The Essentials for Buying a Student Insurance Plan in the US
In today’s blog, we are sharing five things you must ensure before purchasing a policy plan as a student willing to study in the US.
Thousands of students travel to the US every year for education, training, work, research opportunities and more. But they can not enjoy the benefits of healthcare programs available for US citizens, residents and lawful permanent residents.
As international students you have only two options:
1- Buy school-sponsored or individual insurance programs
2- Purchase plan from private insurance companies in the US
Oftentimes, institutions have an exemption policy for students that allow them to purchase insurance from a private company with the only requirement that it must meet the institution’s insurance requirements.
When you approach any private insurance company, keep the following things in mind:
As an International Student in the US, you require a visitor health insurance plan to cover unforeseen medical expenses. Every visa has different health insurance requirements so buy a plan that suits your visa status. For example, students on J1 visas must meet the US Department of State insurance requirement but for students on F1 or M1 visas, there are no State Department requirements. Also, make sure that your plan meets the requirements of your institution.
Best Coverage Plan
Every insurance plan has a different coverage level mentioned on the certificate or brochure. Carefully assess it to see if it meets the requirement of your nature of stay and the academic program. You will see that some plans have comprehensive benefits while some have limited benefits. Some plans will cover an acute emergency of a pre-existing offer that has limited pregnancy coverage.
As an example, consider you are on an M1 visa for 6 months to learn photography in the US. You will have to choose a policy plan with a $100,000 maximum and a $500 deductible. In this case, you may not need any extra coverage.
If you are on a J1 visa for the next 2 years, you will have to select a plan that fulfils the State Department’s guidelines. If you choose a limited plan, you will have to pay your medical expenses out of your pocket.
Coverage Plan add-ons
Generally, insurance policies for international students cover the following medical expenses:
- Hospital stays
- Emergency medical evacuation
- Doctor’s visits, repatriation
- Urgent care
- Mental health
You can add optional coverage by paying an extra premium over your plan. The categories included in the optional coverage are extreme and adventure sports, intensified Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) rider, evacuation plus rider and chaperone/faculty leader replacement rider.
Read the plan brochure to know what is included and what is not in your plan.
Know Insurance Terminology
Talk to your insurance provider to understand all that seems confusing about the plan. Terminologies like deductible, copay, coinsurance, pre-existing condition, policy maximum, and in-network providers may appear confusing. Be clear on how much deductible and copay you will have to pay at the start of your plan. You will also need to know how much your plan covers inside and outside the network alongside what it includes and excludes.
Insurance Plan Premiums
The premium of every plan depends on four main factors:
- Student’s Age
- Length of Stay
- Policy Maximum
In addition to these, other factors like level of coverage, add-ons, destinations, nature of stay and academic program can affect the premium. Your premium decreases with a higher deductible but increases with a higher policy maximum. Your age will also affect the cost of the plan. For example, if you are a 25-year-old student, you will be charged less than a 50-year-old student for the same plan.
Be very particular about your plan choice. Make sure you have read the policy thoroughly before you buy any insurance plan. It must meet the institution’s requirements, otherwise, your enrollment in the program will not commence. Not meeting the State’s insurance guidelines required for a J1 visa can also lead to the termination of your program.
It is always recommended that students buy a plan from a renowned US insurance provider. A standard insurance plan can cover your home country’s expenses but may have zero to limited coverage in the US. The medical cost in the US is relatively high, therefore, paying from your pocket will not be a feasible option.
The points shared in this blog will help you assess the policy you are planning to buy and hopefully will let you make a wise decision.
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