Under the high-priced medical system in the United States, international students are most afraid of getting sick. So just in case, most students will purchase medical insurance when enrolling and universities will also require students (including international students) to purchase insurance.
Each school has slightly different health insurance policies and fees. And more than 200 insurance companies in the United States have thousands of insurance items. As dazzling as it is. international students must choose the most suitable insurance plan.
Therefore, here are some things you must know about purchasing medical insurance before you enroll!
01 Medical insurance requirements depend on visa type
We know that the US government requires J-1 visa exchange visitors and J-2 visas to purchase medical insurance, but the US State Department does not have special insurance requirements for international students. Mandee Heller Adler, CEO of International College Counselors, made it clear that F-1 visa holders do not have to meet the government’s insurance standards.
However, even if a university does not require students to purchase medical insurance, almost everyone strongly recommends that all students in the US should purchase medical insurance. This is because anyone may pay high costs without insurance(money is only one of them). Some international students may mistakenly think that they can bear the “cost”, but it is not the truth.
Julia Matthews, director of the Student Health Center at Bentley University, said that a major reason for bankruptcy in the US is that someday one may not be able to pay for medical expenses without medical insurance due to unforeseen or undiscovered health problems, which anyone in the US may face this kind of financial disaster.
However, for international students, specific insurance policies should be linked to universities for different schools may vary greatly. For example, the University of Texas system requires all international students holding F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 non-immigrant visas to have medical insurance, regardless of whether they are studying on any campus in the system.
Similarly, at California Riverside, regardless of the visa types, all students have the same coverage. Kelly Eldridge Hinosawa, director of the UCR Office of International Students and Scholars, said this means that J and F visa holders have the same medical insurance requirements, regardless of how long they stay in the United States.
02 Consider self-interest when purchasing medical insurance
Some international students may mistakenly think that the medical insurance in the United States is the same as in their home country. In fact, the United States does not have free medical services and the medical insurance system is very complicated and operates differently from other countries. It is therefore also important for international students to understand the US medical insurance system.
Jim Deleppo, director of the International Student and Scholar Services Department of the New School of New York, said that international students usually come from countries with simpler medical systems. When faced with complex medical insurance concepts and processes, such as payment, claims, bills and benefits descriptions, it is difficult for them to consider for their own interests.
For example, Chinese students may be more accustomed to finding a hospital for treatment when they are sick, while in the United States, students need to consider where they should go to see a doctor according to their insurance coverage. In this case, different locations provide different types of insurance coverage. Therefore, in view of the complex insurance system, international students should consider their own vital interests to make choices.
03 Each school has its own medical insurance plan
When studying in American universities, you may find that it is mandatory to participate in certain school-sponsored insurance plans, while universities that do not provide can allow international students to choose the insurance program themselves.
At the University of California, Berkeley, all international students must participate in medical insurance when registering, automatically enrolling in the “Student Medical Insurance Plan” or SHIP, which charges a certain amount of insurance premiums. The plan provides medical treatment, consultation, prescription drugs, vision checks and many items such as dentistry. According to the school’s official website, the medical expense per semester for undergraduate students from 2020 to 2021 is US$1,768, and for postgraduate students US$2,841 per semester.
Similarly, Margaret Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Bentley University Health Center, said the school enrolls all international students in the student medical insurance plan provided by the university by default.
04 Failure to pay insurance may affect your studies
For example, the California State University system states that students need to take out medical insurance before registering for courses. And San Jose State University, which belongs to the CSU system, states on its website that international students must first purchase SJSU medical insurance to register for courses.
At the University of South Carolina, international students will also be automatically included in the school’s Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurance plan and they can choose their own medical insurance. According to the school’s website, students who waived USC insurance must fill out the waiver every fall and spring semester, stating the reasons for not doing so.
In fact, many schools have such requirements. It is best to ensure that you consult the school’s health center before the beginning of the first semester to understand the specific admission requirements and ensure that you can successfully register for the course.
05 Other ways to participate in medical insurance
University is not the only place where international students can buy medical insurance. Students can also buy it through external agents. However, Ball State University in Indiana recommends that if students purchase health insurance externally, they should first contact the school’s international office so that the teachers can help verify that they meet the school’s minimum requirements.
There are many medical insurance plans for international students on the market. Sometimes students look for the cheapest plan to save costs, but the most important thing is that they must understand what their medical insurance covers. Because if students do not have comprehensive insurance coverage, it is also equivalent to “streaking”.
For international students, the school’s group insurance is a more convenient and affordable option. So it is recommended that it should be given priority.