Cornell Requirements

Cornell's health insurance requirements

Access to health care and adequate health insurance are essential to your health, and to your ability to achieve your goals at Cornell. That's why in 1974 Cornell's Board of Trustees instituted a university policy requiring all students to have quality health insurance.

Cornell's criteria for quality health insurance are designed to ensure that all students have access to professional, timely, confidential, and affordable medical and mental health care, and are protected against costs that could undermine their education or financial or personal well-being.

Requirements for 2020-2021

All full-time registered students* must have health insurance that ...

  1. is provided by a company licensed to do business in the United States, with a U.S. claims payment office and a U.S. phone number
  2. has unlimited annual and lifetime benefits (i.e., no policy maximum)
  3. will be in force for the duration of the academic year, or until their program ends
  4. provides “Federal bronze level” 40% coinsurance (meaning the plan pays 60%) or better coverage for health care where the student is attending school (Ithaca** or elsewhere) 
     Coverage must include: 
      – Inpatient Care
      – Emergency Care
      – Urgent Care
      – Specialty Care
      – Diagnostic Imaging and Testing
      – Outpatient Mental Health Care
  5. is NOT…
      – a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan without an “away from home” rider
      – an out-of-state Medicaid plan
      – a catastrophic ("young invincible") plan

Want to understand these requirements better? Visit Insurance Requirements Details

*These requirements do not apply to part-time students and non-degree students. Summer students and Continuing Education students have different requirements.

**Ithaca-based students are encouraged to have in-network coverage at Cayuga Medical Center (CMC), which is the only provider of hospital-based services accessible by public transportation in Tompkins County (see insurance plans that CMC participates with). 

    Annual SHP enrollment / waiver process

    Automatic SHP enrollment: To ensure that students have health insurance that meets the requirements above, full-time academic-year students are automatically enrolled in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP) each year. SHP is a platinum-level plan that meets or exceeds the university's health insurance requirements.

    Waiving SHP: Eligible student who have alternate health insurance that meets Cornell's requirements may apply to waive their SHP enrollment. Students who retain their own insurance must submit a waiver application annually.

        Exceptions: 

    Student Health Fee (Ithaca students only): Ithaca students who are not enrolled in a Cornell student health plan (SHP or SHP+) pay a Student Health Fee, giving them the same pre-paid access to care at Cornell Health as SHP members have (most visits / services have a $10 visit copay).

    Insurance requirements for distance-learning students

    Students participating in online-only learning away from campus this fall are required to have insurance that meets Cornell’s requirements.

    However, for Fall 2020, exceptions were made to allow some distance-learning students to apply for a temporary waiver until their in-person studies resume. 

    In August, our Student Health Benefits team contacted all distance-learning domestic students who had a waiver application denied because their insurance didn't provide appropriate coverage in Ithaca, as well as students studying outside of the US, to offer them the opportunity to apply for a temporary waiver. The deadline to apply was August 28.

    If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at studentbenefits@cornell.edu

    Information just for you

    Please visit the following pages to find population-specific requirements and options: