Penn State continues student requirement to submit health insurance coverage

March 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For fall 2019, Penn State will again require all full-time U.S. students to submit their current health insurance coverage information through LionPATH after registering for classes and after open enrollment. This information, collected through LionPATH, will help Penn State better understand the insurance needs of its students and help support those students in making informed health insurance decisions.

Penn State is not implementing a proposed institutional requirement for all U.S. students to have health insurance at this time, and all students who do not have health insurance coverage will not be automatically enrolled in an insurance plan or charged a fee.

To submit their insurance information, students will be assigned a to-do list item in LionPATH as well as receive emails from First Risk Advisors, the University’s insurance partner, with instructions for completing the collection form. After completing this online form, students will receive an email designed to help them understand whether or not their current health insurance plan meets the University’s recommendation for adequate coverage.

Students who do not currently have adequate coverage that is accepted by providers on or near the campus they attend are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), which they can do through LionPATH. The Penn State SHIP, designed specifically for students, offers comprehensive health insurance at a competitive price with a wide network of providers across the United States.

All U.S. undergraduate and graduate students at all Penn State campus locations will be asked to provide their health insurance coverage information annually through LionPATH. The requirement does not apply to World Campus students.

Not having adequate insurance puts students at risk for accumulating high debt if they become sick or injured or exacerbating an illness if students defer medical treatment because of lack of coverage, all of which can jeopardize their ability to succeed in school or in some cases complete their degree. Additionally, many students do not seek health care when needed because of a lack of health insurance.

University Health Services, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, has been collecting health insurance information from students for several years to better understand student insurance needs.

According to University Health Services, several hundred students each year are surprised to learn that their insurance is inadequate to meet their needs, or restricts their access to physicians or hospitals because it is a Health Management Organization (HMO), a regional health plan, state Medicaid plan, or other health insurance plan that does not work in the area of their Penn State campus or outside of their home area.

International Students and Medical Degree (M.D.) Students

International students are required to have adequate health insurance coverage while enrolled at Penn State as part of their VISA requirements. International students must provide proof of health insurance coverage that meets certain criteria or purchase the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

Medical students also are required to have continuous health care coverage that meets requirements while enrolled at Penn State and must purchase the Penn State SHIP unless they have an approved waiver.  

The Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)

The Penn State SHIP is a platinum-level health insurance plan with a low deductible and a capped out-of-pocket maximum. It was designed specifically for Penn State students and selected with input from Penn State students. The Penn State SHIP offers a vast community of in-network providers at all campus locations and throughout the United States, as well as worldwide coverage. Penn State offers this plan through United Healthcare. It is offered as a service to our students and Penn State does not profit from the plan.

Student insurance rates for the coverage period 2019-20 will be available soon. The University expects a premium rate decrease for the upcoming coverage year. The new rates along with open enrollment dates will be available on the University Health Services website in the next few weeks.

Students have been part of the process for making decisions about health insurance for many years. The Student Insurance Advisory Board/Council (SIAB/C), which includes representatives from the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), the Commonwealth Campus Student Government (CCSG), and representatives from international student organizations, provide input to University Health Services and its Student Health Insurance Office regarding the Penn State SHIP, including the selection of insurer, plan design and mechanisms to manage costs.

Additional questions about Student Health Insurance can be directed to University Health Services' Office of Student Health Insurance at

Last Updated April 04, 2019