Frequently Asked Questions

What services does Student Health Service (SHS) provide? 
Please see the Medical Services page to learn more about SHS’s services. 

How do I make an appointment? 
Students can call Student Health Service at 773.702.4156 during business hours to make an appointment. Students who have established MyChart access can request an appointment 24 hours per day.

What are the options for urgent or after-hours care? 
Please visit the Get Help Now page for information on urgent and after-hours care.

What services are covered under the Student Life Fee? 
This page outlines the services that are covered under the Student Life Fee, and what is not covered. 

Where can I go to fill or re-fill a prescription? 
Students can fill or re-fill prescriptions at DCAM Pharmacy located in the University’s medical center (5758 South Maryland Avenue). Students also have access to local pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens. 

Can parents get medical records? 
Students who are 18 years of age or older must provide SHS with written permission to discuss their health information with anyone. Please obtain a Consent to Release Information form and submit to SHS staff.

Can I walk in to SHS to seek treatment?
We encourage all students to call for an appointment. Students who walk in seeking care will be seen by a nurse who will triage their symptoms and schedule a same-day or future appointment, or provide them with home care instructions. Appointments are prioritized based on urgency. 

How long will I be at SHS for my appointment? 
Most appointments take forty-five minutes to one hour from check-in to check-out. If you require x-rays or another procedure, your visit may take additional time. 

What is the role of the Student Counseling Service (SCS)? 
SCS provides mental health care to University of Chicago students. This care includes needs assessment, psychotherapy, psychiatric consultation, the Academic Skills Assessment Program, support groups, referrals, emergency services, and health promotion and wellness programs.

All students and spouses, domestic partners, and adult children of students who have paid the Student Life Fee are eligible for services at SCS, including diagnostic assessment and short-term treatment, as determined by their clinician. The University encourages the use of SCS by anyone who is eligible and may need its services.

Who are the providers at SCS?
SCS employs a multidisciplinary and diverse staff of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, an advanced practice psychiatric nurse, clinical social workers, as well as administrators. SCS clinicians share a dedication to providing culturally informed mental health services. SCS providers have expertise in a wide range of specialty areas, including: alcohol and other drug use/misuse, eating concerns, LGBTQ mental health, and academic skills support services. Unlike most university counseling centers, SCS has a psychiatric team that provides psychiatric evaluations and ongoing medication management. 

What services and resources does SCS provide? 
Please see the Mental Health Services page to learn more about SCS’s services. 

What services are covered under the Student Life Fee? 
This page outlines the services that are covered under the Student Life Fee, and what is not covered. 

How do I make an appointment? 
Call Student Counseling Service at 773.702.9800 or walk in to the office at 5555 South Woodlawn Avenue during operating hours (8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday) to make an appointment.

How long does it take to get an appointment at SCS? 
Students who are experiencing a mental health crisis can walk in to SCS during operating hours (8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday) and meet with a crisis intervention counselor (and, if clinically indicated, with a psychiatric provider), without an appointment.

Routine first (“intake”) appointments are offered within five business days, often sooner. During the 2016–2017 academic year, the average was 4.1 days. While SCS will try to offer timely appointments that work with a student’s schedule, students may have to prioritize going to an intake appointment over attending class and other obligations if they want to be seen as quickly as possible.

Students who are reluctant to access traditional therapy services have access to anonymous, drop-in, one-on-one consultations with SCS clinicians through SCS’s Let’s Talk program.

After hours and on weekends, year-round, students have telephonic access to a Therapist-on-Call (773.702.3625), as well as to the rest of the University’s emergency response services, such as the Dean-on-Call (773.834.HELP).

If a student is having a mental health crisis, can they get help at SCS?
Yes. Students who need to meet with a therapist urgently are encouraged to walk in during SCS operating hours to meet with the crisis intervention counselor (and, if necessary, with someone from the psychiatric team). After hours and on weekends, year-round, students have telephonic access to a Therapist-on-Call (773.702.3625). More information can be found on the Get Help Now page.

Where can I go to fill or refill a prescription?
Students can fill or refill prescriptions at DCAM Pharmacy located in the University’s medical center (5758 South Maryland Avenue). Students also have access to local pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens. Please see our SCS Prescription Refills page for more information.

In what kinds of situations does SCS refer students to outside providers? Why is that necessary?
SCS is committed to making the best use of available resources, and to serve the entire student community quickly and without a waitlist. The demand for these services is extensive and requires substantial resources. SCS focuses on providing timely access to therapy, and does not provide open-ended, long-term individual or couples therapy.

It is important to note that the majority of student issues can be adequately addressed through short-term therapy (which SCS defines as approximately six–eight sessions or fewer). A minority of intakes result in a referral to an outside provider. However, when an SCS therapist identifies a need for more intensive or longer-term therapy services than SCS is able to provide, a referral helps ensure that students receive the most appropriate care available.

SCS is able to provide a number of clinical services on a longer-term basis. For example, many therapy groups meet for longer periods of time. And SCS is typically able to provide ongoing medication management to students throughout their time at the University.

Does SCS help students find outside providers?
Yes. When an SCS therapist recommends treatment by an outside provider, the SCS therapist will work with a student to identify possible providers and, as appropriate, facilitate the referral.

SCS is responsible for the mental health referrals to the University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP) and, as such, maintains a regularly updated list of local providers, many of whom are in Hyde Park. When new providers wish to be added to the U-SHIP community provider list, there is a vetting process. SCS also hosts an annual open house for U-SHIP providers; this is an opportunity for SCS and community providers to become better acquainted with one another, which helps with future referrals.

For those students who have insurance plans other than U-SHIP, the outside providers who may be available will vary depending on the student’s health insurance coverage. Students who have other health insurance coverage will need to access their insurance company’s website to generate a list of local, in-network providers. SCS clinicians will help as much as possible with that referral process.

Are outside providers covered by U-SHIP?
Outside providers, including psychiatrists, are covered by U-SHIP. SCS maintains a list of in-network therapists who accept U-SHIP insurance. When the cost of seeing an outside provider (such as insurance co-pays) presents an obstacle to a student receiving services, SCS will work with the student to try to find lower-cost options.

If a student is referred to an outside provider, does that mean they will not be seen at SCS?
Students often continue to meet with an SCS provider for “bridging sessions” until treatment with an outside provider is established. Students who are working with outside providers continue to have access to SCS’s walk-in and after-hours crisis services. Sometimes a student will see an outside provider for therapy, and an SCS provider for psychiatric care. Additionally, a student may see an outside provider for a period of time, and then may return to SCS for additional services in the future. Finally, students who are referred to an outside provider are always encouraged to let their SCS therapist know if there is any difficulty in establishing care with the outside provider, including a desire for another referral.

If students, faculty, or staff are concerned about a student’s mental health, to whom can they turn for help?
SCS is available for consultation 24 hours a day for emergent issues. Anyone with a concern about a student’s mental health is encouraged to reach out to SCS during or after hours for consultation. In addition to SCS’s services, concerned individuals have access to the University’s emergency response services, such as the Dean-on-Call (773.834.HELP).

If a student doesn’t want to go to SCS, what other options are there?
Students who are reluctant to access traditional therapist services have access to anonymous, drop-in, one-on-one consultations with SCS clinicians through SCS’s Let’s Talk program.

Students who would like to be connected with therpy services but know that they would prefer not to receive these services on campus at SCS are encouraged to contact SCS for assistance with a referral to a non-SCS provider. Students with U-SHIP coverage will need to be seen at least once at SCS in order to obtain a referral.

How can SCS ensure confidentiality?
It is entirely the student’s choice whether or not to discuss use of the Student Counseling Service with family (including parents), friends, and University personnel. Other than authorized Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) staff, no one will have access to student mental health records without the student’s signed consent. They will not become a part of the student’s academic record, and even the fact that the student came to SCS will not be shared with anyone inside or outside the University without the student’s permission, except as permitted by law.

There are some modest exceptions to the principle of confidentiality, including when a student is assessed to be a danger to themselves or others. In this situation, SCS has a legal obligation to take appropriate action to help ensure a student’s safety, even if that means sharing confidential information. If students have any questions about this policy, they should raise them with their therapist or with Dr. David Albert, director of SCS.

How does SCS communicate with parents whose children are receiving services?
Except in rare circumstances related to acute risk, SCS providers need permission from a student to communicate with parents about their care.

Sometimes, an SCS provider believes that communication with a parent is clinically indicated, in which case the provider will discuss this with the student. It is up to the student to decide what if any information the provider is able to share with a parent.

What does Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) do? 
HPW empowers you to make healthy lifestyle choices to advance your academic, personal, and professional goals. We utilize evidence-based practices and apply UChicago health behavior data to create programming tailored for you.

We focus our efforts on seven key Facets of Wellness to develop innovative initiatives that address the needs of our students by utilizing a public health approach to wellness. We work collaboratively with campus partners to enhance the UChicago community to promote lifelong healthy behaviors and empower students to improve their quality of life and reach their highest potential.

What are the Facets of Wellness?
Wellness is more than just physical health, exercise, or nutrition. The Facets of Wellness framework is a way to show that in order to achieve holistic wellness, one has to find balance among each of these facets. Each facet contributes to healthy living in its own way and they interact together to help determine your full quality of life.

HPW’s goal is to enhance the environment and community at the University of Chicago to promote lifelong healthy behaviors and to empower individual students to improve their quality of life and reach their highest potential. We do this by working collaboratively with campus partners to focus on all facets of wellness.

Who can attend your programs? 
HPW programs and events are open to all registered undergraduate and graduate students.

How can I get involved in HPW?
Our department has unique student groups that you can apply to join:

How can I request a speaker?
Health Promotion and Wellness offers presentations to RSOs, teams, Houses, and departments. Topics include alcohol and other drugs, body image/self-esteem, mindfulness, self-care, sexual health promotion, sleep education, and stress management. Please complete a request form to get started.

How can our office collaborate with you? 
We are always interested in new ways that we can partner with others. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please email wellness@lists.uchicago.edu or call 773.702.8935.

How can student groups utilize HPW resources? 
HPW has a number of resources available for student groups, including Stress Kits, condom packs, and student-led workshops. Visit our Wellness Programming pages for more information.

Are there fees or costs associated with HPW programs?
No. Services offered by HPW are covered under the Student Life Fee.

Why does UChicago require me to have health insurance?
While the Student Health and Counseling clinics can provide primary care for students who pay the Student Life Fee, students often incur additional medical expenses for medications, laboratory work, hospitalizations, and specialty care. It is important that students are able to receive appropriate health care when necessary, without undue financial burden. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act requires most individuals to have health insurance that meets certain standards of coverage.  

What happens if I do not elect to enroll or waive coverage by the set deadline?
You will be automatically enrolled in annual U-SHIP coverage and charged the premium, in three quarterly installments. The coverage will not be prorated and will be effective September 1.  It is important to remember that being default enrolled in U-SHIP due to inaction is binding for the full year (September through August of the following year). 

How are U-SHIP charges assessed?
For students who enroll at the University in Autumn Quarter, U-SHIP is billed in three quarterly (Autumn, Winter, and Spring) installments on your student account. Regardless of which quarter a student enters the University, the Spring Quarter premium provides coverage from the start of Spring Quarter through August 31. Students whose first quarter of enrollment is Summer Quarter will be billed for that period’s premium on their Summer bill. 

Do any academic programs cover the cost of U-SHIP?
Some PhD programs will cover the cost of U-SHIP for certain students. The insurance premium will be posted on the quarterly student account, and the charges will be paid for by the academic department. If you are a PhD student and have questions, please contact your dean of students for more information. 

What is a mid-year qualifying life event?
In certain special cases it may be necessary to change health insurance coverage during the middle of the plan year (“mid-year change”). Specific circumstances that may qualify for a change in insurance enrollment in the middle of the plan year include:

  • Loss of existing health insurance coverage (i.e., aging-off a parent's plan; parent/spouse terminating a job)
  • Addition of loss of health insurance coverage as a result of a change in employment
  • Change in coverage as a result of marriage/divorce or change in domestic partnership status
  • Need to add coverage due to the birth/adoption of a child
  • Recent immigration of a dependent spouse/partner or children

Petitions to add or waive coverage must be made within 31 days of the qualifying life event noted above. If moving from U-SHIP to an alternate plan, that plan must meet the University’s comparable coverage requirements that are set for each academic year.

Your U-SHIP enrollment will become effective on the day your previous insurance terminates or the day after your Petition to Add has been approved by the Student Insurance Office—whichever is later. Students will be responsible for the full premium for the quarter in which the changed coverage takes effect. The premium is not pro-rated.

Please contact our Student Insurance Office at 773.834.4543 (Option 2) or uchicagoadvocates@uhcsr.com to inform them of your mid-year qualifying life event.  

Who qualifies as a dependent?

  • Spouse
  • Domestic Partner
  • Biological Child
  • Adopted Child
  • Foster Child
  • Step Child 

What qualifies as a domestic partnership?
Please see the Student Manual for the University's definition and policy.

Does my insurance cover dental and/ or vision?
No, U-SHIP does not include coverage for dental or vision; however, all students enrolled in U-SHIP are automatically enrolled in UnitedHealth Allies Discount Program, which provides discounts on healthcare-related items that may not be covered under your plan. Voluntary dental and vision plans are available to all students regardless of U-SHIP enrollment for an additional cost. Students may enroll during open enrollment, which occurs twice a year for vision and dental: at the beginning of the academic year and during Winter Quarter. Information about the voluntary (optional) dental and vision programs can be found on the Student Insurance website. 

Do I have to waive U-SHIP every year?
Yes, waivers are valid for one academic year. If you submit a waiver in Autumn 2018 you will not need to submit another waiver until Autumn 2019. If you submit a waiver in Spring 2019, you will need to submit another waiver for Autumn 2019. All waivers expire August 31. 

If I waive health insurance in one quarter, can I enroll in coverage another quarter?
Yes, but only if you have a qualifying mid-year event.  If you have waived coverage one quarter, but need to elect coverage in a proceeding quarter due to a mid-year qualifying life event, contact the Student Insurance Office at uchicagoadvocates@uhcsr.com or 773-834-4543 (Option 2). 

I enrolled in coverage. How long do I have to wait until I can see the doctor?
After you confirm enrollment, your coverage is effective retroactive to the first day of the quarter (September 1 for Autumn Quarter). However, after you enroll in coverage, please allow two business days for processing. Once your application is processed, you will be able to print out your insurance card online through your UnitedHealthcare MyAccount. If you have a healthcare emergency, or if you need to see a doctor more urgently than two days, your coverage will be effective immediately, but you may need to pay more money up front and be reimbursed. For questions, please contact the Student Insurance Office at uchicagoadvocates@uhcsr.com or 773-834-4543 (Option 2). 

If I enroll in U-SHIP, how much will I have to pay for healthcare?
Once you enroll in U-SHIP and pay the premium, you will be responsible for meeting the annual deductible on U-SHIP (i.e., the first $500 of your medical costs) before your insurance begins to cover additional medical costs. After your annual deductible has been met, you will be responsible for a percentage of the cost of obtaining medical care. More information about the costs associated with receiving care while covered by U-SHIP is available on UnitedHealthcare's website.

I am new to managing my own health care costs. How can I learn more about insurance terminology and how insurance works?
There are many resources that exist to help you better understand how insurance works. Here are a few suggested resources:

Do I continue to have insurance after I graduate?
If you are graduating in June, your coverage will automatically continue until the termination date of August 31. Students who have been continuously enrolled under U-SHIP for six consecutive months prior to this termination date will have up to thirty-one days after the termination date to enroll into the continuation plan for up to three additional months. Otherwise, you may be eligible to enroll in alternate coverage through a state or federal exchange plan.  

Can I change my decision to confirm or waive before the deadline? How?
Yes, once you have submitted your initial enrollment/waiver information, any subsequent changes can be made by contacting the Student Insurance Office at uchicagoadvocates@uhcsr.com or 773-834-4543 (Option 2) before the open enrollment deadline.  

Am I required to get a referral from the University's Student Health Service and/or Student Counseling Service before I seek treatment off campus?
Yes, a referral is required before seeking care or treatment from a provider outside of SHCS. Once you are issued a referral from SHCS, it will be entered in UnitedHealthcare's referral system within 24 hours and valid for your lifetime. Without a referral, services you receive off-campus will be subject to a $50 deductible non-referral fee. 

Does this plan cover me when I am off campus, traveling, or studying abroad?
Yes, U-SHIP covers you during quarterly breaks, summer vacation, and even if you’re traveling or studying abroad. You’ll be covered for the period for which you are enrolled and premiums are paid. In addition to being covered for medical treatment and services, you will also be covered for Emergency Medical Evacuation, Repatriation of Remains, Security and Political Evacuation, Natural Disaster Evacuation, and 24-hour worldwide travel assistance services through UnitedHealthcare Global. All services must be arranged for in advance and provided by UnitedHealthcare Global. Any services not arranged by UnitedHealthcare Global will not be considered for payment. For more information, please review the plan brochure.

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