Access to Student Health Insurance Benefits COVID-19 Update

March 19,2020

This information is for participants in the Aetna Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan. This page contains a significant amount of information so we encourage you to take the time to read through and bookmark this page for future reference.

Access to your insurance card

You have access to print an insurance ID card. You can also access your insurance information through the Aetna Mobile app. To obtain an ID card by mail please call Aetna Customer Service at 800-859-8471.  

Referral requirement

  • If you are enrolled in The Columbia Plan, your primary care provider is your CUIMC SHS Medical Services clinician and your initial mental health provider is at Mental Health Services (MHS).
  • Hospital emergency rooms and urgent care facilities do not require a referral, regardless of your location within the US. Students who are more than 50 miles away from campus do not need referrals for other services. For students remaining within 50 miles of campus, referrals for off-campus care for most other services are mandatory from your Medical Services or MHS provider. Medical Services and MHS providers are available to issue and renew referrals through the web portal , phone and other virtual visits to expedite access for plan members.
  • There are some limited situations when a referral may not be required.  Please review these specifics before accessing care as SHS does not issue retroactive referrals and accessing care without a required referral may result in increased out of pocket costs for which you are responsible.

Existing referrals

Referrals are issued by condition so if you are transitioning care to a new provider for the same condition you most likely do not need a new referral. If you are unsure, contact the Insurance Office for guidance at shsinsurance@cumc.columbia.edu.  Referrals for medical care are valid through August 14, 2020.  Existing referrals for mental health are good for the duration of your enrollment in the Columbia Plan. 

Requesting new referrals

To request a new referral please send a secure message via the health portal to your primary care provider at SHS.  Providers at Medical Services and MHS are available to issue and renew referrals through phone and other virtual visits to expedite access for plan members

Off-campus Primary Care

  • Referrals are not required for access to off-campus primary care when the treating provider bills for a primary care visit.  Sick visits and follow up visits may not be billed as primary care so be sure to clarify before receiving services from off-campus providers.  You are responsible for the co-pay portion as well as any other related out of pocket expenses should the provider not bill as a primary care visit.  Please also note that off-campus primary care providers cannot issue referrals for students on the plan.
  • As a reminder, there is no co-pay for receiving primary care services from SHS, including phone and other virtual appointments.  To schedule a phone or virtual appointment with SHS please visit the health portal: http://bit.ly/shshealthportal or call 212-305-3400.

Finding and In-Network Provider

Aetna offers an online tool called DocFind to help you find an in-network provider.  You can access DocFind via the Aetna app or website.

Telephone Visits

Phone and virtual visits are available from SHS as well as off-campus providers.  As a reminder, there is no co-pay for receiving primary care services from SHS, including phone and other virtual appointments (when available).  

From SHS Providers

  • SHS is available to provide a number of routine services via phone and is working on providing secure virtual visits. 
  • Please schedule an appointment via the health portal and  be sure your contact information is accurate.  Your provider will contact you at the time of your appointment by telephone. 
  • Please be sure that your phone can accept calls from blocked numbers or reach out to your provider to schedule a call through Zoom.  For assistance with scheduling or for questions, please call 212-305-3400, for urgent matters after regular operating hours, please call 212-305-3400, press 7

From other providers

  • Through June 4, 2020, Aetna will offer zero co-pay in-network telemedicine visits for any reason (medical and mental health).
  • Students should use virtual and phone visits as their first contact with a provider in order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure when leaving home. 

Coverage for COVID-19

  • Aetna Student Health will waive co-insurance for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location.
  • Through existing care management programs, Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested if clinically indicated.
  • Should it occur, hospitalizations will be treated as any other sickness and paid according to the plan design.

 As always, please reach out to us with any questions via email (shsinsurance@cumc.columbia.edu).