Health Insurance


Why is Student Health Insurance Important?

Medical care in the U.S. is very expensive. Students who do not have health insurance and become seriously ill or injured may not be able to pay for both the cost of their medical care and their college expenses. Ultimately, not having health insurance could make it much harder for students to achieve their academic goal of studying in the U.S.

Health and wellness are critical components to academic success. Students with health insurance stay healthier because they have more affordable access to quality medical care if they become ill. Health insurance policies offer preventative care services to assist students in staying healthy but also access to doctors who can detect medical issues that need attention. The primary purpose of health insurance is to keep students healthy and able to attend classes so they can graduate and realize their life and career goals.

Over the past two decades, student health issues have grown more complex. Students may come to college with a range of health care needs from minor to extensive. Student health insurance plays a critical role in optimizing student health. Those who are uninsured have a higher chance of dealing with more severe illnesses due to the lack of affordable health care. Since unexpected sickness is one of the leading factors for family debt, student health insurance should be seen as an essential investment. 


International Students Enrolled at Winthrop University

Winthrop University requires all international students, and their dependents, to maintain a certain level of health insurance coverage while enrolled as a student at Winthrop University. It is important to note that all major universities in the U.S. have a similar requirement. 


Winthrop University's Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)

The Winthrop University Student Health Insurance Plan insures our student against major expenses accompanying an accident, illness, or hospitalization. Winthrop's insurance policy is administered by Academic HealthPlans, Inc. (AHP) for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBS). This company has a rating of A+ (Superior) and has been providing health insurance coverage in South Carolina for more than 65 years. Specific details on Winthrop's Student Health Plan can be found at  

All international students will be automatically enrolled Winthrop's SHIP twice per year, once in August and again in January. Fall semester coverage begins on August 1 and ends on December 31 and Spring/Summer coverage begins on January 1 and ends on July 31.

The cost for the SHIP will be placed on student accounts twice a year at the beginning of the fall semester and again at the beginning of the spring semesters. Once the charge is placed on the student account, it will be paid the same as tuition, room/board, and other expenses. For example, if a student pays fees using the University's payment plan, the cost of the SHIP can be paid using the payment plan.  

For the Winthrop insurance plan to be most effective, students should go directly to Winthrop's Center for Student Wellness if there is a health concern. The Center for Student Wellness is located on the third floor of Joynes Hall. Health Services can typically provide the necessary treatment or service to students at no cost, or either a reduced cost, as part of the cost of tuition and fees paid to the University.  However, if further medical care is required Health Services will refer you to an off-campus medical provider that will accept the SHIP insurance. If you go to a medical provider off-campus without being referred by Health Services, the cost of the medical treatment may not be covered by the SHIP and could be very expensive.


Insurance Waiver

The following two insurance plans are available to all international students enrolled at Winthrop University:

Important note:

  • If you enroll in the Lewermark International Student Health Insurance plan, you must also request a waiver of the SHIP from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Please note:

  • You will receive e-mail instructions on how to enroll or waive Winthrop's SHIP.
  • The cost of healthcare in the U.S. is very expensive and is the reason Winthrop University requires international students to have active health insurance.
  • Requesting a waiver of the Winthrop health insurance is the student's responsibility. 
  • Enrollment in Winthrop's SHIP or a waiver request must be completed at the beginning of each fall semester and again at the beginning of the spring semester for each semester you are enrolled at Winthrop University.
  • If you do not complete the waiver request prior to the waiver request deadline, you will be automatically enrolled in one of the approved health insurance plans and the cost of the insurance will be added to your student account.


J1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Requirements 

J1 exchange students are required visa holders insurance must meet the minimum requirements listed above for waiver consideration. The U.S. Department of State regulations require that all exchange visitors (as well as their accompanying spouses and dependents) have insurance in effect that covers them for sickness or accidents during the time of their exchange visitor program.

Winthrop's Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and Lewermark International Student Health Insurance both meet the insurance requirement of the J1 Exchange Program.

Affordable Care Act

If you are an Exchange Visitor on a J-1 visa and you have been in the U.S. for three or more years or you are an international student on an F-1 visa and have been in the U.S. for five or more years, you may be subject to the insurance requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If either of these situations apply to you, please check with the International Center for further information.


Immunization Requirements for All Students

All students attending class on campus are required to submit the Winthrop University Center for Student Wellness Immunization Form before or during their first semester at Winthrop. You will not be allowed to register for the next semester if you have not submitted your Immunization Form. For more information on this requirement please contact Winthrop's Center for Student Wellness.

For additional information on the Winthrop's insurance plan please contact the International Center.