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Cardinal Care & Stanford Student Dependent Health Insurance for 2022-2023

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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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Cardinal Care, administered by Health Net of California, offers the following features:

  • comprehensive, worldwide coverage, including medical and mental health care, hospitalization, emergency care, and most pharmaceuticals
  • services by referral at Stanford Health Care
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Cardinal Care is an annual commitment.

Enrollment in Cardinal Care is an annual commitment, with fees that are charged over three academic quarters (Autumn, Winter, Spring) for the annual period for most students. The full plan year runs September 1 through August 31.

2022-2023 Information

Vaden Health Services has announced the Cardinal Care Health Insurance Plan and Student Dependent Health Insurance Plan (Dependent Plan) rates for the 2022-2023 academic year.

  • The Cardinal Care premium rate will increase by 9.3% for 2022-2023.
  • The Dependent Plan premium rates will increase by 9.9% for 2022-2023.

Stanford's Financial Aid Office assists undergraduates who demonstrate substantial financial need to cover the cost of Cardinal Care. It also administers an automatic university-wide subsidy program for graduate and professional students. As previously announced, for the 2022-23 academic year, subsidy levels will be increasing to 100 percent for those with support equal to a 25 percent assistantship or more, and 50 percent for those with support equal to a 10 percent assistantship or more. The maximum annual family grant for graduate students, designed to provide financial support for individuals with dependent children to help cover expenses such as health care, was increased from $15,000 to $20,000.

Factors contributing to increased cost

Cardinal Care

Cardinal Care, the student health insurance plan administered by Health Net of California, will continue as an annual coverage product in 2022-2023. 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 2022-2023, the annual premium cost for Cardinal Care, which runs September 1 through August 31, will be $6,768 ($564 per month), a 9.3% increase over the 2021-2022 rate.

For 2022-2023, the Complex Radiology copay will be increased from $50 to $100 under Tier 1 of the plan (complex radiology service ordered by a Vaden clinician).  The plan will continue to provide comprehensive benefits (comparable to a 'Platinum' plan through CoveredCA), including in-network care at Stanford Medical Center.  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 through Delta Dental PPO providers.)

Dependent Plan

The Student Dependent Health Insurance Plan (Dependent Plan) is available to dependents of students who are enrolled in Cardinal Care. The monthly premium costs to the dependents will increase 9.9% for 2022-2023.  The cost to a student spouse, for example, will be $517.69 for monthly coverage. Rates for other configurations of dependents are listed in the following table.

Student Dependent Monthly Premium for 2022-2023

  • Spouse $517.69
  • Child $269.20
  • Children $484.57
  • Spouse + Child $786.92
  • Spouse + Children $1,002.23

No changes to plan benefits will occur for 2022-2023. The Stanford Student Dependent Health Insurance Plan enrollment is open to dependents of new students (who are enrolled in Cardinal Care) during a 30-day open-enrollment period that occurs only at the beginning of the student's academic career, or when an eligible student dependent experiences a qualifying life event.

Factors Contributing to Increased Costs

In general, many factors contribute to health insurance costs for students and their dependents. Chief among them are plan experience (the actual cost of all services provided in the prior year), trends in usage (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 continue to offer access to local, cutting-edge networks of providers.

For Cardinal Care, the 2022-2023 rate increase is based on a mix of the factors mentioned above, and while reflecting a lower utilization rate during the pandemic period, we are now seeing increased utilization in part due to deferred care.

For the Dependent Plan, the appreciably smaller size of the enrollee group limits the ability to spread risk (spreading risk across a large population is a phenomenon that helps keep cost down), so utilization is a key driver in cost rise for this population. As with the previous three years, subsidy funding from the university (which served to mitigate an overall increase of roughly 20% in 2018-2019, kept the dependent share of the overall increase to 12.2% in 2019-2020, allowed 0% increase to cost share for dependents in 2020-2021 and a 2% increase in 2021-2022) will again be available, meaning the cost share for dependents will increase by 9.9% for 2022-2023.

As part of the 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, Cardinal Care and the Stanford Student Dependent Health Insurance Plan strive to reflect the combination of cost and coverage that best serves the needs of the university's diverse population.

On a larger scale, the university continues its work to mitigate the serious affordability challenges facing many segments of the university community. Identifying ways in which to navigate these challenges, which go well beyond health care costs, continues to be a priority in the university's Long-Range Planning initiatives.  In January, for example, the university announced several affordability enhancements designed to help Stanford students and their families manage costs such as health insurance.  Starting Sept. 1, 2022, Stanford will provide up to a 100% subsidy for Cardinal Care health insurance for graduate students who are supported on research and teaching assistantships (at 25% level or higher) or fellowships at a comparable level and who are in good academic standing.  Additionally, the Family Grant, designed to provide financial support for individuals with dependent children to help cover expenses such as child care, health care and rent, was increased from $15,000 to $20,000.

Additional Information

This overview of Cardinal Care and the Dependent Plan for 2022-2023 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 2022-2023 in the annual health publication, Student Health Matters, distributed in the late spring/early summer.


Student Health Matters

Vaden Health Center's annual publication for new and returning students. Information about entrance health requirements, the importance of insurance, and how care at Vaden works can be found in its pages.