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Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance

Can I request an exemption from paying the Health Fee?

The Health Fee is mandatory for all students who are enrolled on the main Stanford campus. However, an exemption may be requested, using HelpSU, by any student who is living outside of the Bay Area for the entire quarter and who therefore cannot reasonably access care at Vaden Health Center. The Bay Area is defined as Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties.

What if I study abroad, or at Bing Stanford in Washington, or at Hopkins Marine Station?

While you are enrolled at another Stanford campus, such as through the Bing Overseas Studies Program, Bing Stanford in Washington, or Hopkins Marine Station, you won’t be charged the Health Fee, even though you may be paying other Stanford fees, such as tuition.

Are there any university resources to help me pay the Health Fee?

There may be—see below:

  • Some students may qualify for aid with university fees if they pose significant hardship. If applicable to you, the best thing to do is to review the information about your specific situation at and then contact the Financial Aid Office directly at (650) 723-3058 for further assistance.
  • Graduate students with funding from a program, department, or fellowship may be eligible for support. Be sure to consult with your department’s student services administrator.

If I don’t register for classes in summer quarter but will be in the area, can I access care at Vaden Health Center?

If you are unregistered for classes in summer quarter, you will not be automatically charged the Health Fee. If you want to be seen at Vaden Health Center, one of the following scenarios will apply:

  • If you have Cardinal Care, and want to have care at Vaden Health Center, you’ll be charged the Health Fee at the time of your visit.
  • If you have private insurance, and want to have care at Vaden Health Center, you’ll be charged a Summer Access Fee (same amount as the Health Fee) at the time of your visit.

I am a student with dependent(s). Can dependents access care at Vaden Health Center?

Dependents of students are not charged the Health Fee. Adult dependents may be seen at Vaden Health Center and will be charged fee-for-service at the time of the visit; however, adult dependents who have insurance through the Stanford Student Dependent Health Insurance Plan should access care through a networked provider to minimize out-of-pocket costs.

I have my own private insurance plan. Will Vaden Health Center bill my private insurance for primary medical care visits?

No. Vaden Health Center does not bill private insurance carriers for primary care visits, psychological evaluations and short-term therapy, or for the health and wellness programs that are covered under the Health Fee.

I intend to keep Cardinal Care coverage and know I will be traveling away from campus over the year. If I am out of the area and need care, what do I do?

Within California, you can go to any Health Net contracted provider under Tier 2 of the plan. If you are outside of California, the provider network is First Health. To find a Health Net or First Health contracted provider in your area, visit or call Health Net Customer Service at (800)-250-5226.

What if I need insurance coverage before 9/1?

The university offers a month of Early Start coverage in Cardinal Care for students who must arrive early on campus in August for official university business. Early Start is only available to students who will have Cardinal Care coverage for the upcoming academic year. If you are qualified, please contact the Insurance and Referral Office for additional information.

Does Cardinal Care include vision benefits?

Cardinal Care covers one annual eye examination. If you wish to use Stanford’s Eye Clinic under Tier I of your coverage, please contact the Insurance and Referral Office at Vaden Health Center so a referral can be entered for your eye exam.

You may also see a list of local opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists who extend discounts to Stanford students. 

What are my options after graduation?

Cardinal Care is an annual enrollment plan. If you choose to remain enrolled in Cardinal Care, you are covered from September 1–August 31. If you plan to graduate at the end of autumn or winter quarter, you may be eligible for early cancellation of Cardinal Care. Please submit this petition no later than December 15th (for autumn quarter degree conferral) or no later than April 15th (for winter quarter degree conferral).