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Rhode Island School of Design

2023-2024 Academic Year

RISD is committed to promoting good health and meeting the medical needs of its students. A health insurance plan is critical in providing peace of mind, knowing that students can receive the services they need in the event of a sickness or injury.

RISD policy requires that all students be covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan. The college provides coverage through UnitedHealthcare, administered by University Health Plans. All incoming students are automatically enrolled in the plan. The charge is billed along with your semester tuition and fees.

Cost and Coverage Periods

Annual Students
NEW Spring Students
Coverage Dates
 9/1/23 - 8/31/24
1/1/24 - 8/31/24
Insurance Cost
Waiver Deadline
September 30, 2023
January 15, 2024

The deadline for NEW spring students has been extended to February 29, 2024.

If you are a domestic student with comparable, U.S. based coverage through another carrier and do not wish to enroll in the United Healthcare policy, you must complete the student health insurance waiver to ensure that the health insurance charge is removed from your account. This waiver must be completed on an annual basis during the semester you start classes at RISD. It may take up to 3 business days for the waiver to be applied to your student account.

All international students will be automatically enrolled in the United Healthcare policy. If your health insurance is provided by a company with a US-based home office and you do not wish to enroll in RISD’s plan, you must complete the student health insurance waiver to ensure that the health insurance charge is removed from your account. 

If you do not need the coverage and have a comparable plan you may apply for a waiver. All medical insurance policies must be from a U.S. domestic insurance company. Non U.S. based Insurance companies or coverage provided in countries with socialized medicine, including Canada, does NOT meet the insurance requirement.

To assist in providing you with the coverage you will need during your studies at RISD, we have contracted with University Health Plans to offer The Student Health Insurance Plan. The Plan includes a local and national network of Preferred Providers, and is designed to be an affordable option. You can review the plan by clicking on the Brochure link in the “Benefit Information” section on the left side of this page. We urge you to enroll in this Plan for several reasons.

Although many families have some form of insurance, it's important to ensure that students are adequately covered while attending school. All too often situations arise where a student requires medical or mental health care beyond what is available at the RISD Health Center, only to discover that their insurance covers them only in the event of an emergency or in their home geographic region. This frequently results in students having to take an otherwise unnecessary leave of absence from their studies to return home in order to get the treatment they need. In other situations, the student’s insurance plan may provide coverage in RI, but the list of providers they must choose from is extremely limited and often are not close to campus, making access a significant problem. RISD Health Center staff members are rarely familiar with these providers and therefore cannot assist the student with any recommendations. Further, coverage that is provided is often insufficient in meeting the student’s need. The result is an added out of pocket expense for parents who must pay privately for adequate care.

To assist you in making an informed decision regarding your health insurance needs, here are some general questions to ask your current health plan to ensure that it provides adequate coverage:

  • Does your current health plan provide coverage while in the area of the RISD campus? Many HMO plans provide coverage for Emergency Treatment only, while out-of-area of the local HMO.
  • Does your current health plan cover mental health services? Many employer-sponsored plans provide very limited coverage for mental health services.
  • Does your current health plan provide coverage anywhere in the world, including medical evacuation and repatriation benefits?
  • Does your current health plan include a nationwide network of Preferred Providers, guaranteeing acceptance of your insurance plan, and reducing the student’s out-of-pocket expenses? Many employer-sponsored plans are managed-care type plans, with a regionally based preferred provider network.
  • Does your current health plan include Prescription Drug coverage, and a nationwide network of member pharmacies? Many employer sponsored plans do not provide prescription drug coverage, or only very limited benefits available at certain local pharmacies.

While many of students' health issues can be met by Health Services, there are times when referrals to community providers are necessary. At such times, the Student Health Insurance Plan provides coverage worldwide and allows students to seek care from any licensed provider, once the referral from RISD Health Services is made. Students also have access to a nationwide Preferred Provider Network, as well as a national network of member pharmacies.

When students use a preferred provider, their out-of-pocket expenses can be limited as students’ coinsurance expenses are based on negotiated Preferred Provider fees. The Plan provides coverage for expenses relating to injury or sickness including diagnostic testing, lab and x-ray services, doctor visits, and prescription drugs.

It is your responsibility to carefully compare your current insurance plan with that offered by RISD through University Health Plans to ensure that the coverage is truly comparable. Should you choose NOT to take the insurance plan sponsored by RISD and offered through University Health Plans, you are attesting to the fact that you are familiar with both plans and will be responsible for providing for your medical and/or mental health needs should your own insurance prove insufficient.

We encourage you to read the information provided and take the time to make an informed decision regarding your health coverage. To enroll in the University Health Plans or should you have questions regarding the Student Health Insurance Plan, please contact University Health Plans directly at or 1-833-251-1147.