SHIP for International Students

Eligibility for International Students

All International students enrolled in courses at the Colorado School of Mines are required to enroll in the SHIP. (This requirement excludes International Scholars who have been awarded research, teaching or faculty appointments.)

International students who have government, embassy or U.S.-based company sponsorships may be able to complete a waiver to opt out of the SHIP.  International policies MUST have a United States claims address and contact phone number to be approved for a waiver. 

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International students should have the same access to high-quality health care as domestic students. It is the fair and right thing to do for students who are guests in the U.S. and are thousands of miles away from home. 

“The cost of health care in the United States (U.S.), while it is of high quality, is also expensive. You simply may not get the best treatment if you cannot prove that you have the ability to pay the bills. Without insurance, you could also face financial ruin if you have a serious accident or illness. This, in turn, could prevent you from completing your studies in the U.S.”


– Healthgram on the United States: A Guide for International Students & Scholars to Wellness and Health Care. Joint publication of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and ACHA, American College Health Association, pg. 6.

Health insurance is important to anyone living in the United States. Health care in the U.S. is very expensive and insurance is the best way to be certain that expenses are covered. Unpaid medical bills damage the relationship between the community and students, as well as damage the reputation of students as a whole.

Many care providers will not provide health care to someone who does not have insurance, or they will ask for full payment at the time of service. Insurance takes care of expenses and assures both the doctor and the patient that bills will be paid.

In the past, International students have purchased health insurance that has been inadequate. This creates a burden on the local health care system, on students and on their families.

Generally, those inadequacies included:

  • no local providers in the Denver metropolitan area
  • no mental health coverage
  • no coverage if student attempts suicide
  • no coverage for alcohol/drug treatment
  • pre-existing condition exclusions
  • emergency medical care/hospitalization care only, without non-emergency care
  • students having to pay for the full cost of treatment at the time care was provided with the hope that they would be reimbursed when they returned to their home country
  • no prescription drug benefits
  • inadequate lifetime limit coverage

Some students have purchased health insurance in order to be in compliance with Mines’ requirements, and then dropped the coverage after a short time. Any eligible student who is subject to the Colorado School of Mines insurance requirement and is found to be uninsured during the Plan Year or found that their coverage does not meet Mines’ requirements will be enrolled in the SHIP. Other conditions will apply.

Provincial Health Coverage

Health coverage provided by your Canadian province (OHIP, etc.) is not acceptable as a substitute for the SHIP because it does not pay for the true U.S. costs of health care, and it requires you to return to Canada for non-emergency care or for additional treatment after you have been stabilized. Therefore, this coverage is not sufficient to meet Mines’ requirements and would not qualify for a waiver.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is insurance that is in effect for a short period time and is designed for short trips, not for students who will be living in the United States for an academic year or more. Insurance that you plan to substitute for the SHIP should be in effect throughout the current academic year.

“Emergency Only” Insurance

Insurance that covers “emergencies only” is also not comparable to the SHIP.  Again, these “emergency only” policies are designed for short trips, not for students who will be living in the United States for an academic year or more.

Legal Basis

The University may impose such a requirement on all students who are not United States citizens. Such a requirement is not regarded as discrimination on the basis of national origin by the courts (Espinoza vs. Farah, 6 FEP 931,1973). “This is true so long as no distinction is made between citizens of different foreign countries” (Joseph Goldhammer, Resident Legal Counsel, Office of the Attorney General, Dept. of Law, State of Colorado, regarding Foreign Student Health Insurance).

Most students come to U.S. institutions under an “F” visa. Federal immigration law requires that this subclass of non-immigrants provide proof of their financial ability to support themselves and the cost of their education. These requirements have not been found to violate the equal protection amendment to the Constitution (Anwo vs. Immigration and Naturalization Service., 607 F.2d 435 D.C. Cir, 1979). Colorado School of Mines considers medical insurance an integral part of the student’s ability to support themselves. Federal immigration law also requires that exchange visitors and their accompanying spouse/dependent(s) coming to the United States on a “J” visa carry medical insurance (22 CFR 515.14).

Equal Protection Analysis/14th Amendment to the Constitution: The U.S. Constitution requires that “no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.” Is requiring health insurance of international students discriminatory? Does it violate those students’ constitutional equal protection rights? Case law differentiates the legal rights of U.S. citizens and permanent residents from the legal rights of non-immigrant aliens, those persons who are in the United States for a short period of time and for a particular purpose. Courts have recognized that requiring health insurance protects the students’ ability to exist in the community, realizing the high costs of health care in this country (Ahmed v. University of Toledo, 822 F.2d 26 6th Cir., 1987). Further, courts have acknowledged that requiring health insurance is consistent with, and supports the purposes of, federal immigration law. “International students do not have a constitutional right to attend American universities without complying with the institutions’ reasonable regulations” (Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 1982).


Andrea Tangney
Student Health Insurance Plan Manager
Student Wellness Center, #236