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FAQs

Immunizations FAQs

Teachers College, as mandated by New York State Public Health Law, requires that students born on or after January 1, 1957 provide proof of immunity to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella before initial registration. All students are also required to document a decision regarding the meningococcal meningitis vaccine. Failure to comply with the requirements will result in a hold on the student's record and will prevent students from registering for the upcoming semester.

Yes, you may e-mail your questions to health-immunization@tc.edu. We usually respond within 1-2 business days.

Immunization documentation is processed in the order in which it is received. An email will be sent to your TC Gmail once your documentation has been reviewed. You will be advised if you need to provide additional information, inoculations, or if you are fully compliant. You can also check your compliance status in the Admitted Student Website upon logging-in.

For a full explanation of the ways to submit your records, please click HERE.

Proof of MMR immunity may be demonstrated by any of the following ways.

Immunization records and meningitis response are due by the first day of classes of the term in which the student begins enrollment (Students moving into the the residence halls have to submit their records before they move in).  The specific dates for the beginning of each term are available here on the Academic Calendar website.  

Vaccination Locations:

Medical Services at Columbia Health: (212) 854-7426
John Jay Hall, 4th Floor, 114th & Amsterdam
Call to make an appointment.

MMR vaccinations are free for students who have paid the Columbia Health Program fee at this location, and Meningitis immunizations for college students are available for a nominal rate.

MMR immunization for college students is also available for FREE at:

Fort Green HealthCenter: (718) 643-3767
295 Flatbush Avenue Extension between Willoughby Street and Albee Square
Monday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m

Tremont Health Center: (718) 960-0349
1826 Arthur Ave. - 1st floor, Bronx, NY, 10457
(between Cross Bronx Expressway & Tremont Ave.)
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday:  8:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Corona Health Center: (718) 476-7645
34-33 Junction Boulevard - 3rd floor, Queens, NY, 11372
(between 34th Ave. & 34th Road)
Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Click here for NYC Department of Health Immunization Walk-in Clinics.

For more information please visit the New York City Bureau of Immunization website.

We recommend that you visit your local physician and request a blood test known as a Titer. This test determines your immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. If you are not immune, you should get vaccinated before you arrive on campus. Your physician should complete the university's immunization form for submission.

We will review the documentation to see if you meet the New York State requirements. Please include the day, month, year, and dose administered. Documentation must include physician or other health care provider's signature and stamp. Please complete the top portion of the university's form and attach the supporting documentation to it.

No. Please have immunization documents translated and notarized before submission.

Immunization forms can be found online at here. Students should complete the top portion of the form. Once the physician or health care provider has completed Section A OR Section B, we recommend that you make a copy for your records before submitting proof of immunity.

Yes, there are two ways to document and request exemption from the immunization requirement.

  1. Medical Exemption: You may provide the Office of Insurance & Immunization Records with a letter from your physician requesting a medical exemption from further immunization. You will then be notified in writing if either a temporary or permanent exemption has been granted. If a temporary exemption is given, you will be expected to complete the requirement at the exemption's expiration.
  2. Religious Exemption: Most religious groups which object to immunizations will provide you with a standard form indicating the objection. You may also submit a letter from your congregation explaining the religious basis of your objection. To determine what documentation you must provide, you may email your question to health-immunization@tc.edu or visit the Insurance and Immunization Records Office in 159 Thorndike Hall. The office is open Monday to Thursdays from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm and on Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

If you cannot provide documentation, we recommend that you take a blood test known as a titer to determine your immunity. If you are immune then you will not need to take additional action. If not, you will be notified by email of the inoculations you will need to become compliant.

Health Services does not provide individual Measles shots, but they can provide you with the MMR booster shot, by appointment.  The cost of the vaccine and appointment vary based on Health Services enrollment.

If you submitted documentation of immunity, and still received an email regarding your partial or non-compliant status, it is likely that the information does not fulfill all of New York State's requirements. Many students who have received a single dose of either the Measles or MMR vaccine are unaware that the NY STATE PUBLIC HEALTH LAW REQUIRES TWO DOSES OF THE MEASLES VACCINE. Students in this category must obtain a second dose of the MMR vaccine to be fully compliant. Health Services offers the MMR booster shot by appointment at the cost of $50 or for free if you have paid the Columbia Health Fee. If you are not sure why you are not compliant, you may contact us at health-immunization@tc.edu or at (212) 678-3006.

You are not compliant by New York State standards without the second measles shot. We will place a 'hold' on your future registration if you fail to get the second measles inoculation. Please remember to provide the documentation of your second measles shot to the staff in the Office of Insurance and Immunization Records in 159 Thorndike Hall so that your records are accurately updated.

As of February 2015, you may access your Immunization Records through the myTC Portal by following the directions below.

Step 1: After logging into my.tc.edu, click the “TC Services” tab at the top of the page.

Step 2: Click “Student Records” at the bottom of the page, under “Enrollment & Student Services.”

Step 3: On the next page, click “View Immunization Records.”

Step 4: Again, click “View Immunization Records.”

Step 5: A new tab will open with your records.  You may need to make sure you do not have a pop up blocker enabled.

Step 6: Print this page of the browser for a hard copy, or opt to save it as a PDF.  

 

Students are provided with a report, on Teachers College letterhead, that confirms the student has submitted his or her Meningitis decision and/or MMR immunization records, along with the dates of immunizations.

 

Tutorial

 

Students who do not have access to their myTC account must fill out an Immunization Record Release Form which is available in our office at 159 Thorndike Hall. Students can opt to either pick up the immunization report in person, have it mailed to them or a third party, or have it faxed to them or a third party. You are asked to provide your TC I.D., address, phone number, and signature.

Insurance FAQs

If you are living in the residence halls and/or taking 12 billable credits, and/or International student you will automatically be enrolled in Columbia Student Health Insurance. If neither applies to you, you may enroll via the link found on the myTC Portal. For instructions on how to enroll please refer to our How to Enroll page.

New International Student Insurance

Navigating the US Health Care System can be complex.  To help ensure that our international students have access to the highest quality of care on- and off-campus Teachers College-Columbia University requires all international students to enroll in the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan.

 

The Frequently Asked Questions below address the nature of this requirement along with information on how to enroll and access care (on- and off-campus).

 

Please take time to read this document carefully and, as always, you are encouraged to contact Insurance & Immunization Records with any questions. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Why is enrollment in the plan mandatory for international students?

Many international students have struggled with inadequate health insurance that resulted in catastrophic health outcomes and extraordinary costs, which can lead to lower levels of academic success, and difficulties with retention.  The lack of adequate coverage has introduced unexpected barriers to achieving academic and scholarly pursuits.

 

Despite past efforts of Admissions, Insurance & Immunization Records, and Columbia Health to provide clear information to incoming students, we have found that international students are frequently targeted by companies offering lower rates for supposedly equivalent, but actually sub-standard, plans. Many international students are unfamiliar with the US Health Care System and try to access care using these limited non-Columbia Plans.

 

This requirement reinforces Columbia’s commitment to protecting the health of the student community through on-site access to high-quality health services and provision of insurance coverage to supplement on-campus resources as necessary. 

 

When does this take effect?

This requirement is effective beginning the 2017-18 academic year.  The plan starts August 15, 2017 and runs through August 14, 2018.

 

How do I enroll in the required plan?

Upon registering for classes, your myTC e-bill is automatically charged for the Columbia Health Fee and the Insurance Premium. You will receive an email informing you of your enrollment in the Gold plan and information on how to upgrade to the Platinum plan.  Do not ignore this message.  Failure to respond prior to the deadline will result in Columbia defaulting you into the Gold plan and you will not have the option to make changes.

 

Are there any exceptions?

Exceptions may be granted under rare circumstances to international students who are covered by a U.S.-based, employer-sponsored, group health plan (as a primary, spouse, or dependent) or students that are short term visitors to campus. Please contact Insurance & Immunization Records for more details. These requests are reviewed on a case by case basis.

 

Why were international students allowed to waive in the past?

Previously, international students who requested waivers with plans that met the waiver criteria were permitted to waive the Columbia Plan.  Audits of these waivers revealed that many of these plans appeared to meet the criteria on the surface, but did not actually fully meet the criteria, thus providing inadequate coverage. 

 

Can I still go to Medical Services or Mental Health Services on campus?

Yes!  The Columbia Plan works with the on-campus services.  Your care begins on-campus and you will be provided a referral for any off-campus services.

 

Are there health care providers that speak my language?

Yes!  The Aetna network has providers that speak many languages.  You can search for a provider that speaks your preferred language using the Doc Find feature on the Aetna Student Health website

 

What if I need health care when I am not in New York or am traveling outside the US?

In addition to comprehensive coverage within the United States, the Columbia Plan provides global coverage, giving you access both locally as well as while traveling.  This benefit is unique to the Columbia Plan and designed specifically to support our students.  We encourage you to learn more about this benefit as well as how the plan will support your health and well-being while studying at Columbia.  Contact Insurance & Immunization Records to discuss the specifics of using your coverage outside of New York.

 

Why are part-time students being subject to this requirement?

Unlike domestic part-time students, international part-time students are often focused solely on their studies and are not working in positions that provide health insurance.  As a result, part-time international students are not likely to have the level of coverage that truly supports their potential health needs while at Columbia.

 

I’m graduating in December.  Do I have to pay for the full year?

No.  Premiums are billed by semester so if you graduate in December you will only be charged for the fall term and your coverage will end on December 31, 2017.

 

Does Teachers College - Columbia University benefit financially from these changes?

No.  Teachers College - Columbia University does not keep the health insurance premiums.  The University collects the premium and then sends it to Aetna, the insurance provider.  We use this system, as it better allows students to pay for health insurance using available financial aid options.

 

I have more questions.  With whom can I speak?

Please contact Insurance & Immunization Records.

 

Insurance & Immunization Records

Office of Student Affairs | 159 Thorndike

Teachers College | Columbia University

525 West 120th Street

Box 308

New York, NY 10027
P: 212.678.3006
F: 212.678.3681
E: health-immunization@tc.edu
http://www.tc.edu/health

 

Domestic students may only petition to waive Columbia Student Health Insurance if you have an alternative comparable insurance. Please refer to the criteria for the alternative comparable insurance here. If you meet the criteria, you will be able to petition to waive through a link on the MyTC portal. Once you have filled in your information on MyTC portal, you will only hear from our office if you have missing information (e.g. need a picture of your insurance card, copy of benefits, etc.) or if your plan is found to not be comparable. 

Please note that the Columbia Health Fee cannot be waived under any circumstances. For more information on the Columbia Health Fee, please refer to the related FAQ below.

Yes. Waivers are only valid for one full academic year (September - August).

Should your alternative coverage extend past one full academic year, you will have to fill out the information on MyTC portal again. 

No. You cannot have the Columbia Student Health Insurance without the Columbia Health Fee. Due to the structure of the Columbia Student Health Insurance, your primary care physicians are covered through the Columbia Health Fee. As the plan is a referral-based policy, all visits must go through Columbia Health first. 

The period of coverage extends from August 15 - August 14 each year. For more information, please refer to our Period of Coverage and Health Fees page. 

Unfortunately, once you enroll in the Columbia Student Health Insurance, you will no longer be able to use your current primary care physician. However, you will be able to choose a new primary care physician within Columbia Health. 

DENTAL INFORMATION
Columbia Student Health Insurance includes one cleaning and set of x-rays per academic year at these participating locations. Please contact them for an appointment. A $20 copay will be requested at the time of visit. 

VISION INFORMATION
We offer a Vision One Discount Program that offers discounts on optics (prescription and non-prescription). For more information please refer to our Vision Care page.

The Columbia Health Fee is in place so that students have easy access to a physician, nutritionist, and a psychological counselor, for a per semester fee (Fall and Spring). This fee is mandatory for all full-time students (12 billable credits) or students living in the residence halls, or International students at Teachers College and may not be waived. Full-time students who waive the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan are still required to pay the Columbia Health Fee and are automatically enrolled. 


For elligible part-time students, the Columbia Health Fee is not required. If you would like to opt into the Columbia Health Fee to have access to these great benefits that is an option for you. Please contact our office for the appropriate enrollment form.

One of our efforts is to increase information access as well as support the Columbia University Environmental Stewardship Plans.  As part of these strategies Aetna will no longer automatically mail insurance cards.  We are encouraging students to add the Aetna Navigator function to their phone for 24/7 digital access to their insurance cards.  Students will also be able to print a copy of their insurance card 24/7 using the Aetna Navigator website and will also have the option to call Aetna Customer Service to request an insurance card be mailed.

Yes, you can enroll via the link found on MyTC portal. For directions on enrolling, please refer to our How to Enroll page.

Yes. If you are enrolled in the Columbia Student Health Insurance, you will need a referral from your primary care physician at Columbia Health to see specialists. Referrals are for your diagnosis, not for your doctor (e.g. if you have a referral to get a mole checked and the dermatologist checks and finds a rash, you will need another referral to check the rash). 

All proof of insurance coverage can be obtained through Aetna. Please call their number at 1-800-859-8471.

Under the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan, students are covered for travel abroad under the On-Call International program. For all information concerning travel medical insurance, please view the Travel Assistance Services section on the Aetna Student Health page

MEDICAL BILL CLAIM PROCEDURE 
Please submit your claims to the following address: 
Aetna Student Health 
P.O. Box 981106 
El Paso, TX 79998 

On occasion, the claims investigation process will require additional information in order to properly adjudicate the claim. This investigation will be handled directly by Aetna. 

Customer Service Representatives are available 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, for any questions. 

Please note: 

1.     Bills must be submitted within 120 days from the date of treatment
2.     Payment for Covered Medical Expenses will be made directly to the hospital or physician concerned, unless bill receipts and proof of payment are submitted. 
3.     If itemized medical bills are available at the time the claim form is submitted, attach them to the claim form. Subsequent medical bills should be mailed promptly to the above address. 
4.     You will receive an “Explanation of Benefits” when your claims are processed. The Explanation of Benefits will explain how your claim was processed, according to the benefits of your Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan.
 
PRESCRIPTION DRUG CLAIM PROCEDURE
For prescriptions, all claims will need to be submitted to Aetna Pharmacy Management. More information about the process can be obtained by calling 800-238-6279. The form can be foundhere.

HOW TO APPEAL A CLAIM 
In the event a Covered Person disagrees with how a claim was processed, he/she may request 
a review of the decision. The Covered Person’s request must include why he/she disagrees with 
the way the claim was processed. The request must also include any additional information that 
supports the claim (e.g., medical records, Physician’s office notes, operative reports, 
Physician’s letter of medical necessity, etc.). Please submit all requests to: 

Aetna 
P.O. Box 14464 
Lexington, KY 40512 
 
Or call in the appeal to Customer Service using the toll-free telephone number shown on the 
member ID card: (800) 859 - 8471 

For more detailed information please refer to our Prescription Drug Claim Procedure web page.

You can add your spouse, domestic partner, or children as a dependent. We will need a government-issued marriage and/or domestic partnership license for enrollment for your partner. If you want to enroll your children, we will need a copy of your child's birth certificate. 

All documents must be submitted in English. If the original document is not in English, it must betranslated and notarized

Please refer to our Dependent Coverage webpage for additional information.

  • If you already waived the Columbia Student Health Insurance for the Autumn Semester, the waiver will be extended to the Spring Semester unless you notify our office about a “change of life event” that qualifies you for late enrollment.  Qualifying change of life events include:
    • Surpassing the maximum age for coverage as a dependent under a parent’s health insurance plan. 
    • Termination of health insurance under a partner’s or employer’s plan. 
  • Students who wish to enroll in one of the Columbia Student Health Insurance plans following a change of life event must email health-immunization@tc.edu to submit a Petition to Enroll form to our office.