7 Tips on Getting Medical Insurance for International Students in the USA


Being an international student in the U.S. has never been more challenging – the pandemic has definitely changed things around. As of June 22nd, President Trump has suspended work visas so students would have less of an incentive to travel to the States in this scenario. However, if you do choose to pursue your “American dream” and travel abroad, there are some things that you have to consider regarding your safety. The first thing, and today’s topic, is health – you must make sure that you are covered and that your plan supports your needs. You never know what could happen, especially nowadays, so ensuring that your health insurance plan keeps up with your demands is crucial. Here are some of the most important tips to consider on getting medical insurance in the States.

  1. Understand the WHY

First and foremost, you must understand why you need health insurance in the U.S. Here’s a brief explanation. American healthcare can get extremely expensive (and when I mean extremely, I mean it). One trip to the doctor could cost you $1,000, if not more. An average of three days spent in the hospital could cost you up to $10,000. Most students do not afford to pay this out of the pocket, so health insurance offers an alternative – paying the provider a monthly sum for getting a reduced healthcare cost in exchange. So, for instance, one trip to the doctor might now cost you $100 as long as you make the monthly payments, depending on your type of insurance and what it covers.

  1. Understand what the terms mean

Just as writing an anxiety essay for college students is difficult when you’re an international, so can understanding medical terms in English be anxiety-provoking. However, to stay informed, it is crucial to understand these terms, so here is a quick dictionary help.

  • Claim: what’s sent to the provider when an accident takes place.
  • Premium: monthly payment.
  • Deductible: the money you pay (in our example, $100) if you have a problem. The higher your deductible is, the more money you’ll pay monthly.
  • Co-insurance: a percentage that you’ll be charged if your deductible is exceeded.
  • Co-pay: payment to the doctor for his or her services.
  1. Make sure the requirements are fulfilled

Depending on your type of visa, your requirements might differ. However, most international students are F-1 visa holders, so they don’t have to have health insurance. The insurance is notmandatory and cannot be required by the Government, but it can definitely be required by the school. Your best bet would be checking with your school advisor to see if they expect you to purchase one or not. Some universities pay for the student’s health insurance, so you might want to check that too.

  1. Acknowledge what your insurance covers

Your healthcare in the U.S. will be supported by private companies, so you must ensure that you’re getting the best deal. Typically, students in the U.S. opt for insurance that covers illness and injuries, so wellness doesn’t usually get covered. You want to check those providers that offer emergency doctor visits and surgeries but not routine checkups.

  1. Budget accordingly

To make sure you’re safe and sound, you’ll have to budget accordingly. What you want to aim for is having at least $2,000 in your bank account for unplanned medical emergencies. This will make any challenging situation less stressful and might provide a safety blanket, were something terrible to happen. You should also plan ahead your monthly payment, the premium, to ensure that you’re able to support the costs. For this, save about $100 per month. Some plans are more expensive than others, depending on what your insurance covers, so stay mindful of that.

  1. Select a trustworthy provider

Healthcare providers for international students can be tricky, but with the right mindset and will to figure out, you can determine which one is best for you. Not all insurance types are efficient; here are some of the ones that are:

  • AETNA International Student Health Insurance – available in many universities
  • ISO – International Student Insurance for J-1, F-1, OPT
  • Compass Student Insurance – offers really good package deals with a monthly premium of $40 or less
  1. Other important tips

Besides what we already covered, here are some of the other important tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not delay your payments – whatever you do, make your monthly payments on time. Staying safe is vital.
  • Check your school’s requirements – if they have additional requirements, make sure you meet those too.
  • Remain eligible for your provider – some of them will want you to be enrolled in a number of classes per semester, for example.
  • Check the cancellation policy and what follows along with it.

As an international student, you must ensure that you’re able to take care of yourself accordingly, worst comes to worst. Paying for health insurance becomes, thus, the smartest thing to do. Pick one that fits your needs and enjoy the fun!

About Kayla McMullen
Kayla McMullen is an international student and traveler working for a freelance company in Manhattan. Her daily job is to write blog posts for a famous magazine.