How does health insurance work in college?

Almost every student I talk to tells me that one of their favorite things about PSU is the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC for short). Located right on campus, this office provides all kinds of help to students, including counseling, dentistry, the MindSpa and even free items like aspirin and Band-Aids.

When I was stressed about starting graduate school, I visited SHAC about counseling services. They were super helpful and referred me to a great counselor closer to where I live. I appreciate how kind and understanding they were and am so glad this resource was available for me.

Let’s talk Health Insurance.

After you complete orientation and register for classes the next thing you’ll need to do is confirm your health insurance option. All students taking five or more credit hours per term are required to have insurance. 

Your options:

  1. Use your own insurance (such as through your work or your parents)
  2. Get insurance through PSU

If you have insurance already you can apply to waive PSU’s health insurance. If you don’t have insurance, or if your insurance isn’t eligible for a waiver, you are required to use PSU’s student health insurance.


Now that we have that out of the way, we need to tell you more about the amazing services students can access through SHAC. These services are available for ALL students taking five or more credits, regardless of what insurance plan you’re on.

Health Services

Routine adult medical care, acupuncture, immunizations, screening for STD/STIs, and same-day care are just a few of the services offered here. Sexual health offerings include pregnancy testing, emergency contraceptives, HIV testing, and more. Students who have the student health insurance plan are 100% covered for STI testing. Students also have access to many transgender health services.


Any student interested in getting counseling services should first call the office to schedule an initial brief consultation appointment at 503-725-2800. During your consultation appointment, a counselor will determine appropriate next steps for care which may include: referral to another PSU support resource, a follow up appointment with SHAC Counseling Services, being placed on Counseling Services’ assignment list for individual counseling, and/or referral to a community resource. Individual and group counseling are available.


All students taking at least one credit are eligible for PSU’s dentistry services on a fee-for-service basis. There is no student dental insurance plan, however, the cost of services is greatly reduced compared to those of a private dental clinic (usually 30-50% less than community dentists). They offer diagnostic & preventive services, restorative dentistry and prosthetics, surgery, and more.


Play biofeedback games, use light therapy, massage chairs, and a meditation corner at the most popular resource at SHAC. Students can visit the MindSpa three times per term, and spots fill up quickly! It’s a great place to unwind or destress after a stressful midterm.

PSU is dedicated to helping you have a healthful and supported student experience. We know pressure from school, life and health can be challenging, so that’s why we offer these convenient and useful services. We are focused on the overall well being of PSU’s students.

Read more about services at the Center for Student Health & Counseling.