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Health & Well-Being

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Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance and the Health Fee

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View an FAQ that has been put together by our staff to help answer your questions. 

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What is the difference between health insurance and the Health Fee? 

The Campus Health Service Fee ('Health Fee') is a mandatory fee charged to (most) registered students. It allows students to access care at or through Vaden Health Center ('Vaden'), the student health facility located on campus. The cost of many of the services provided at or through Vaden is covered under the Health Fee. In general, Primary Care visits and Counseling and Psychological Services visits are covered. These might be in-person visits or telemedicine visits, depending on the circumstances. 

Health insurance is needed to cover those services that are available at Vaden, but aren't provided under the Health Fee (such as most lab tests, radiology interpretations, prescriptions, Physical Therapy, and specialist care, to name a few examples) and/or services that aren't provided at Vaden at all (such as emergency care, hospitalization, etc.). It's VERY important to ensure that the health insurance a student chooses works well in the area(s) in which a student will be located (whether that is at home or in the Stanford area).

Can I request an exemption from paying the Health Fee? 

The Health Fee is a mandatory quarterly fee assessed to enrolled students who have a tuition charge on their account. An exemption to this quarterly fee may be requested by (enrolled) students who are living outside the nine-county Bay Area counties for the entire given quarter and who therefore cannot easily access Vaden Health Center. The Bay Area is defined as Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties. To request an exemption, you must complete and submit the "Vaden Campus Health Service Fee Exemption Request" eForm via Axess. The eForm will require that you answer several questions to confirm eligibility for the exemption. Please note that exemption requests will be considered for the current academic year only. Exemption requests for previous academic years will not be granted for any reason.

What if I study abroad, or at Bing Stanford in Washington? 

While you are enrolled at another Stanford campus, such as through the Bing Overseas Studies Program, Bing Stanford in Washington, you'll be exempted from the Health Fee, even though you may be paying other Stanford fees, such as tuition.

Are there any university resources to help me pay the Health Fee? 

There may be—see below:

  • Some students may qualify for aid with university fees if they pose significant hardship. If applicable to you, the best thing to do is to review the information about your specific situation at  and then contact the Financial Aid Office directly at 650.723.3058 for further assistance.
  • Graduate students with funding from a program, department, or fellowship may be eligible for support. Be sure to consult with your department’s student services administrator.

If I don’t register for classes in Summer Quarter but will be in the area, can I access care at Vaden Health Center? 

If you are not enrolled in/registered for classes in Summer Quarter, you will not be automatically charged the Health Fee. If you want to be seen at Vaden Health Center over the Summer, you may request that the fee be assessed. Submit a Help Ticket to initiate the request via ServiceNow and select the Student Health box and question template: Inquire about the Campus Health Service Fee. The Summer Health Fee period typically runs from the last week of Spring Quarter through August 31. (Note - Vaden providers are not licensed to provide care outside of California, so you must be located in CA to have telehealth services from Vaden providers.)

I am a student with dependent(s). Can dependents access care at Vaden Health Center? 

Dependents of students are not charged the Health Fee and are not eligible for care at Vaden Health Center. However, there are many options for care, both for pediatric and adult needs, in the Stanford area for dependents of students. Dependents who have insurance through the Stanford Student Dependent Care Insurance Plan should access care through a networked Aetna provider to minimize out-of-pocket costs.

I have my own private insurance plan. Will Vaden Health Center bill my private insurance for primary medical care visits? 

No. Vaden Health Center does not bill private insurance carriers for services provided at Vaden. Students with private insurance will be asked to pay at the time of service for any care that is not covered under the Health Fee. Students can request a receipt to submit to private insurance, but there is no guarantee that reimbursement will occur, or that the full amount will be covered. 

I intend to keep Cardinal Care coverage and know I will be traveling away from campus over the year. If I am out of the area and need care, what do I do? 

You can identify an in network Aetna provider by going to this website and selecting the plan OA Elect Choice EPO under the heading Student Health Plans in California. 

For the 2023-2024 plan year, the Cardinal Care insurance plans will be administered by Aetna. You will be able to go to any Aetna participating network provider under Tier 2 of the plan.

What if I need insurance coverage before 9/1? 

The university offers a month of Early Start coverage in Cardinal Care for students who are required to arrive early on campus in August for official university business. Early Start is only available to students who will have Cardinal Care coverage for the upcoming academic year. If you believe you qualify, please contact the Insurance and Referral Office for additional information. (Note - Early Start coverage for August 2023 will be through Health Net, but starting September 1, 2023, coverage will transition to Aetna.)

What are my options after graduation? 

Cardinal Care is an annual enrollment plan. If you choose to remain enrolled in Cardinal Care (instead of waiving the coverage) during your open enrollment period (driven by when you enter the university), you will be covered through August 31 (the summer period is always covered). If you plan to graduate at the end of Autumn or Winter Quarter, you may be eligible for early cancellation of Cardinal Care. You must petition to come out of Cardinal Care if you wish to end coverage before August 31. The petition needs to be submitted no later than December 15 (for Autumn Quarter degree conferral), in which case coverage will end on December 31, or no later than April 15 (for Winter Quarter degree conferral) in which case coverage will end April 30.

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If you have additional questions, please contact the Insurance and Referral Office at the Vaden Health Center at 650.723.2135 or submit a ServiceNow ticket and select 'Student Health'.

FestiFall, 2023. Credit: Micaela Go