As an international student seeking to study in the US, it is always advisable to get medical insurance. This will help you cover costs in case any health challenges come up during your stay in the US.
Moving to the US for studies can be very exciting especially the good environment, perfect economy, good tourist centers, and much more. This excitement can be so overwhelming that most international students fail to consider more serious matters that will be of help to them during their stay in the US.
One of them is getting medical insurance, especially if you are an F1 Visa student. In this article, we have provided you with some tips that can help you.
How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan for F1 Visa Students
Before we go into those tips, let us take a good look at some factors that can help you choose good medical insurance;
1. The Sub-Limit of your Medical Insurance
This is the maximum sum the insurance plan will cover for a specific medical treatment and for hospitalization. This sub-limit is expressed either through a percentage or a price cap and also determines how much of the medical bill will be covered by the healthcare provider and also how much you too have to pay.
2. Where You Purchase Your Medical Insurance
Most foreign students have the temptation of purchasing a health insurance plan from a company in their own country. However, it will be less stressful and much easier purchasing an insurance plan in the US, simply because it is easier to process claims; hospitals can bill your treatment costs directly to your provider. But if you purchase an insurance plan from a foreign company that is not in the US, you may have to pay for your treatment, then request to have the money reimbursed, this will take a long process and sometimes may not even happen.
Tips on How to Purchase a Medical Insurance as an International Student in the US
Let us take a good look at some tips that will guide you in selecting the best health insurance plan;
1. Know why you need a Health Insurance
Before going ahead to purchase anything, it is very important that you know why you need it.
Regardless of how old you are and how careful you can be, it is important that you prepare for real risk before going ahead to study in the US.
Not having health insurance in the US where health treatments are known for their expensive cost can have lifelong consequences for both your health and bank account.
For instance, if you find yourself in an emergency situation, you will be treated immediately but if you are not insured, you will definitely pay for the cost after treatment, and most times a two-mile ambulance ride can cost up to $2700 in bills
2. Memorize the Terminology
Before purchasing a health insurance plan, it is important you know some important terminologies that will help you to make a good choice;
- Claim: A claim is sent if an accident occurs. You can do this by hand or online. You usually need to submit receipts, reports, and photos with this.
- Premium: This is what you pay every month—or every six months—to have insurance. It’s like a Netflix subscription. But WAY less fun.
- Deductible: This is a predetermined amount that YOU must pay BEFORE insurance begins paying IF you have a problem. This can range significantly and will impact your premiums; the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly costs generally are. The deductible is the maximum amount you will have to pay in a year before insurance kicks in.
- Co-Insurance: Beyond your deductible, your plan might include co-insurance payments, which is a percentage of what you’ll be charged after your deductible is reached/exceeded. This is typically a percentage, like 10%.
- Co-payment or co-pay: This is a fixed amount that you’ll have to pay the doctor when services are rendered.
- In and out of network: When you have health insurance in the United States, it will likely fall into one of two categories—HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or PPO (Preferred Provider Organization). This means different rates for services depending on if procedures are performed by certain individuals who are in or out of the network.
3. Fulfill all Health Insurance Requirements Necessary For Your Visa
As an international student, your health insurance requirement will be based on your full-time student status, that is your J1 or F1 visa.
An international student entering the US with a J1 visa must fulfill some requirements set forth by the US Department of State, these requirements include;
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remaining 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.
Note that these requirements are also extended to your dependents, so if you are coming to the United States as a graduate student or researcher with your family, children, or spouse, they too will need adequate health coverage.
International students with F1 visas do not have to meet any government mandate standards. They have fewer health insurance requirements than those holding a J1 visa, as these international students don’t have any oversight or requirements from the US government.
Although all these policies are determined by the educational institution the student is enrolled at.
4. Understand what Health Insurance Covers for an International Student
It is also important to know what health insurance covers. Medical insurance covers new illnesses or injuries, Emergency doctor visits and lab orders, and emergency surgeries. Others like routine checks, wellness, or preventive care are usually not covered.
Keep in mind that additional coverage, such as dental or eye insurance, can often be purchased separately or in addition to basic inclusions. Further, you might also have to pay a little extra if you would like protection for an emergency evacuation (i.e. natural disasters, political upheavals, etc.) or the repatriation of your remains if you happen to pass away while studying in the United States (note that this coverage is required for J1 visa holders).
5. Budget Properly To Cover Cost of Health Insurance
Generally speaking, medical insurance for international students in the US is usually very affordable. You just need to plan ahead to pay for your monthly premium but also budget additional savings to cover any unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles, co-insurance, or co-pays.