend upon your school and program.
Review the Aetna Plan Design and Benefits Summary for detailed information under Plan Documents and Benefits for the specified year, school and campus.
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.
Premium rates can vary depending on your program length. The standard annual rate for the Basic plan is $3,280 and the Plus plan is $4,403.
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 in a plan underwritten in the US 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 in a plan underwritten in the US 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.
Note: The waiver does not carry forward and must be submitted every year.
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.
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
If you decide to waive coverage, the Fall waiver must be submitted by September 20. If you are entering in the Spring, the waiver must be completed by January 31.
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 access the waiver through the MyBU portal by selecting My Bill & Aid, then Waive/Accept SHIP.
- During the process you will be redirected to the website of our partner, Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk, to complete your waiver.
- If your waiver is approved, the credit will be applied to the student account within 1-2 business days.
Changing Your Automatic SHIP Enrollment
To upgrade to the plus plan visit the MyBU portal and select My Bill & Aid, Waive/Accept SHIP, Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) -Confirm/Waive, Change to the Student Plus Plan, then confirm the selection on the next screen.
If you experience a qualifying life event after Open Enrollment, you may be eligible to enroll in SHIP. For more information, visit Boston University’s Student Accounting Services website.
Does my Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) cover care for COVID-19?
SHIP will provide coverage for medically necessary emergency department inpatient, and cognitive rehabilitation services for COVID-19 treatment, including professional, diagnostic, or laboratory services, in accordance with MA DPH and CDC guidelines.
SHIP will also cover the cost of over the counter COVID-19 tests. Learn more.
Please refer to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website for specific information regarding insurance. For more information regarding SHIP benefits, contact Aetna at (800) 966-7772.
For questions regarding health insurance-related matters and billing, you can contact SHS through Patient Connect. Select “Messages,” and the “Insurance” messaging option.
Plan Documents and Other Resources
Find all the information you need here in order to make an informed decision about SHIP, and to use your coverage well.
Aetna Plan Documents
Aetna Claim Forms
Other Contact Information
Student Health Services (SHS)
Phone: 617-353-3579 (Insurance Line)
Student Accounting Services
Aetna Student Health
Aetna Provider Directory (Provider Search)
Aetna Insurance Card (Print Your ID Card)
Still Have Questions?
When you enroll in SHIP, our on-campus insurance advocates are available to assist with all SHIP-related matters. For questions regarding health insurance-related matters, billing, or to schedule an appointment simply access the Patient Connect portal, select “Messages,” and the “Insurance” messaging option.