To:  Deans, Directors and Department Chairs, University Business Managers

From:  Dwayne Pinkney, CFO and Senior Associate Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration; Brian T. Smith, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Finance; Ken Pittman, Executive Director, Campus Health Services

Re:  Graduate Student Health Insurance Program – Enrollment for 2018-19 and Other Issues

In August 2009, the UNC Board of Governors approved the implementation of a “hard waiver” student health insurance plan on all sixteen 4-year campuses beginning in fall 2010. The term “hard waiver” means any graduate or undergraduate student meeting three specific criteria (enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours if an undergraduate or 1 credit hour if a graduate student, degree-seeking, and eligible to pay the student health fee) is required to show evidence of an existing “creditable coverage” health insurance policy or purchase a creditable insurance policy OR enroll in the UNC system-wide plan.

Graduate students enrolled in the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program (GSHIP), frequently referred to as the RA/TA Health Insurance Plan, must submit an online waiver using their GSHIP insurance at  http://studentbluenc.com/#/uncch or they will be charged $1,311.50 each semester on their University account for the system wide Student Blue insurance plan available to all undergraduate and graduate students.

The UNC Chapel Hill GSHIP plan is a separate insurance plan from the system wide Student Blue insurance plan. Graduate students functioning as Research Assistants (RA), Teaching Assistants (TA), Fellows, or Trainees should continue to be enrolled in the GSHIP plan each semester through their academic program. RA/TA’s should not enroll themselves in the system wide Student Blue insurance plan available to all undergraduates and graduate students.

Due to ongoing state and federal regulatory changes in health care and the insurance marketplace, UNC General Administration has been reviewing all University sponsored health plans system-wide.  Effective with the 2014-2015 plan year, the RA/TA Plan was no longer offered as an employer provided plan and enrollees do not have access to COBRA upon discontinuation of the plan.

Other GSHIP plan benefits remain the same and require fewer out of pocket expenses than the system wide Student Blue insurance plan. The system wide Student Blue insurance plan cannot be substituted for the GSHIP plan.

The insurance program for graduate students is separate from insurance programs for Clinical Fellows, Postdoctoral Trainees, and Postdoctoral Research Associates. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information regarding the 2018-19 enrollment process for the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program as well as other pertinent information. The 2018-19 policy year is from August 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019.

For the 2018-19 policy year the minimum prescribed compensation amount for services that a student must receive is $5,700.00. The premium cost per student for annual coverage during the current policy year under the program, provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, is $3994.92 ($332.91 per month). The Campus Health Fee is $200.08 per semester ($400.15 per academic year) for fiscal year 2018-19.

Please note the following:

For the 2018-19 policy year BCBS will not automatically waive graduate students that are enrolled in the GSHIP insurance. Students must complete an online waiver or be charged for the system wide Student Blue insurance plan.  The fall waiver deadline is September 10, 2018 and the spring waiver deadline is January 31, 2019.

To ensure students receive their GSHIP BCBS policy ID card prior to August 1, the department must enroll their RA/TAs into GSHIP with ample time to receive their cards.  Enrollment must be completed even for those students currently on the GSHIP plan. If enrollments are not received by BCBSNC prior to August 15, 2018, students will receive a HIPAA certificate from BCBSNC stating coverage terminated July 31, 2018.  If they feel they have received the letter in error, they will be directed to their academic program/department for any questions concerning receipt of this letter.

Effective August 1, 2015 retroactive enrollments or terminations exceeding 60 days will no longer be allowed for administrative errors.  Exceptions for extenuating circumstances (delays due to death, hospitalization, etc.) will only be considered.

The following policy, procedures, forms and manual (see links below) provide detailed information about the Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan. Please review all documents.

The information in this memorandum is the result of extensive discussions among academic and administrative departments concerning appropriate procedures and practices for the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program. Your additional comments regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the procedures and practices are most welcome as efforts to improve the program administration.

Please notify the following individuals regarding your questions or comments. Thank you for your continued efforts regarding the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program.

Issue Contact Phone Email
Process Chandrika Rao 919-843-8198 crrao@email.unc.edu
Process Tammy Jorgenson 919-962-7793 jorgenso@email.unc.edu
Process Brett Kenney 919-962-1601 Brett.Kenney@unc.edu
Policy Dwayne Pinkney 919-962-1091 dpinkney@email.unc.edu
Campus Health Services Ken Pittman, Executive Director 919-966-7981 pittmank@email.unc.edu
Campus Health Services Vicki Warwick, Insurance Associate 919-966-6599 vwarwick@email.unc.edu
Office of Sponsored Research Director, Post Award Services & Cash Management 919-962-4676 resadminosr@unc.edu
Online Process (Technical) Jeroen Soeurt 919-962-6036 jeroen@email.unc.edu
BCBSNC Customer Service 800-579-8022 email@studentbluenc.com
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