A Deep Dive into the UW SHIP Student Insurance Plan
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, students can apply for the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) which covers drugs for mental health and mental illness, including treatments for anxiety, depression, sleep and bipolar disorder.
SHIP is designed specifically for UW-Madison students, offering a comprehensive insurance plan that covers additional health care costs incurred at University Health Services (UHS).
“The SHIP office is part of the UHS, and the UHS is an integral part of the SHIP plan model. In most cases, SHIP members use UHS for their primary and preventative care needs – with no cost sharing with members,” said Kelsey Anderson, UHS Communications Manager. “When a SHIP member cannot access UHS or services are unavailable at UHS, the member has access to a nationwide network of providers, including hospital services and specialty care.”
Those eligible for SHIP include U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled in six or three credits for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively. International students (F-1, J-1, H-1, etc.) who hold nonimmigrant status are required to enroll in SHIP unless they qualify for a waiver to opt out , according to SHIP program manager Richard Simpson.
International student experience
Leonie Maurer, a foreign student from Germany, said she cannot withdraw from SHIP, even though she is covered by a private German insurance company in the United States.
“In general, I want to have SHIP [and] being covered and not having to wait for my German insurance company to provide me with certain medical care makes it easier,” she said. “It’s not an unreasonably high amount to pay on top of the insurance I have at home.”
Throughout Maurer’s time on campus, she took a trip to a Madison-area hospital, not affiliated with UHS, for an undisclosed situation.
“I went to the UHS service center and they gave me an appointment, but I needed something more urgent. So I went somewhere else, and [UHS] helped me find other places to go,” Maurer said. “I have never had a health emergency here [in the United States]then [UHS] were very helpful in providing me with information on where to go and how to get there.”
The hospital chose Maurer’s German private insurance provider, but she doesn’t know why they chose it over SHIP.
“They asked me for my insurance, and I said I had SHIP insurance and the one at home that would take care of it, and they chose the one from Germany,” she said. “So I don’t know why they didn’t choose SHIP insurance to be honest, but I guess for me it doesn’t matter because I still have both.”
SHIP rates will change depending on the age of the applicant and the categorization of the student: domestic, international student Where international researcher. There are different plans students can apply for that offer more or less coverage.
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When it comes to medications for mental health, SHIP helps cover a range of treatments. Through the CVS Caremark Advanced Check Form — a subset of drugs covered by the plan — students are able to see which drugs would be available to them at the lowest cost.
According to Jocely Kerl, Pharmacy Benefit Manager for National CooperativeRXa not-for-profit organization that provides pharmaceutical benefits and is utilized by SHIP, generic drugs should be the first line of treatment and the lowest cost to plan and patient.
Kerl also noted that generic drugs are covered as a tier one copay, meaning they would be the lowest cost for SHIP members, while brand name drugs would be covered as a copay. -share level two or three.
Any medications specific to mental health would be listed under Central Nervous System in the formwith level 1 drugs listed in lowercase, italicized font on the list, and levels 2 and 3 listed in uppercase.
“If there is a clinical reason why the medication on the formulary cannot be used for a specific limb, the patient’s prescriber can request an exception to the formulary,” Kerl said.
SHIP and mental health
At UW-Madison, there are many organizations on campus that advocate for mental health awareness. Among them is the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI), a student organization that promotes mental health and combats the stigma of mental illness through support, education and advocacy.
“It is very important that the university provide this financial support to students regarding their mental health,” said NAMI President Katherine Zimmerman. “I think it’s admirable of the university to do this for students and it shows the connection between academic success and good mental health.”
Zimmerman said drugs are only a short-term solution, though it’s great that the UW provides accessibility to drugs for mental health and mental illness.
“Just because you might be able to get the prescription medicine to treat the mental illness you have doesn’t mean you might need extra support through counseling or psychotherapy,” she added.
At UHS, students benefit from group counseling and individual counseling services. According to Zimmerman, mental health services at UW-Madison have come a long way, but there’s always room for improvement.
“Once the university gets to the point where it is able to provide equal support for both biomedical and psychotherapy for mental health and mental illness, then I think that’s a success on the part of from the university and from UHS,” she said.
To enroll in SHIP, students will need to either apply for the open fall enrollment period or spring/summer enrollment depending on their enrollment period. Spring and Summer enrollment will begin December 15 for coverage from January 15, 2023 through August 14, 2023.
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