Health coverage and medical costs can be costly for both citizens and non-citizens of the United States, and having a sufficient international student health insurance plan is beneficial when studying abroad. International medical insurance programs make it easier and more convenient to obtain quality health care in case of a medical emergency or illness. Not only is it simpler to find the right doctor and quality medical facilities when you have foreign student health insurance coverage, but you will be in a much better position to support yourself financially. Medical bills and expenses can lead to financial ruin without appropriate insurance, and preventing potential money stresses is easy by selecting the right plan.
What is International Student Health Insurance?
International student health insurance is available for students who are studying away from their home country, and offers them access to health care and facilities. It makes it much easier to receive quality health care and benefits from legitimate insurance providers, and can help save thousands of dollars in case of an emergency or illness. Medical expenses can be very costly, especially for those entering the United States on a temporary basis. In addition, many health care providers at colleges and universities can deny treatment if a student does not provide appropriate records of international student insurance coverage.
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Current U.S. Laws Requiring International Student Medical Insurance Coverage
Each state has different laws and regulations regarding medical insurance coverage, but almost every college and university that accepts students on an 'F' visa requires proof of financial ability before enrolling in a college program. This means that students may be deemed ineligible for studies in the U.S. if they cannot support themselves financially; having the appropriate medical coverage is essential to this process, and all students need to carry at least the most basic international student medical insurance during their stay. While colleges and universities cannot track if a student is continuing with their selected foreign student health insurance, the risk of getting sick or requiring surgery is still a problem. If a student cannot afford to take care of their health because of increased medical expenses, they may be required to forfeit their status as a student and return to their home country.
Why Is Foreign Student Health Insurance Important While Studying in the U.S.?
International student health insurance is important when studying in the U.S. for a variety of reasons including:
- Receiving adequate and quality health care in an emergency situation
- Having access to doctors and other health care providers to ensure optimal health throughout the year
- Reducing the chances of having to manage the high costs of health care, treatment, doctor visits, and prescription medication
- Receiving adequate health care from legitimate providers
- Reducing the burden of financial hardship in case of emergency treatment
- Compliance with university requirements and guidelines
Cost of International Student Insurance
The cost of international student medical insurance varies significantly depending on the individual, medical history, and the state that they plan to pursue studies. Rates can range from $50 to $200+ per month depending on the type of insurance and deductible requested. Choosing the right amount for the deductible is often the first step, and can help you decide which foreign student health insurance plan will be right for you. Many insurance companies review individual student medical history records, and may require a check-up or initial visit to determine your status. International student medical insurance may also be offered by independent healthcare providers in a given state, and finding out what the local area offers is easier by contacting the university or college's student health department.
Rates also vary depending on the type of 'premium', 'elite' or 'gold' packages will cover more medical expenses but will cost significantly more than basic coverage. If you are regularly sick, require treatment, or need above-average health care, it is important to review the options and ensure that doctor's visits and treatment procedures are covered under your selected plan.
Where to Buy International Student Insurance
Affordable international student health insurance plans are available online, as well as through local area networks in the state you are pursuing studies. Contacting the university admissions office first can lead you to discounted rate plans specifically designed for international students. These are often priced much lower than standard options available elsewhere, and can provide enough protection for adequate coverage.
Other companies and websites to consider include:
- HTH Travel Insurance http://www.hthtravelinsurance.com/students_plans.cfm that offers global student plans for up to $250,000 per year.
- Expat Financial http://www.expatfinancial.com/expathealth.htm that offers global financial security plans for a variety of travelers and international students. Foreign exchange students can also find a customized plan here.
- International Student Organization http://www.isoa.org/ that features a variety of health plans through the COMPASS Health Insurance group. The maximum medical benefits vary significantly depending on the type of coverage involved, but premiums can be purchased directly online
- International Health Plans http://www.internationalhealthplans.com/ that offers exclusive rates for many types of international travelers. It may be valuable to get quotes and compare rates here after reviewing various programs and packages from other companies.
What Should I Look For When Buying Foreign Student Health Insurance?
Knowing what to research and review when choosing an international student health insurance plan is the first step to finding the right package and plan for your needs. You will need to consider:
- Affordability: calculate the monthly rate and make sure you can keep up with payments
- Flexibility: do you have an option to upgrade, cancel, or change your policy or are you under a contractual agreement?
- Medical examinations: how often do you need to undergo these, and what are the guidelines of getting the first examination for verification of your health?
- Travel assistance services: does the insurance company extend these to its foreign student health insurance recipients?
- Maternity benefits: are these included, should you need them at any time during your stay?
- Low deductibles: what are the different deductible options available, and what is the most realistic match for your health coverage needs?
- Eligibility criteria: what specific items is the insurance company looking for (e.g. medical records, visa documentation, income verification)