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Student Health and Well-Being

  • Close up of pen on a health insurance claim form


Learn about why health insurance is required for all USC Columbia students and information about the only in-network plan for medical and mental health services.

Why the University Requires Insurance 

Every student’s health and well-being are critical components to academic success. Access to medical care promotes student retention and success. Students with insurance stay healthier by using recommended preventive care services that help avoid health issues and often detect medical issues that need attention. The primary purpose of student health insurance is to provide an affordable and comprehensive benefits package, so students have easy access to physical and mental health care and prevention screenings while attending school.  

Over the past two decades, student health issues have grown more complex. Students may come to college with a range of health care needs from minor to extensive. Student health insurance (SHIP) plays a critical role in optimizing student’s choice for health care services. Those who are uninsured have a higher chance of dealing with more severe illnesses that may impact their academic success. Since unexpected sickness is one of the leading factors for family debt, student health insurance is critical to financial wellness. 

You may choose coverage under the SHIP or through another approved plan.  You can enroll in the plan, or you can waive out of the plan by providing proof of insurance coverage at

Proof of Insurance

Proof of insurance coverage must be submitted through the Academic Health Insurance Portal (AHP).  

  • have an effective date of August 1 for the fall term  
  • allow you to receive health care services in South Carolina and include at a minimum:
    • Ambulatory Patient Services
    • Chronic Disease Management
    • Emergency Services
    • Hospitalization
    • Laboratory Services
    • Maternity and Newborn Care
    • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatments (including behavioral health treatment)
    • Prescription Drugs
    • Preventive and Wellness services
    • Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services and Devices
    • Provide unlimited aggregate maximum benefit per policy year per covered person
    • Does not have a pre-existing condition limitation
    • Out-of-pocket limit per policy year that does not exceed $7500 per individual and $15,000 per family 

Plan Benefits must also include:

  • A minimum benefit of $50,000 for medical evacuation and $25,000 for repatriation of remains.
  • Coverage must allow the insured student to receive services in South Carolina, cover the student while in school in the U.S. or on USC-related educational travel and all minimum benefits listed above.

J-1 Exchange Students and J-2 Dependents

Plan Benefits must also meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Part of a group benefits program offered to enrolled students by a designated sponsor.
  • A health maintenance organization (HMO) that is federally qualified as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration (HFCA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • A Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration (HFCA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Underwritten by an insurance company that has an AM Best Company rating, a Insurance Solvency International LTD (ISI) rating, or a Standard and Poor's Claims Paying Ability rating of A- or above.
  • Underwritten by an insurance company that has a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above.

Travel policies will not be accepted.

Student Required to have Health Insurance

  • Undergraduates taking six hours or more and paying the student health fee 
  • Graduate students taking six hours or more 
  • Graduate students with assistantships 
  • USC School of Medicine students enrolled in 1 or more hours 
  • All international students 

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