Skip to navigation menu

Skip to main content

Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
teachers college logo columbia univertsity logo

Office of International Services

Health Requirements > Health Care and Health Insurance

Health Care and Health Insurance

Obtaining affordable health care is extremely difficult in the United States. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. does not have a nationalized insurance system that cover all individuals.  Rather, in the U.S. there a number of overlapping and alternative systems of public and private health care. International students should keep in mind that the cost of health care in the U.S. - and especially in New York City - is prohibitive.  Even a minor or readily-treatable illness may lead to significant medical expenses.

For this reason, Teachers College requires all full-time students and all students residing in on-campus housing to maintain adequate health insurance, to cover any ongoing or emergency medical procedures. This requirement is for the protection and benefit of the individual student. Failure to have adequate medical insurance may lead to catastrophic consequences for the student's financial and academic situation.
Columbia University Health Service and Health Insurance

Teachers College participates in Columbia's University's two-part health care program.  Columbia University (a) maintains an on-campus health service for students, and (b) offers, through the Chickering Benefit Planning Insurance Company, medical insurance for students and their dependent family members.  

(a) The Columbia University Health Services provides a comprehensive range of services and programs to help students stay healthy and productive during their time at Columbia. Primary care, counseling, women's health, and other medical services are offered free or at a nominal charge to students who have paid the Health Service fee. The CU Health Services is staffed by full-time professionals and part-time specialists. All full-time students and residential students at TC are required to enroll in the Health Services and pay the Health Services fee.

(b) The Chickering insurance plan provides substantial coverage when hospital / emergency care or other services not provided by the Health Service are necessary.  There is both a basic plan that covers most basic medical procedures and a comprehensive plan that offers a greater array of benefits recommended for students with ongoing or extensive medical coverage needs.

If you will be accompanied by any family members, it is imperative that your dependents also have adequate medical insurance. Dependents may be covered under the Chickering plan.

For more information about insurance coverage under the Chickering Plan, go to the web site of TC's Office of Insurance and Immunization Records.
Fees and Waivers: Columbia's Chickering Health Insurance Plan

Columbia's Health Service fee is mandatory for all full-time students and/or all students residing in on-campus housing. This fee cannot be waived.

Columbia's Chickering Health Insurance requirement may be waived if the student provides evidence of alternative medical insurance that meets specific waiver requirements. A student who wishes to waive Chickering's health insurance must submit a waiver request by the specified deadline (usually the first week of the fall semester), by providing evidence of coverage through an acceptable alternative. If the student misses the waiver deadline, or if the alternative plan does not meet the waiver requirements, the student will be automatically enrolled in the Chickering plan.

Teachers College's Office of Insurance and Immunization Records has detailed information available regarding insurance waiver requirements. Please read through all of the information on their web site carefully, including information on insurance plans that have been deemed ineligible for a waiver.
Special Information for J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 Dependents

J-1 students and their J-2 dependents are bound not only by TC policies concerning health care and health insurance, but also by U.S. Department of State regulations which make health insurance coverage mandatory. Please consult Page 2 of your Form DS-2019 for more information regarding J-1 health insurance requirements.

Columbia's Chickering insurance plan meets State Department requirements for J-1 exchange visitors. However, if you are a J-1 student and wish to request a waiver of Columbia's plan, you must obtain health insurance coverage for yourself and your J-2 dependents that meets not only Columbia's waiver requirements but also State Department requirements. Failure to obtain adequate health insurance is considered grounds for termination of J-1 / J-2 status.
Make Health and Wellness Your Priority

Students often disregard the importance of having and maintaining adequate health insurance coverage. However, the OIS strongly urges every student to pay close attention to their health and wellness while at Teachers College. Full-time, intensive study is an often stressful experience, and students would do well not to add unplanned medical bills and expenses to their worries! Students with families are also strongly encouraged to plan ahead before arrival to make sure that they have adequate insurance coverage for all family members.

The OIS also encourages students to take advantage of health and wellness programs offered through Teachers College and through the Columbia University Health Services. Maintaining adequate health and wellness is essential for a successful academic career.
Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: