Frequently asked questions about the UM Graduate Assistants Health Insurance Program
The University of Mississippi requires graduate assistants (1/4 time and above) to have health insurance. Whereas this requirement may be satisfied by having alternate insurance, the state IHL board has negotiated a group health insurance plan for all Mississippi universities with Wellfleet Insurance using the Cigna PPO network and will provide a subsidy for participants in this plan.
Why does the University require that graduate assistants have health insurance? Surveys have shown that graduate students are a segment of our population that tends not to have adequate health insurance. This is a result of a combination of factors. Most graduate students are of the age where they can no longer be covered as a dependent on their parents insurance. Also, graduate students usually have limited income and individual insurance plans can be very expensive. While affording health insurance is a problem for many graduate students, the University has an interest in assuring that graduate assistants (i.e., those graduate students who are employed by the University to do teaching, research, or administrative service) are able to receive adequate health care so that they will be able to perform their duties and complete their studies, with limited absence due to illness or injury.
Who is required to have insurance? All international students (holding F or J visas), whether graduate, undergraduate, or ESL students, are required to have insurance. In addition, all graduate assistants, with appointments of 1/4 time or above, are required to have insurance. This applies to graduate instructors, graduate teaching assistants, graduate research assistants, and graduate administrative assistants. The definition of 1/4 and ½ time appointments is in terms of the monthly salary trigger levels ($2500-4999 per semester corresponds to 1/4 time and $5000 or more per semester corresponds to ½ time). Holders of University funded fellowship (e.g., Dissertation Fellowships) are also required to have insurance. Graduate students who are employed on hourly wage or who have assistantships with stipends less than $2500 per semester are not required to have insurance.
How much does the UM Graduate Assistants Health Insurance cost?
The University provides a subsidy for graduate assistants. For 1⁄2 graduate assistants, the subsidy is 70% of the premium; for 1/4 graduate assistants, the subsidy is 35% of the premium. A graduate assistant must be enrolled full time (9 hours of graduate course work) to receive the subsidy.
When does my insurance coverage begin? For domestic graduate assistants, the insurance coverage begins on 8/15 for a Fall period (or 1/15 for a Spring/Summer period) or the initial appointment date for your assistantship, whichever is later. For an international student, whether you are a graduate assistant or not, the coverage period begins on 8/15 for the Fall (or 1/15 for the Spring).
What if I have other health insurance? You may request a waiver from participation in the
UM Graduate Assistants Plan. If you are a domestic graduate assistant, this process is conducted online each year. You must be granted access to the waiver request site and will receive an email in the Fall once access has been granted. We advise graduate assistants to carefully consider the overall benefits, including the subsidy, of the UM Graduate Assistants Plan in comparison with other individual insurance.
All International Students must contact the Office of International Programs to request waivers.
What if I have an existing insurance plan and I also participate in the UM Graduate Assistants Plan? This will mean that you have both insurance coverages and should provide coverage of essentially all of your health care costs.
Can I extend the Wellfleet Student Health insurance coverage after I graduate? No, Wellfleet does not offer COBRA coverage to the plan. However, if you graduate in May, your spring coverage will still continue until 8/14 of that year.
How do I get an insurance card? You may print a copy of your insurance card from the Wellfleet Student website at https://www.studentinsurance.com/Client/1789
How do I enroll/register? Do I need to do anything to have coverage? If you are an international student, you will be automatically enrolled in the insurance plan at the beginning of your first semester at UM and you will continue to be enrolled in the plan as long as you are an enrolled student at the University.
If you are awarded a graduate assistantship (whether you are an international or domestic graduate student), you will be enrolled automatically in the plan if you have not been approved for a waiver of participation by the deadline. For an international graduate students, your enrollment in the insurance plan begins on August 15 for a Fall term and January 15 for a Spring/Summer term. For a domestic graduate assistant, your enrollment begins either on these same dates or when your assistantship begins, whichever date is later.
This automatic enrollment process is handled by the Graduate School, so you don’t have to do anything.
Can I purchase coverage for my spouse and children? Yes. If you purchase additional plans for spouse or dependents, you will do so directly with the Wellfleet Student Health Insurance Company through their web site (https://www.studentinsurance.com/Client/1789) and payments will not go through the University.
How will the portion of the premium I pay be collected?
For Graduate Assistants the payment of the premium will occur as a payroll deduction from the six paychecks of each Fall/Spring term. International students not on assistantship will have their premium billed to their Bursar account after the last day to add classes.
Why are there different premium amounts in the Fall and Spring? The Fall coverage period is shorter than the Spring coverage period, which includes the summer months as well. So, at the beginning of the Fall semester, a premium for five months is collected. At the beginning of the Spring semester, a premium for seven months is collected.
Am I covered during the summer? Yes, if you are enrolled in the plan during the Spring semester, you are also enrolled during the summer, until August 14.
How can I get a copy of the plan? Visit Wellfleet Student on the web at https://www.studentinsurance.com/Docs/Resources/5606_WEB%20U%20of%20Miss%20-%20Ole%20Miss%20BGlance%208.4.20%20.pdf . Also, a link to the plan is posted on the Graduate School’s web site.
How do I know if my doctor is in the Wellfleet/Cigna PPO network? Visit https://www.studentinsurance.com/Client/1789 and select “Find Health Professionals.”
Is pregnancy covered? Yes, pregnancy is covered under the same benefits as any other condition.
When does my coverage begin? For the Fall term, coverage begins on August 15 The Fall term coverage extends until January 14 of the following year. For the Spring/Summer term, coverage begins on January 15 or when your graduate assistantship begins, whichever is later. Again, if you are an international student, coverage begins on January 15 whether or not you have an assistantship. The Spring/Summer coverage continues until August 14.
If I request a waiver, do I have to renew this waiver request annually? Yes. At the beginning of each academic year you will need to request (or renew your request) for a waiver of participation in the Graduate Assistants Health Insurance Plan. A wavier granted at this time can apply for the entire 12 month period. If your initial graduate assistantship begins in a Spring semester, the request for a waiver of participation must be made at least one week before the beginning of the Spring semester.