Did you know that 20% of college students in the U.S. don’t have health insurance?
Doesn’t seem too alarming at first glance. But if you really think about it, it’s a pretty scary fact. We’re looking at 1.7 million college students, including local and international students, who aren’t going to get international student health insurance coverage for a visit to the doctor’s office if they fall terribly ill or get injured. Whether it’s too much studying, too much partying, or a random accident that causes their bodies to give out or require treatment, those without insurance will have to pay for medical fees out-of-pocket. And guess what, if you’re an international student, your fees are even higher.
Are you concerned now?
No worries! If you are one of the international students who doesn’t have student health insurance right now, don’t sweat it. This situation is still fixable. With the school year just having started back up, here’s exactly what you can do to ensure you get insurance coverage sooner rather than later.
1.) Check Out Your School’s Requirements
In many cases, international students must have student health insurance if they wish to stay in the country, or study in their university of choice. For example, many J-1 visa holders, including many exchange students, are required by U.S. law to have health insurance to legally continue even residing here. And if this is the case for you, you likely already have insurance through your exchange program and don’t need to worry about figuring out how to get coverage. However, if you’re an F-1 visa holder, which is what most international students fall under, your schools may vary in their requirements for what insurance you need and who you can purchase a policy with. Make a few phone calls and figure out what your school requires, based on the type of visa you have. Once that’s complete, we can move on to the next step!
2.) Check out the School’s Plan
The easiest option would be to go with the student health insurance plan offered by your college or university. Many schools include this insurance fee with your tuition by default, so the process for enrolling isn’t too difficult. The only drawback to this option is that tuition will be quite a bit more expensive with the insurance fee added in. When I was a student at The Ohio State University, I remember that the health insurance fee was nearly $1,500 for the year – and that was as an Ohio resident. So, you can probably imagine how much pricier it could be if you’re an international student. However, if money isn’t a concern, and you’re just looking to get coverage ASAP, this may be a good option for you. Just make sure you’re researching your school’s deadlines for adding/dropping coverage, as this may affect whether or not you get covered.
3.) Seek Out Your Own Policy
Some schools require you to go with the insurance plan they offer and you have no say. But other schools will permit you to purchase your own policy, so long as they meet the minimum requirements set forth by the university for health insurance. If this is the case, make sure you fully understand the requirements set forth by your school regarding getting insurance from an outside carrier. As an example, let’s take a look at The Ohio State University’s requirements - one of the universities which does allow you to seek out your own policy. If you see the form, you will notice all the required criteria needed by another insurance company’s policy to be eligible to waive the school’s insurance plan. If you have any doubts, take the coverage requirements for your school and pass it along to any of the insurance carriers you wish to purchase a policy from.
Hopefully with this, we’ve provided you with some background knowledge on how to go about purchasing an international student insurance policy that works for you. Health insurance is very important in the United States, with this country being one of the most expensive for receiving medical attention. So go get yourself insured before it’s too late!