Health insurance in the US is a pain. I’m sure by now you have heard all kinds of debates about Obamacare and the skyrocketing insurance premiums and the horror stories of people going to the doctor for a minor injury and going home with an absurd bill. Although health insurance is not a requirement for being on an F-1 visa, most universities will not let you enroll in classes without a valid policy. Overwhelmed about navigating the American health insurance system? No worries – we’re here to help!
Does My Insurance From My Home Country Work? It depends. If you’re enrolled in a health insurance policy back home that has an international component to it, you are covered per the terms of your policy if you travel abroad and have a medical emergency. There is, however, a grey area when it comes to studying in a foreign country. Are you traveling in the country or are you living in the country? Most insurance brokers recommend getting an international student policy in the US to avoid the risk of having to pretend you are a tourist in the event you have to go see a doctor while studying in the US. Medical attention in the US is incredibly expensive and you don’t want to run the risk of your coverage being denied.
So, How Do I Get Health Insurance In The US? Talk to your international advisor. They will walk you through the whole process and lay out your options. Some schools will also have deals in place with insurance providers that will make your premiums lower. Make sure you understand exactly how your insurance works though – most insurance policies have restrictions when it comes to which hospitals you can go to or doctors you can set appointments with. Also, most insurance policies will have deductibles (this is the amount you will have to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in) and co-pays (a flat fee amount you pay for specific types of doctor visits).
Do I Still Need Health Insurance In My Home Country? If your parents are paying for your insurance at home and it is not a financial burden, it probably makes sense for you to continue to be on your home country’s insurance as well. Most international student insurance policies only cover new medical conditions, injuries, or accidents so you need to keep this in mind, especially if you take prescription medicine from your home country. Plus, yearly check-ups are not included. And, if you go home on vacation or travel to another country, international student insurance won’t cover you.