8 Tips for Buying Health Insurance for International Students in the US.

Every year, flocks of students come to the US to pursue their dream education. The US has some popular and academically renowned institutions and universities. It is not easy for international students to enroll in top-tier institutions, and once they do, it becomes essential for them to take advantage of these opportunities.

The cost of living in the US is high, and so is the medical expenditure. Students coming to the US must buy a health insurance plan to get their medical expenses covered. If you are coming to the US on J-visas, you must meet the insurance requirements laid down by the US State Department.

Most US universities require their F1 students to be covered by international student medical insurance. While many universities offer coverage to international students, many offer waiver forms to be filled out if the student buys F1 visa health insurance from outside the university.

Since buying health insurance for international students in the US can be confusing, here are the top 8 helpful tips to make your decision a little easier.

Buy a Health Insurance Plan That Meets Your Visa Requirements.

The US has different visa requirements that the students must meet before entering the country. Depending on your visa, you must follow federal standards or guidelines given by the institution. For instance, international students on F1 visas do not have to follow State Department’s guidelines. More importantly, they must adhere to the institution’s insurance requirements, or they might not be allowed to enroll in classes. In contrast, international students on J1 visas must meet a strict list of government mandates, including coverage for repatriation, evacuation, and more.

Give Importance to Your School’s Requirements.

Your school is aware that not all insurance plans are created equal. Many schools have created an insurance waiver form listing the requirements that an international student’s plan must meet before the student enrolls in classes or training programs. You can buy coverage from your school or find a plan that meets the requirements (only if they have the option of a waiver).

Do Not Buy Health Insurance Coverage at the Last Minute.

It is crucial to buy a health coverage plan once you decide to choose an educational program abroad. With an insurance plan, it becomes easier for students to survive in the US owing to the high medical fees. Although your school may only require you to have a plan from the start of the classes or programs that provide coverage for the entire duration, buying an insurance policy at the last minute is never a good idea. It is good practice to start looking for coverage early so that you can review the brochure and ensure that you meet the school’s insurance requirements.

Find Out if You Need a Waiver Form.

Some schools may allow you to buy a plan from a third party, i.e., a private insurance company, and submit a waiver form. In such cases, you can either buy coverage from your school if you are okay paying the premium or buy it from an insurance company outside the University. However, the plan you buy from an insurance company must meet the institution’s insurance requirements. Also, make sure that you have adequate coverage before registering for the classes. After making your purchase, you will receive an insurance ID, which you can use to get cashless treatment. You will fill out the student part of the waiver form and send it to your insurance company for them to complete. Once completed, this waiver form must be submitted to the University to waive the insurance. If the plan’s benefits do not meet the University requirement, the waiver request will be rejected. You will have to consider some other insurance or sign up for the University plan.  

Check Your Eligibility to Buy a Health Insurance Plan.

Every health insurance plan has specific criteria that one must meet to qualify. Sometimes these plans will require you to attend school for a set number of hours each week to remain eligible, so make sure that you meet each of the plan’s eligibility requirements before you buy. For instance, OPT (Optional Practical Training) students switching from F1 student insurance to OPT student insurance must maintain a criterion before buying the next plan.

Understand What Your Health Insurance Plan Covers.

Since you will have the same insurance plan throughout the academic session, knowing what it covers and does not is imperative. For starters, ensure your plan has traditional coverage like doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions, with an adequate policy maximum. You can also check for other benefits like emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, accidental death, dismemberment, etc. You can also buy a plan with optional benefits, but you must pay an extra premium.

Do Not Overspend on a Plan.

The insurance cost depends on your age, length of stay, policy maximum, and deductible. The plans available for international students are affordable only if the student is younger and in good health. The premium increases with age. If you are a 40-year-old individual coming to the US, you will pay a higher premium than an 18-year-old student for the same plan and variables. Buying a plan that gives you adequate coverage during your stay is suggested. If you are not adventurous, buying an add-on for extreme sports might be a waste of money. Also, there will be some expenses on your part in deductibles, co-insurance, or co-pays. Always ask your insurance company to explain these expenses in detail because this will help you understand how much you will have to spend for a doctor’s visit or a hospital trip outside the network.

Read the Cancellation Policy.

Life is unpredictable- your school may not approve the insurance plan, or you may have to come home unexpectedly. During such events, you no longer need your health insurance policy. Therefore, it is vital to understand the cancellation policy to know if you are eligible to receive a refund. Based on your plan, if you cancel it before the effective date, you can get a full refund, but cancellation fees may apply after this day. So, do check with the insurance company before going ahead. Typically, if there is a claim on the plan, there is no refund.

While these tips, as mentioned above, are great to start your search for a suitable international student insurance plan, remember you will always need an expert’s advice. NRIOL.net has been an insurance expert and has offered insurance solutions to many. For any concerns or queries, call us.