Living in the United States can be quite expensive, in particular for students who very often finance their studies through scholarships or loans. When it comes to the expensive life in the US, even getting sick can be unaffordable if one does not take the necessary measures on time.

Do International Students in USA Need F1 Visa Health Insurance?

Yes, student health insurance coverage is mandatory for all international students in the United States. Every international student in the United States needs F1 Visa health insurance in order to be able to afford any expenses in case of an accident or illness.

Getting ill or involved in an accident in the United States is not something a student can afford. However, things happen. All of a sudden, you find yourself in poor physical health or badly injured, far away from home and family. Worrying about how to pay the unaffordable medical bill is the last thing you need.

Getting health insurance for F1 students is not that hard, though you should be very vigilant since most companies offer different plans of health insurance. You should pick a health insurance plan that fits you best, which overall is also affordable and covers your needs.

When Should I Get US International Student Insurance?

You can get student health insurance anytime after setting foot in the US, or even before you travel, through online insurance comparison sites such as Insubuy. Depending on the policy, your coverage can start as soon as the next day after purchase.

Why Can’t I Just Use My Travel Insurance?

Your US travel insurance is not the same as student insurance because it is short-term and does not have the same amount of coverage insurance for students does. In a nutshell, travel insurance is to protect you and your belongings during a trip (e.g. the trip from your home country to the US), whereas student health insurance is to cover you for any medical expenses you may have while you are actually living and studying in the US.

Also read: Travel insurance for students

How to Get F1 Visa Health Insurance?

In case you are still wondering what steps you should follow in order to get the best medical insurance for F1 students in the US, find them listed below:

  1. Check if your school/university/college in the US implements a mandatory group health insurance plan.
    1. If they do, you will need to ask them if they are included in the tuition bills, or you need to pay them additionally, and then proceed on with completing the payments.
    2. If they have a mandatory group health insurance plan with an optional waiver, check if it fits you. If it does not, ask them to send you a waiver form and complete steps 2, 3 &4.
    3. If they do not have any insurance plan, complete steps 2, 3 & 4.
  2. Check for companies offering medical insurance for international students in the US. You can also visit comparison marketplaces such as Insubuy to find the best health insurance plan that suits you.
  3. List the benefits you think are necessary for you (including the waiver form), and compare it with the plans the companies you have checked are offering. Do not forget to check if your dependents can be added to the plan if you plan to bring someone to the US with you.
  4. Select the most suitable plan for you, and proceed on purchasing it.

You can find affordable health insurance plans for international students at Insubuy

Why do we advise you to purchase a F1 visa health insurance plan through Insubuy?

  • Lowest price guarantee. Insurance premiums are regulated by law and no one is allowed to charge even a single penny more or less than the prices determined by respective insurance companies.
  • Over 20 years of experience. On Insubuy.com, you can get instant quotes for various plans, make side-by-side comparisons, and make an instant purchase of most insurance plans.
  • You get additional service at no additional cost to you. Insubuy provides the same excellent service when you have questions about the coverage, want to buy the insurance, and when you need post-sale administrative services or have some claims issues.
  • Excellent customer service. Insubuy is a full-service company that firmly believes customers deserve the best. Their staff is comprised of knowledgeable, licensed, and experienced insurance professionals.
  • Licensed U.S. Based Company. Insubuy is a U.S. based company, in Plano, Texas – in the Dallas metroplex area.
  • Easy, secure, and confident purchase. Insubuy.com is a secured web site and it is certified to be Hacker Safe and offers the simplest of purchase forms.

Types of Health Insurance for Foreign Students in US

There are several types of Health Insurance Plans, which you can purchase as a foreign student in the US. When you look up for international student health insurance in the USA, you should also consult the regulation of the institution where you are registered at, to make sure in case they have any specific requirements regarding health insurance.

Mandatory Group Health Insurance Plan

Some schools/colleges/universities in the US have their own compulsory insurance plan with predetermined coverage, which foreign students have to purchase.

The main features of plans implemented by schools are as following:

  • they are often automatically added to your tuition bill
  • usually, they cost more than individual plans
  • they provide more comprehensive coverage, including:
    • coverage for maternity
    • pre-existing conditions without a waiting period
    • mental health
    • wellness
    • preventative care

Mandatory Group Insurance Plan, with the Option to Waive

Some schools/colleges/universities have a mandatory insurance plan with predetermined coverage for all their students, but still, allow students to opt-out. This under the condition that the student who chooses to purchase a health insurance plan outside the one predetermined by the school purchases an adequate plan.

Schools decide whether the outside-plan is adequate through the “waiver form”. This is a document no longer than two pages, that contains a list of the benefits requirements that your health insurance plan needs to either meet or exceed. It requires both your signature and that of the insurance company.

Optional Health Insurance Plan

There are schools in the US that do not have a health insurance plan, therefore students are free to select whatever plan they like.

If your school permits you to purchase whatever plan you like, do not just pick cheap health insurance for international students. The one offering most services, nor least. Instead, take a look at several plans so you can pick the best health insurance for international students in the USA.

F1 Student Health Insurance Requirements

The US Department of State has set no insurance requirements for F1 students. The requirements are set by the schools.

If you will be purchasing health insurance in the US, outside of the international student insurance plan determined by the school, your insurance might still have to include several benefits.

School Health Insurance Requirements for F1 Visa Students

In particular, schools with a “waiver form” will require you to purchase insurance that fulfills the conditions listed below:

  • Adequate Policy Maximum. Usually, students are asked to purchase a plan with a policy maximum of at least $50,000.
  • Relatively Low Deductible. Schools often require a deductible limit per condition, or per policy period, as part of their waiver requirements, so that students can have out of pockets costs as low as possible.
  • Mental Health Coverage. This requirement is included since universities want to make sure their students are not only physically healthy but also mentally.
  • Maternity Coverage. Adequate maternity coverage will be required for female students, with at least an 80%coverage in-network for pre-natal, delivery and post-natal care.
  • Pre-existing Condition Coverage. If you have an existing condition i.e. diabetic, you will have to include it in your insurance plan.
  • Repatriation of Remains Coverage. In the event where you pass away, coverage for repatriation of remains provides financial assistance to your family to return your mortal remains to your home country.

What Determines the Cost of My F1 Visa Health Insurance?

The cost of your international student health insurance plan depends on several factors, including the city or state you live in, your age, and coverage.

  • Where you live. Health insurance providers decide on the pricing of health insurance plans depending on the state or county in which you live in.
  • Your age. The prices for health insurance plans in the US change depending on the age of the person. The prices are higher the older a person is.
  • Coverage: The cost of health insurance for F1 students also depends on the length (how many months you need the plan for) as well as the level of coverage (what you want the insurance plan to include/cover).

How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan for F1 Students?

When deciding what the best health insurance plan for your F1 visa is, you have to keep in mind the following factors:

  • The sub-limit of your health insurance plan. The sub-limit of a F1 student health insurance plan is basically the maximum sum the plan will cover for a specific medical treatment and for the hospitalization. This is expressed either through a percentage or a price cap and it decides how much of the medical bill will be covered by the healthcare provider and how much you have to pay yourself. So make sure you read the policy documents carefully before purchasing any F1 visa health insurance plan.
  • Where you purchase your health insurance plan. Sometimes international students may want to purchase a health insurance plan from a company in their own country. However, even though it may be more tempting, purchasing your health insurance in the US is the easier option simply because it is easier to process claims – hospitals can bill your treatment costs directly to your health insurance provider.
    • If you have purchased health insurance from a foreign company, you may have to pay the cost of your treatment yourself first, and then request to have the money reimbursed. This may not always happen.
  • The school’s requirements. Schools are the ones that set the requirements for what they consider an adequate health insurance plan. They look at things such as the coverage, the policy maximum, etc.

Comparison marketplaces such as Insubuy, offer a variety of health insurance plans for students. Compare each plan and choose the best one for you by visiting their website here.

Health Insurance For International Students After Graduation

If you intend to stay in the US after graduating, the type of health insurance you need will depend on your residential status.

If you change your status to an H-1B Work Visa, you will need H-1B compliant health insurance. This means you will initially have a short-term insurance plan, and you can switch to a long-term plan after at least six months of residency on an H-1B visa. In many cases, US employers offer health insurance coverage to employees.

If you are eligible for an Optional Practical Training (OPT), you will have to continue with your international student health insurance. This is not possible if you were subscribed to an insurance plan offered by your school.

Health Insurance for International Students on OPT

International students under an Optional Practical Training (OPT) are not eligible for coverage with their school’s insurance plan anymore. So, you will need an OPT student health insurance plan, which is not any different than regular international student insurance. As such:

  • If you had a Mandatory Group Health Insurance Plan offered by your school, you now have to find a private health insurance company which will offer coverage for international students on an OPT.
  • If you had an Optional Health Insurance Plan, then you may be able to continue with the same plan even during your OPT. You must contact your health insurance company for guidance on how to proceed.
  • As a final option, your employer may include you on the company’s group health insurance, which would entail another type of insurance. The details of this type of insurance should be provided by your employer.

Do US International Students Have Dental Insurance?

Not all health insurance plans for international students offer dental coverage. Therefore, you may have to purchase an additional dental insurance plan, which can be as an add-on to your existing plan (meaning you’ll have to pay a little extra on your monthly premium) or as a separate plan altogether.

If taken as a separate plan, it works pretty much the same as regular health insurance, wherein you have to pay a monthly premium and the insurer helps cover any costs that may arise.

Depending on the plan, dental insurance for international students in the US includes coverage for routine check-ups, emergency services, and services such as fillings, extractions, or cleanings. For more complicated services, like root canals, there is a lower amount of coverage, usually at 50% of the cost.

Does International Student Insurance Cover Medications?

Yes, most international student health insurance covers for prescription medication. If you are not sure, you should read the policy description or ask the insurer. Usually, the way it works with prescription medication is that you pay for the medication upfront and then you file a claim for reimbursement with your insurer.

Additionally, there are a number of over-the-counter medications that do not require a prescription (such as cold medicine) and are available at drugstores across the US for fairly reasonable prices.

Does International Student Insurance Cover Eye Checks and Glasses?

Similar to dental insurance, a basic health insurance plan for international students may not offer coverage for eye check-ups or prescription eyeglasses or contacts. Depending on your insurance company, you can choose to have it covered, by paying a little extra on your monthly premium.

Can I Include Dependents on International Student Insurance Plan?

Yes, some schools include health insurance for the dependents (spouse and children) of their international students as well. However, in these cases, the price of the insurance policy will be much higher than for an individual student.

If your school offers mandatory insurance without a waiver option, then you will have no choice but to go along with the insurance plan the school provides, regardless of the price.

On the other hand, if you are free to choose your health insurance plan yourself, then you can opt for an F2 (Dependent) Visa insurance plan, which offers more flexibility regarding the coverage your dependents receive.

Best Health Insurance Plans for International Students in USA

Here are the best health insurance plans for international students in the USA:

  • ExchangeGuard. Offers COVID-19 coverage.
  • Patriot Exchange Program.Offers COVID-19 coverage.
  • Student Secure. Offers COVID-19 coverage.
  • Student Health Advantage. Offers COVID-19 coverage.
  • Study USA. Offers COVID-19 coverage.
  • Navigator Student. No COVID-19 coverage.
  • Patriot America. No COVID-19 coverage.