International Student Health Insurance


Q: Am I eligible to enroll in UW International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP)?

UW international students who are F-1 or J-1 visa eligible, temporarily living outside their home country and who are enrolled and actively engaged in a program of study approved by the appropriate UW Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) are eligible to enroll in ISHIP.

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you are not eligible, but you can find other coverage options here.

Q: How do I sign up for ISHIP?

You sign up for ISHIP at the time you register for classes.  If you make no changes, you are automatically signed up for student only/quarterly coverage.  You may elect the annual coverage or add any spouse or dependents to your coverage at that time.

If you were registered for classes by an advisor, you may need to log into your MYUW account and enroll in ISHIP under the “Insurance/Optional Charges” section of the Registration page.  A tutorial on how to manually enroll in ISHIP is in the Tutorials page.

Q: How do I pay for ISHIP?

When you enroll in ISHIP, fees are added to your tuition statement and can be paid with your tuition fees.  ISHIP fees are due, with tuition, on the 3rd Friday of each quarter.  For more information on how to pay tuition, and ISHIP fees, see the tuition payment section of Student Fiscal Services.

Q: What are the dates of coverage?

Annual: September 1, 2018 through August 31, 2019

  • Autumn 2018: September 1, 2018 through January 6, 2019
  • Winter 2019: January 7, 2019 through March 31, 2019
  • Spring 2019: April 1, 2018 through June 23, 2019
  • Summer 2019: June 24, 2019 through August 31, 2019

Q: I’m an international student. I have other coverage and tried to cancel my ISHIP coverage but I couldn’t. Why can’t I cancel it?

UW international students are required to enroll in ISHIP and are automatically enrolled for student-only coverage each quarter they register for classes. You may waive ISHIP coverage if you meet certain criteria. See the Waiver Eligibility page for more information.

If International Students Services grants your waiver request, they will cancel your current quarter’s ISHIP coverage.

Q: If I don’t buy the ISHIP annual plan in Autumn quarter, can I buy it during another quarter?

Yes.  You may purchase the annual plan in autumn, winter, or spring quarter. The premium is pro-rated to cover you for the remainder of the academic year. The annual plan purchased during winter quarter covers winter, spring, and summer. The annual plan purchased during spring quarter covers spring and summer.

You must be registered for classes and maintain a current F-1 or J-1 visa eligibility to purchase either the annual plan or the quarterly plan.

Q:  How do I get my insurance card?

Lifewise will mail your insurance card within the first two weeks of the start of coverage.  Make sure your mailing preferences in your MYUW account are set to your local address to receive your insurance card.

If you do not receive your card by the first two weeks of the quarter, call Lifewise Customer Service at 800-971-1491 to request for your card.

Q:  I received a welcome email from LifeWise asking me to create an account on the LifeWise Portal, but I don’t have a member ID number yet.  What do I do?

If you are a new student, you will receive your LifeWise insurance card in the mail within 1-2 weeks after the start date of coverage.  Your member ID number will appear on your insurance card.  You will use this Member ID number (rather than a SSN since international students don’t have SSN’s) to complete your registration on the LifeWise Portal.  Make sure to keep your local address in Seattle updated via your MYUW account so that you will properly receive your insurance card.  Registration on the LifeWise Portal is optional and simply provides you with a tool to see how LifeWise is paying for the cost of your medical services.  Though recommended, it is not mandatory to create an account on the LifeWise Portal, nor will it affect your insurance coverage in any way.

Q:  I would like to change my coverage from quarterly to annual or vice versa.  How do I do that?

You will need to log into your MYUW account and check the box the “Annual Coverage” box that appears under the “Insurance/Optional Charges” section of the Registration page.  A detailed tutorial on how to change your coverage can be found in the Tutorials page herePlease note: You have until the third Friday of each quarter to make this change.

Q: Can I add my spouse or child to my ISHIP plan?

Yes.  If you are newly married or have a newborn baby you may add them as a dependent at any time (see question below).  For all others, you may only add new dependents during quarterly registration.  Adding a dependent is a two-part process.  First, you will need to add the number of dependents you wish to have on the Registration section of your MYUW account when you register for quarterly classes.  Within a week, you will receive a welcome email from LifeWise Assurance Company with instructions on the second step of the process.  If you did not receive the welcome email you may go to the LifeWise website and click on the Enroll Family Members link to complete the second step of enrollment.  If you have not created your personal account on the LifeWise website, you must do this first before enrolling family members by clicking on the Create Account link in the upper right corner of the LifeWise website main page.

Q: I am enrolled in ISHIP. I just got married or have a new baby. How do I add my spouse or baby to the plan?

Fill out the Dependent Enrollment Form on the LifeWise website and send it to the ISHIP Office.  The ISHIP Office will provide you with payment instructions at that time.  You must enroll your newly spouse or child within 30 days of marriage or domestic partner registration, or 60 days of birth or placement for adoption. Please see page 58-59 of the 2017-2018 ISHIP booklet for details.

Q: I have a GAIP-eligible appointment, but have already signed up for ISHIP. What do I need to do?

You need to contact the Benefits Office and ask them to confirm that you do have a GAIP eligible appointment this quarter. When confirmed, the GAIP consultant contacts the ISHIP Office and requests cancellation of your ISHIP coverage.

If you’ve already paid for ISHIP, your student account will be credited. If you haven’t paid, the charge will be dropped. If your department entered your TA/RA/SA appointment into the UW payroll system early enough, ISHIP will be canceled automatically.

If you purchased annual ISHIP during a prior quarter and then receive a GAIP-eligible appointment, you will be credited and receive a check for the remaining quarters in the policy year, minus the administration fee.

Q: I have a TA/RA/SA appointment. Where do I get information regarding the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP)?

GAIP is administered by the UW Benefits Office.  You can reach them at or 206-543-2800.

Q: I am graduating this quarter and I purchased the annual plan. Are there any changes in the care or coverage once I graduate?

If you are not registered in classes then you must pay your $100 quarterly deductible for care at Hall Health Center.  For registered students the deductible is waived for most services at Hall Health Center.

Any non-ISHIP related subsidized services offered to registered students are not available once you graduate.

Q: Do I have to pay the doctor on the same day I see them, or will the doctor bill my insurance? How do I file a claim?

To avoid having to pay on the day of service, provide the doctor’s office with your LifeWise ID card when you go in for your medical appointments.

When you visit a network provider or a medical provider that is contracted with LifeWise Assurance Company, you will not need to file a claim. Show your LifeWise ID card at the time of service and your doctor’s office will file the claim for you. See the LifeWise website for a list of doctors and other health care providers. Hall Health Center and all UW hospitals and clinics are LifeWise Assurance Company providers.

When you visit any other medical provider, you may need to pay the doctor and submit the claim to LifeWise yourself. Print a Medical Claim Form, complete it and mail it to the address on the claim form.

Q: What happens after my doctor files a claim with Lifewise?

When LifeWise processes your claim, they will send you an ‘Explanation of Benefits’ form. This form is for your records only.  You do not need to contact Lifewise or the doctor’s office about it unless you think it is wrong.  The Explanation of Benefits form will show how much LifeWise paid the doctor, the discount LifeWise negotiated with the doctor, and how much your co-payment is.

After your doctor receives payment from LifeWise, they will bill you for any co-payment that LifeWise did not cover.

Q: What if I require medical care outside of the Western Washington area?

See the LifeWise website for a list of network doctors and other health care providers outside of area.  You may also call LifeWise Assurance Company at 1-800-971-1491 to see if there are any network providers in your area.

Q: Are there network and non-network providers for dental and vision benefits?

Yes. LifeWise has a list of their dental and vision providers who have contracted with LifeWise so please contact LifeWise at 1-800-971-1491 for referrals. Always take your LifeWise ID card with you to medical appointments.

However, you may go to ANY dentist or optometrist anywhere in the world, as long as they are a licensed provider. Some providers will not directly bill LifeWise Assurance Company and in these cases you’ll need to submit the claim yourself by printing a claim form and mail it to the address on the claim form.

Q: Can I purchase summer quarter ISHIP if I don’t have annual coverage and I’m not a registered student during summer quarter?

No.  The only way to be covered for summer quarter without registering for summer quarter is if you purchased the annual coverage in a previous quarter.  If you had not purchased the annual coverage and don’t plan to enroll in Summer classes, you will need to purchase a short term medical insurance from an outside company.  Go to our outside insurance options page for further guidance with finding and purchasing a short term medical coverage.

Q:  If I am not an F-1 or J-1 visa status international student, can I purchase ISHIP?

No.  Only F-1 and J-1 visa status international students are eligible to enroll in ISHIP.  If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, please refer to the Affordable Care Act FAQ page to explore your options.

Q: I withdrew or have been approved for tuition forfeiture for the quarter, but I’m still getting charged for ISHIP. How can I cancel it?

The student database system will not automatically cancel ISHIP coverage if you withdraw or receive approval for tuition forfeiture. In these cases, you need to contact the ISHIP Office by the third Friday of the quarter to cancel the coverage otherwise you will be charged and may owe a late fee.

Please note, ISHIP fees are not always refundable.  The UW is obligated to pay our insurance carrier shortly after the third Friday of each quarter.  If your cancellation request comes AFTER the UW has paid our insurance carrier, you will be responsible for ISHIP fees incurred during that quarter.  Contact the ISHIP counselor to determine if you are still eligible for a refund.

Q: How do I get verification that I am enrolled in ISHIP?

Please contact LifeWise directly if you need insurance verification for one of these reasons:

  • You want a copy of the verification.
  • A program outside UW requests verification.
  • You need to waive your spouse’s insurance because they already have coverage through ISHIP.
  • You have annual insurance and need documentation of it for a summer program.
  • Another insurance carrier requested proof that you, your spouse or your children are currently enrolled in ISHIP.

Please contact the ISHIP Office for one of these reasons:

  • Waivers of community college coverage when attending during summer quarter
  • Verification for a UW sports team

Q:  I received a letter from Lifewise asking me for my SSN or ITIN.  What do I do?

You only need to respond to the letter if:

  • You already have an SSN because you work on campus, or have CPT or OPT authorization.
  • You have an ITIN because you received a taxable scholarship or fellowship in the past year.

To respond, go to the Registration window in Schmitz 225.
Bring your photo ID and SSN card or ITIN number. The Registration staff will update your SSN or ITIN in the student database. This is the only step you must take. You do not need to send the letter back to Lifewise.

Do not respond—disregard the letter—if:

  • You do not have an SSN because you did not work on campus, have CPT or OPT.*
  • You do not have an ITIN because you did not receive a taxable scholarship or fellowship in the past year.*

*Note: The IRS penalty of $50 does not apply to students who do not have an SSN or ITIN.

Q:  I will be graduating soon and starting Optional Practical Training (OPT), can I continue to be covered under ISHIP?

Please consult our OPT and Early Fall Start page to explore your options.

Q: I received a tax form 1095T from Lifewise.  What do I do with it?

You only need to keep the tax form 1095 if:

You are an international student who has been in the US longer than 5 years.  International students who have been in the US for 5 years or longer may have experienced a change in status from “non-resident alien” to “resident alien” and may be required to provide proof of medical coverage to the Internal Revenue Service.  Your tax form 1095 is proof of your medical coverage.

Do not respond-disregard the form-if:

You are an international student who has been in the US for less than 5 years.