Study Abroad at UCLA| #3: UCSHIP Insurance

Recently I’ve been getting so many questions about my experiences at UCLA and the processes leading up to it. The process is a stressful one and that’s exactly why I decided to write this blog post in the hopes that it will help at least one person prepare better for their exchange at UCLA. There will be multiple parts to cover as much information as possible.

A little bit of background info to give you an understanding of what shaped my experiences: I am currently a 3rd and final year student at Utrecht University. I belong to USE (Utrecht University School of Economics) and major in Economics and Business Economics, and minor in Law. I went on exchange to UCLA at the beginning of my 3rd year for the fall quarter of 2016-2017, meaning from September 2016 to December 2016 – so a little over 3 months. My courses started on 22nd September but I left for LA about a week earlier to give myself some time to adjust and take care of all the admin stuff before school started (and I’m so glad I did!).

So assuming you got accepted to go to UCLA and you know your UCLA website ID, password, application ID, and your UCLA student ID number – always keep these handy because you don’t know when you will be asked for it. Now let’s continue by answering “What should I do about the UCSHIP health insurance?”.

UCSHIP Health Insurance

UCLA basically forces you to take out their health insurance UCSHIP. UCSHIP is a university provided health insurance plan that is billed quarterly to your BruinBill Account. It is crazy expensive and when I was there it was about $720 per quarter! But they keep raising the price every year so I advise you to check the UCEAP website for the most recent price.

Domestic (American) students often avoid this ridiculous fee by waiving the UCSHIP insurance. They can do this if they already have health insurance (i.e. if they are under their parents’ insurance plan) and meet some other criteria that are listed on the UCSHIP website.

As an international exchange student there is a way to waive the UCSHIP insurance – by buying an insurance from the ISO insurance company. But before I get into how, I want to let you know that personally I chose not to waive the UCSHIP insurance for two reasons:

1) It was too much of a hassle (it is extremely stressful and time consuming)

2) Even if you apply to waive the UCSHIP insurance UCLA ultimately has discretion and can choose to accept or decline. The ISO insurance company has a no-refunds policy. So if UCLA declines your wavier application for whatever reason then you are going to be paying for UCLA health insurance AND the ISO health insurance! – So I decided to play it safe and just pay the UCLA health insurance (it’s hella expensive I know…).

For UCLA I do not know of anyone who tried to waive the UCSHIP using this method and whether or not they were successful. However I have heard that other exchange students were able to waive their university’s (not UCLA) mandatory health insurance using this method.

So if you decide to purchase the ISO insurance to waive the UCSHIP I advise you to ask around and see if the ISO insurance worked for anyone who went to UCLA. Please keep in mind that I do not have a national Dutch health insurance but a private Dutch health insurance with the insurance company AON – although it doesn’t change anything because my AON insurance would have covered all contingencies during my exchange.

Okay so getting on to what the ISO insurance is and how to use it to waive the UCSHIP insurance: The ISO company provides much cheaper alternatives for the mandatory health insurance of American universities. So supposedly this works for many universities all across America and not just UCLA. To purchase this insurance in order to waive the UCSHIP all you have to do is:

  1. Go to their website
  2. Fill out to which American university you will go, and it advises an insurance package that meets the waiver requirements of that university
  3. Choose the cheapest one

If you still have questions regarding UCSHIP feel free to contact me!

*Disclaimer: this information is specific to me and based on my personal experiences. Also the information may be time sensitive so I advise you to check the relevant websites for more updated information.


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