Health Insurance FAQs

Health insurance may seem irrelevant until you need it. The following basic questions and answers will help you consider its benefits.

Q. Why do I need health insurance?
A. Being uninsured puts you at serious personal financial risk. A single accident or illness could cost thousands of dollars. If you were hindered by a major injury or illness, your studies could be interrupted or ended due to overwhelming medical bills. That's why the University requires that every student be insured.

Q. How does Cardinal Care work?
A. Students combine their purchasing power through Cardinal Care so the plan can negotiate better prices with the insurance company, physicians and hospitals. Costs of infrequent (and expensive) hospitalizations are distributed among many healthy students. This allows Cardinal Care to achieve a balance of comprehensive benefits and choice of providers. It also helps to keep premiums co-payments (the amount you pay when you get care) affordable.

Q. How can I use Cardinal Care most effectively?
A. To get the most value, minimize out-of-pocket expenses and help keep the premium costs down, strive to do the following:

  • Always carry your insurance card with you.
  • Use on-campus medical care and counseling whenever possible. Start with Vaden Health Center and CAPS.  When necessary, obtain a referral to Stanford Medical Center or Menlo Medical Clinic for additional care. Use the Health Net Preferred Provider network for medical care when you're away from campus.
  • For immediate treatment, use Vaden Health Center. See hours.
  • Choose a primary care practitioner (PCP) at Vaden Health Center and rely on him or her for treatment and referrals. A trusted relationship with your clinician results in more individualized care, better advice, fewer tests, and greater satisfaction.
  • Use the Vaden Health Center Pharmacy or other Health Net network pharmacies. Ask for generic prescriptions whenever possible. Avoid brand name and heavily advertised drugs because you’re paying for the advertising.
  • Know your Cardinal Care benefits.

Q. Why doesn't Stanford sponsor dental and vision insurance for students?
A. These services are so frequently used by students that comprehensive coverage costs more than students indicate they can afford. For vision care, Cardinal Care includes one vision exam per year. For dental care, we recommend seeing a discount provider annually (see the list at Vaden Health Center).

Q. What are my options after graduation?
A. Cardinal Care is an annual enrollment plan. If you enroll in Cardinal Care, you are covered through August 31. If you plan to graduate at the end of Autumn or Winter quarter, you may be eligible to leave the plan at the end of the corresponsing coverage period. Contact Vaden's Insurance and Referral Office at (650) 723-2135 for additional information.




Insurance Office

(650) 723-2135
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Hours & Location
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Insurance Staff

Related Resources

Vaden Virtual Health Library

Useful Websites

Medical plan administration

Mental health administration, MHN