Health and Safety

Overview of U.S. Healthcare
Student Immunization Requirement
On-Campus Healthcare
Women's Health
Safety Tips
Presentation: SHCS Insurance Webinars

Overview of U.S. Healthcare 

If you are a student or a scholar in J-1 status (or dependent in J-2 status) at the University of Chicago, you are required to have adequate health insurance.

U.S. Health Insurance Overview:

Unlike other countries, the United States does not yet have a universal healthcare system. In its place, there is a mixed system of privatized healthcare (where one must pay for his/her own insurance) and public healthcare (only for certain qualifying groups, e.g., senior citizens, veterans, individuals with disabilities, citizens with incomes below the poverty line, etc.).

Private health coverage comes in several forms, including: self-funded and fully-funded employee health benefit plans, private individual plans, state-licensed health-insuring organizations, and student insurance plans.  Employee health plans are arrangements made by employers with health insurers to provide insurance to their employees. This usually requires some premium payment by the employee, but is mostly subsidized by the employer. Private individual plans are purchased by individuals directly from health insurers. State-licensed health-insuring organizations include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, and commercial health insurers.  While these organizations differ in their operations, these plans may be available to individuals directly, as well as through employee health plans. Additionally, student health insurance plans are commonly offered by public and private colleges and universities to provide insurance to their students.

Getting insurance:

The University of Chicago requires all registered students to carry adequate health insurance.  You have two options: (1) finding your own insurance coverage or (2) remaining enrolled in the University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP). Most UChicago students are in “insurance-eligible” programs, which means that the university will automatically enroll you in U-SHIP to ensure you have insurance.  If you wish to waive out of U-SHIP because you have alternate insurance coverage, you must do so by 5pm on the fourth Friday of your first quarter enrolled in the academic year. Please note: you must provide proof of comparable coverage in order for your waiver to be accepted.  For students electing insurance through the University plan, U-SHIP does provide spouse/dependent coverage as well. 

An Example of Hospital Costs with and without Insurance:

Example: You were sick and had a minor operation in the hospital.  The bill is $6,500 USD



Without Insurance

Hospital charges

$6,500 (discounted rate*)


Health plan pays

90% (in-network)


Patient cost:

 $200 Deductible, 10% co-insurance


Patient pays:

$830 ($200 deductible + 10% of remaining $6,300 balance)

$10,500 plus interest if you have to pay in installments

*Note: This is just an example of insurance benefits; the deductible and co-insurance amounts are based on U-SHIP. However, actual insurance discounts given for any medical service will vary, based on services rendered for a specific condition by a specific provider.  See your insurance plan outline for details on your own coverage, if you have an alternate insurance plan.

What is an ‘Emergency’?  When should I go to the Emergency Room (ER)?

During office hours, we recommend students call the Student Health Service (773-702-4156) for assistance in assessing symptoms or deciding whether they need to go to the Emergency Room. After hours, we recommend calling the 24-hour Nurse Advice Line (773-702-1915) for similar help. Emergency Room care can be very expensive, even when a student has insurance. Additionally, if it is determined that your situation was not a medical emergency, it is possible that your insurance will not cover the cost of the Emergency Room visit. Nurse practitioners are available at the numbers above to triage your call and provide clear advice to help you make the best medical decision. If you do feel that your situation is grave or necessitates emergency response, head to the emergency room or dial 911 immediately. Urgent care centers (also called ‘Prompt Care’) are for less urgent situations, and will most likely be able to treat you sooner. However, please note that insurance may not cover some or all charges for care provided at urgent care centers.

Students: If you are not sure if you should go to the hospital or not, visit the Get Help Now page:

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Student Immunization Requirement

Students requiring mandatory vaccinations can make an appointment with the Student Health Nurse to fulfill the requirement.

Students requiring vaccinations for travel must make an appointment, 4-6 weeks prior to travel, with a healthcare provider. Plan well ahead; some students have found they had to cancel their trip because the vaccine requirements couldn’t be met within the time frame.

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On Campus Healthcare

The University of Chicago has one of the premier hospital systems in the United States, making quality healthcare easy to obtain. 


Paid for in part by your student life fee, the Student Health Service is UChicago’s on-campus clinic.  The center offers free and reduced cost service by appointment only. Services range from annual exams for women and psychiatric evaluation, to immunizations and basic lab work.  It is an affordable first stop for student healthcare. 

The university requires all students to carry health insurance, and offers coverage through the University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP).  See U.S. Healthcare Overview for more information on insurance.

Employees/ Scholars:

International Scholars and Employees, regardless of immigration status, may be eligible for a variety of health insurance plans through the University of Chicago. If you are in the US in J-status, you are required to have health insurance that meets certain minimum requirements. Please speak with the HR administrator in your department to discuss your options.

 If you are not eligible for a health insurance plan through the University, or if you would like to purchase a different plan, it is your responsibility to obtain this insurance. Should you have any questions about this, please contact your adviser at OIA. Please note that if you are eligible for the Postdoctoral Researcher Benefit Program (PRBP) but you elect to purchase your own insurance, you will need to obtain a waiver of the PRBP insurance.

Strictly speaking, individuals in H-status are not required to have health insurance. However, it is very strongly recommended that you have valid health insurance at all times while in the US.

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Women's Health


The Student Health Service provides many services for women, including annual exams and contraceptive services.  Many Women’s Health Services are subsidized by the student Health and Wellness Fee, so some are available free of charge and some are for a small fee.


Check with your insurance provider for information and services for women’s health. 

Area clinics offering women’s health services:

University of Chicago Hospitals - Student Health Service  (Students Only)
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
MC 3052, Suite R-100
(773) 702-4156

University of Chicago Hospitals
Women's Clinic - OB-Gyn
5758 S. Maryland Avenue
(773) 702-6118

University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital
5721 S. Maryland Avenue
(773) 702-1000

Association for Women's Health, Care, Ltd.
30 N. Michigan Avenue
Information, (312) 726-3917

Planned Parenthood
South Loop Office
18 S. Michigan Avenue, 6th floor
(312) 592-6800

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There are several ways to find a dentist in Hyde Park or the greater Chicago area. 

If you have Dental Insurance: Contact your insurance provider for a list of approved dentists in the Chicagoland area.  This way you know that your insurance will help cover your dental costs.

If you do not have dental insurance: Please note that healthcare costs in the U.S. (including dental work) are very high.  If you are planning on having extensive work done, it may be wise to invest in dental insurance. 

To find a dentist, use the “Find a Dentist” function on the American Dental Association's website.  A quick Google search can help you find local dentists; you can find customer reviews of different businesses through Yelp.

Getting insurance: 
If you are a student, you can sign-up for university dental benefits through Delta Dental.

If you are a university employee refer to the Benefit's website for dental insurance details. 

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Homesickness is a feeling of malaise or distress that occurs when one is preoccupied with a home that has been left. It is often felt as grieving a loss and typically experienced simultaneously with culture shock.  As an international visitor, you may experience a mild or more severe form of homesickness.  Read over our Homesickness Resource for information on signs of homesickness and what to do if you start to experience symptoms.

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Safety Tips

Chicago is a large, urban environment; like in any large city, visitors to Chicago should be aware of their surroundings and keep safety in mind at all times.  Below are university resources for staying safe—on campus and off:

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