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FAQs Regarding the Removal of the U-SHIP Referral Requirement

This change is a direct result of an Illinois Department of Insurance mandate that student insurance plans considered PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations, which U-SHIP is) can no longer require a referral – a provision that many insurers had in place for students at schools with on-campus student health and counseling centers. Prior to this change, U-SHIP enrollees were required to obtain a referral for specialty services or incur an additional $50 deductible per visit if they did not obtain a referral.

No, neither students nor dependents on U-SHIP are required to receive a referral. Eligible students are strongly encouraged to continue to first receive care at Student Wellness, unless it is an emergency, because our providers can treat a range of conditions, advise on whether specialty care is best for you, and in many cases treat the same conditions a specialist may treat – at no additional cost. 

Please know that many specialists who accept U-SHIP are accustomed to the referral requirement and may ask to see your referral before making an appointment. If they do, you may inform them that the referral requirement has been eliminated. Eligible students are encouraged to contact Student Wellness if they are experiencing any difficulties getting connected to a specialty provider. 

Because previously U-SHIP dependents were required to obtain referrals from Student Wellness, students were assessed a U-SHIP Dependent Fee each quarter for each dependent 14 and older. With the change in the referral requirement, U-SHIP dependents no longer need access to referral services at UChicago Student Wellness. Accordingly, the University decided that is in the best interest of students and their dependents to eliminate the U-SHIP Dependent Fee. 

Students needing assistance navigating care or finding a suitable specialist, can contact our Care Navigation team for assistance. Further, the list of both medical (UHC Choice Plus) and behavioral health (Live & Work Well) in-network providers may be found on the UnitedHealthcare MyAccount under “Find Providers.”

Students are strongly encouraged to continue to use Student Wellness for primary care. 

Yes, U-SHIP enrollees remain eligible for the special $10/visit copay (coinsurance and deductible do not apply) for psychotherapy with providers on the Student Wellness Community Provider list. Contact Student Wellness for more information.

Individual providers, hospital systems, and private practices set their own processes for verifying patients’ insurance information, and many will do so before an appointment is scheduled. Since there are thousands of providers in the UnitedHealthcare network, it is not possible for Student Wellness to communicate this change to all providers that U-SHIP enrollees may visit. Students are encouraged to contact the Care Navigation team at Student Wellness for assistance with referrals or guidance on accessing specialty services. 

Student Wellness recognizes that navigating the U.S. healthcare system can be challenging. That’s why we have a team of experienced Registered Nurses, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and healthcare administrators who can assist with the process of finding off-campus medical or mental health care. Students can reach the Care Navigation team by emailing studentwellness@uchospitals.edu or calling 773.834.9355.

In the U.S. healthcare system, “specialists” are licensed individuals with expertise in a particular clinical area. Examples include dermatologists, cardiologists, gynecologists/obstetricians, surgeons, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. This is in contrast to “primary care” providers who offer general medical care relating to a variety of medical conditions and health maintenance. 

UnitedHealthcare StudentResources has two on-campus representatives who can answer your questions about U-SHIP.  The representatives are located in the Student Wellness Center or can be reached at 773.834.4543 (press option 2) or uchicagoadvocates@uhcsr.com. Please call to verify the representatives’ hours before visiting the Student Wellness Center.  

UChicagoSocial: UChicago Student Wellness