What your student needs to know about health insurance

Most incoming MIT first-year undergraduates have never given much thought to their healthcare coverage. But here at school, they’ll need to start making certain healthcare decisions on their own. That also means thinking about how things are paid for. This is particularly true for students who have waived MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) coverage and won’t have access to MIT Medical’s in-house referral and claims specialists, who can help with making appointments and resolving billing issues.

Help your student learn to navigate the healthcare system and avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. Here’s what to tell your student:

  1. Carry your insurance card at all times. Students with MIT SHIP coverage should receive a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ID card in the mail during the fall term. Students remaining on a parent’s plan should carry an ID card for that plan. Students do not need to show an insurance card to receive care at MIT Medical, but they will need to provide insurance information if they need to receive care outside of MIT Medical.
  2. Know what’s covered. Some services at MIT Medical—like contact lens fitting — are available to all students at MIT but are covered only for students who have MIT SHIP coverage. If your student has waived MIT SHIP but chooses to receive these services on campus, you will be billed. Your outside insurance may cover these services at MIT Medical, but if not, you could be responsible for the full charge.  
  3. Know how to fill prescriptions. Find a pharmacy that accepts your insurance plan before you need it. When your student is sick and needs to fill a prescription, it’s the last thing any of you should worry about.
  4. Know how to find providers outside of MIT Medical. Students with MIT SHIP coverage can use MIT Medical’s Referral Office to find an appropriate provider and book the first appointment. Our MIT Student Insurance Office  can answer questions about what’s covered and deal with any billing issues that may arise.
    If your student has waived, clinicians at MIT Medical can still recommend outside providers or facilities, but it will be up to the student and family to find out if that provider is part of your insurance company’s network. This is important because out-of-network visits may incur a large deductible or not be covered at all.
  5. Know your insurer’s requirements for care outside of MIT Medical.
    • MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) is a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO (preferred provider organization). It does not require referrals or prior authorizations for services outside of MIT Medical, however, having a referral on file enables your student’s primary care provider at MIT Medical to receive reports from the outside facility, so they can coordinate your student’s care and follow up as needed. Read more.
    • If your student has waived, it’s important to know your insurer’s requirements for obtaining care in the Cambridge area. Some insurers may require a referral from the student’s doctor at home or authorization from the company itself.