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Ms in US 40

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Health Insurance in USA for International Students

Healthcare in the United States is an expensive affair. Not having a health insurance in USA can be a significant burden on your finances. Even though health insurance is not mandatory as per the F1 visa requirements, having one will save you a lot of time and money.

Health Insurance in USA

Visa requirements

1. F1 Visa holders

If you are planning on going to the US as an international master’s student, you will come under the F1 visa category. Your university sets the health insurance requirements, and you don’t have to meet the US government’s mandatory standards for health insurance in USA as opposed to J1 visa holders.

2. J1 Visa holders

J1 visas are required by the exchange visitors and research scholars for knowledge and culture exchange. The department of state has mandated some requirements for health insurance in USA.

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains coverage amounting to $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the emergency medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible of no more than $500 per accident or illness


University Requirement

Most universities make health insurance a mandatory requirement for all students. They also provide university health insurance plans which allow you to use their in-house healthcare centers. However, these plans tend to be expensive or fail to give a lot of benefits. Some universities offer two separate plans, one of which is costly and covers a wide variety of medical expenses and the other is relatively cheaper and is not sufficient by itself.

Universities also accept certain third-party health insurance providers which they usually list on their website. If your provider’s name is not on the list, you can drop a mail and confirm.

Not all students under third party health insurance plans are covered for the services provided in the university healthcare centers. Information about this is generally available on the university website.

Health Insurance Terminology

  • Premium: You pay this amount to the Health insurance provider/your university health centre every month or semester.
  • Deductible: This is the amount that is mentioned in the insurance plan documentation before you opt for a plan. You pay this amount each year for services before the insurance pays. Generally, lesser deductibles mean more premium.
  • Copayment (Co-pay): Co-pay is a flat fee that you pay on-spot each time the services are rendered.
  • Coinsurance: The percentage of costs of an insurance plan you will have to pay after you have paid your deductible.
  • Maximum Out-of-pocket costs: This is the maximum amount you will have to pay in a year for covered services. Once you exceed the cap of deductibles, coinsurance & copay in a year, your insurance provider pays 100% for the services. These costs do not take your premiums into account
  • Claim: It is an application to the health insurance provider for compensation under the terms of an insurance policy. Enough supporting evidence & documentation must be provided in the form of photos, receipts and reports for it to be processed.

Heath Insurance Coverage & Types

  • HMO (Health Maintenance Organization): These plans are the less flexible options where you will be covered for services through a network of healthcare providers and facilities.
  • PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations) : These are more flexible options compared to the HMOs. PPO's charge less if you avail services from the doctors and healthcare providers in their network.


While applying for health insurance in USA, look for a plan that covers a lot of services and organizations, with less premiums and deductibles. It must also satisfy the university medical insurance requirements (enquire about your specific plan) which also covers services rendered by your healthcare centre.

Links and Resources

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