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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

Band Run, 2023. Credit: Nikolas Liepins/Ethography

Cardinal Care & Dependent Care Health Insurance for 2024-2025

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Stanford University requires that all registered students carry adequate health insurance. This requirement can be met either through Cardinal Care, the University-sponsored health insurance plan, or through an alternative insurance plan that has comparable benefits.

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2024-2025 Information

Vaden Health Services is pleased to announce information regarding the Cardinal Care Health Insurance Plan and coverage for Stanford student dependents for the 2024-2025 academic year.

  • Aetna Student Health will insure and administer the Cardinal Care medical and mental health programs for 2024-2025.  Aetna PPO Dental will insure and administer the Cardinal Care dental insurance program for 2024-2025.
  • The Cardinal Care Tier 1 in-network providers include Stanford Health Care, Menlo Medical Clinic, and Sutter Health, a network comprised of  24 acute care hospitals and over 200 clinics in Northern California.  Additionally, for 2024-2025, Tier 1 providers have been identified for laboratory services, durable medical equipment, and some rehabilitative services.
  • Alternatively, students have the option of accessing care from any other Aetna provider at the Tier 2 level of coverage.
  • A referral from a Vaden clinician is not required to access Tier 1 medical benefits, however some specialists may request a referral from a Vaden clinician if that specialty is impacted and/or if medical background information is needed to support the visit.  
  • Dependents of new students who choose to have coverage through the university are eligible to enroll in the Dependent Care plan, also administered by Aetna Student Health. The Dependent Care plan is an option for dependents which offers the same comprehensive benefits as Cardinal Care.  
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  • The Cardinal Care premium rate for students will increase by 6.9% for 2024-2025.
  • Rates for dependent coverage will increase by 9.9% for 2024-2025.
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Cardinal Care and Dependent Care 

Cardinal Care, the student health insurance plan, will continue as an annual coverage product in 2024-2025. This means that acknowledgement of enrollment in the plan (or default enrollment in the absence of timely acknowledgement), OR waiver of enrollment, in a student’s first registered quarter of the academic year is a commitment that will extend through August 31. For 2024-2025, the annual premium cost for Cardinal Care, which runs September 1 through August 31, will be $635 monthly ($7,620 annually). 

For 2024-2025 the plan will continue to provide comprehensive benefits (comparable to a 'Platinum' plan through CoveredCA) which include in-network care at Stanford Medical Center, Menlo Medical Center, and Sutter Health.  Dental coverage will continue to be part of the Cardinal Care package of benefits as well. (Diagnostic and preventive care and 'basic' restorative services, up to $1,000 per year, are offered.)

Dependent Care, the student dependent health insurance plan, is open to dependents of students who are enrolled in Cardinal Care. Students may enroll their dependents during a 30-day open-enrollment period at the start of each plan year or when an eligible student dependent experiences a qualifying life event. The monthly premium costs to dependents will increase 9.9% for 2024-2025.  The cost for a student spouse, for example, will be $635.00 for monthly coverage. 

Rates for Other Configurations of Dependents Are Listed in the Following Table

Dependent Care Monthly Premium for 2024-2025

  • Spouse $635.00
  • Child $330.20
  • Children $594.37
  • Spouse + Child $965.20
  • Spouse + Children $1,229.37
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Factors Considered as Part of these Changes

As with prior years, it is important to note that, in general, many factors contribute to health insurance costs for students and their dependents. Among them are plan experience (the actual cost of all services provided in the prior year), trends in usage (how many and what types of services enrollees are using), advances in and new uses of technology, and location(s) where care is occurring. Cardinal Care and the dependent plan have continued to offer access to local, cutting-edge networks of providers and will continue to do so in the coming year.

As part of any plan renewal process, ways to reduce costs, including those that might result from modifications in enrollee behavior (such as the use of "urgent care" services instead of "emergency" services if a situation allows it) are routinely explored. Ultimately, decisions made strive to reflect the combination of cost and coverage that best serves the needs of the University's diverse population.

Additional Information

This overview of Cardinal Care and dependent coverage for 2024-2025 is intended to provide students and their families with key points about the upcoming plan year. As with previous years, new and returning students will be provided with more detailed information about health insurance and costs for 2024-2025 in the annual health publication, Student Health Matters, distributed in the late spring/early summer.

Insurance coverage is subject to applicable state form and rate filing approval and, once approved, to the terms of the Master Policy. Pending approval from the state insurance department, the 2024-25 benefits features and rates described here are preliminary. Should the state require changes, this posting will be updated to reflect them.

Band Run, 2023. Credit: Nikolas Liepins/Ethography