Health Care/Insurance

Unless you opt out because of your own private plan, the department pays your coverage with the Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Student health insurance is excellent – it covers regular appointments and urgent-care cost-free, has specialty appointments (physical therapy, x-rays) at reduced rate, includes a dental plan, minor co-pays for prescriptions, and covers 80% of most services outside the campus health network. Berkeley SHIP is divided into three insurance carriers: Aetna Student Health for medical and mental health, MetLife for dental coverage, and VSP for vision coverage.

University Health Services is housed in the Tang Center (2222 Bancroft, across from the soccer stadium). Tang is a nearly full-featured hospital, including urgent care, medical offices, physical therapy, lab, pharmacy, and self-service information center. Benefits include:

  • $15 copay for a Primary Care office visit and $30 for an Urgent Care clinic visit
  • Prescriptions filled at the UHS Pharmacy for a minimal cost ($5 co-pay for generic medications, $25 for brand name); birth control is covered at 100%
  • One free adult preventative services visit (including routine mammograms, PAP smears, and prostate cancer screenings) per year
  • 10% of UHS fees for most other services
  • No lifetime maximum cap on coverage!

You can read the full list of SHIP benefits here.

Counseling and Psychological Services are also offered at the Tang Center. If you would like to talk with a counselor, or psychiatrist, there are staff members available on the 3rd floor of the Tang Health Center. They provide brief emergency counseling as well as regular sessions and evaluations for depression and other mental health concerns on a short-term basis (generally five appointments or less). With SHIP, the first five sessions are free, and follow-up appointments are only $15 for SHIP members. UHS also offers referrals to local private psychiatrists and psychologists for more long-term counseling, which are covered by SHIP at 80% of cost. The Tang Center also provides support groups and general mental health information.

The Berkeley School of Optometry offers one eye exam per year at reduced rates ($10 copay) and has a center where you can fill prescriptions for eyewear. For a $25 copay, you are also able to get new glasses or contacts (up to a $120 value) every 12 months.

Dental coverage is also included under SHIP through the insurance provider MetLife. SHIP covers two standard dental appointments for cleaning annually at no cost. Most other dental services are covered 80%. Though dental services are not available at the Tang Center, a list of local dentists can be found on the MetLife website. Graduate student recommended dentists are listed below.

  • Bill Cavalli, D.D.S.
  • Barbara Curtis, D.D.S.
  • Hosein Bafava, D.D.S.
  • Thomas Smithers, D.D.S.

For emergency room services or after-hours urgent care, the closest ER is at Alta Bates Hospital (at the corner of Ashby Avenue and Telegraph Avenue), or dial 911. Your emergency treatment can be covered by SHIP retroactively, so don’t stop yourself from getting treatment if it’s not during business hours.

Note: Health insurance is a part of the registration fee. If a student opts out of SHIP, they can not expect to receive the difference personally to themselves. Since the funding source is the Department (Research Director) the reimbursement will come back to the Department. So in many cases, it is better to not opt out of SHIP and just have two insurance policies.

Making Sure You’re Covered:

  1. When visiting the Tang Center, make sure to bring your Cal1Card photo ID. This card will provide you access to services within the Tang Center.
  2. Aetna insurance cards generally arrive a few weeks after the semester has begun. Make sure to keep your address updated with Tele-Bears or Bear Facts so your Aetna card is sent to the correct address. Carry your card with you for off-campus care, as SHIP contracts with Aetna to provide medical and mental health services outside of the Tang Center. Further details about Aetna are forthcoming, so make sure to check in with the Tang Center’s FAQ section!