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Health Insurance

If you are an international student going to the U.S. for your post-secondary education, you may feel mixed emotions. On the one hand, you are excited and ready to face this next challenge head-on. On the other hand, you are perhaps a little nervous and overwhelmed by everything you have to do to prepare. One of the biggest concerns is being able to afford to live in the U.S. while you study, and health insurance for international students in the U.S. is part of those living expenses.

Health Insurance for International Students in the USA

Health Insurance for International Students in the USA

Living in the U.S. while you are going to school as an internati onal student is expensive. Chances are, you are financing your education through a combination of scholarships, grants, and international student loans. Even with this funding, you may find it challenging to make ends meet, particularly if you need medical care. This is where health insurance for international students in the U.S. comes in.


Medical care is expensive. As an international student studying in the U.S., if you were to get sick or get hurt in an accident, you probably wouldn’t be able to pay for your medical care on your own. You may even have to choose between paying your tuition or paying for your medical care. This can cause a lot of stress, especially when you are far away from your home country, and it makes health insurance for international students in the U.S. critical for your peace of mind when going to school in the U.S.

Is Health Insurance a Requirement for International Students in the USA?

Health Insurance a Requirement

Health insurance for international students in the U.S. who are coming in on an F visa (either F1 or F2) or for an M visa (M1 and M2), which is the visa requirement for students who are taking a non-degree program or professional certification, is not required by law in the U.S. However, it is required for a J visa (J1 and J2), which is the type of visa for exchange students who are in the country temporarily. 

Even though the U.S. government does not require F visa applications to have health insurance, many universities require their domestic and international students to have it. This is why many universities and colleges offer health insurance plans. It is essential to check with your university to determine their requirements regarding health insurance for international students in the U.S.


Remember that your travel insurance is not a substitute for health insurance for international students in the U.S.. Travel insurance is designed to cover you for the short term, and it will not be as comprehensive as the health insurance you get as an international student living in the U.S.

When Should F Visa Applicants Get Health Insurance?

Ideally, you should apply for your health insurance before you leave for the U.S. This will in many cases ensure you are covered from the moment you set foot on U.S. soil. If you are getting health insurance through your university, they may require you to set it up before you travel. If you don’t get your health insurance before you arrive, make sure you apply as soon as you get to the U.S. You don’t want to leave yourself unprotected for any length of time once you are in the country.

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International Student Insurance Plans

There are two options when it comes to health insurance for international students in the U.S.: health insurance through your university or a private health insurance policy. Depending on where you go to school, you may or may not have a choice between these two options.


Health Insurance Through University

Health Insurance through University

Most universities offer their own health insurance, and some universities make it mandatory to sign up for the insurance they offer. If health insurance is required at your university, you may not be allowed to register for your classes without it. The last thing you want is to start your classes late in the semester because you didn’t fulfill the health insurance requirement at your university.

When it comes to universities that make their health insurance plans mandatory, you may or may not be able to have that condition waived in favor of getting third-party insurance from a private insurance company. If your university will waive the requirement of signing up for their insurance program, you will need to prove you already have your own. In addition, this waiver will require the insurance you get to meet specific requirements, such as:

  • A sufficient policy maximum, which is typically at least US$50,000
  • A low deductible per policy period or per medical condition to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses
  • Coverage for mental health as well as physical health
  • Maternity coverage for female students
  • Coverage for any pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes
  • Coverage for the repatriation of your remains, so your remains can be sent back to your home country should you pass away in the U.S.

Please note that you will need to comply with the specific waiver requirements and the above are for illustration only.

In addition, you will want to ensure you have COVID-19 coverage and get the best medical care if you get COVID. After all, COVID-19 affects everyone differently, and you have no way of knowing beforehand how much medical care you will need, which could include anything from prescription medication to hospitalization.

Keep in mind that some universities will allow no option other than using their insurance. For example, if you go to school in Massachusetts, you may not be able to enroll in any health insurance plan other than that of your university because the Massachusetts Universal Health Care Act requires full-time students to have insurance from a qualified domestic insurance program.

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At the same time, some universities don’t offer health insurance at all, which means you have no other option than to go out and find it through a private insurer. In addition, if you apply to study under an Optional Practical Training (O.P.T.) program, which means you can work in your field while studying, in some cases you will no longer qualify for your university’s health insurance program. This also requires you to find your health insurance through a private insurer.


Health Insurance Through Private Insurers

If you are considering getting your health insurance from a private insurer, the most important thing is to do your research and ensure you get it from a reputable company. In many instances, it is possible to get private health insurance for international students in the U.S. for a lower cost than getting that insurance from a university.

When looking for health insurance through a private insurer, an excellent place to start is with the international student office at your university. They may be able to guide you to the most reputable insurers. You should look for certain things in a private insurer to ensure you get the best possible coverage. This includes:

  • A choice of plans to meet your needs
  • Coverage of at least US$100,000
  • Flexible payment plans 
  • 24/7 customer service
  • The health insurer being billed directly (meaning you don’t have to pay out of pocket)
  • Convenient online access to support
  • Partnerships with doctors, clinics, and hospitals
  • Coverage for consultations, basic and emergency dental care, and surgery
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions (if you need it)
  • Coverage for family members and dependents (if you need it)
  • COVID-19 coverage
  • Evacuation and the repatriation of your remains if you pass away while in the U.S.

You may also want to consider a plan that will cover you if you travel outside the U.S. during your studies. After all, there are many exciting places to experience, such as Canada and the Caribbean.

How to Get International Student Health Insurance

How to Get International Student Health Insurance

It is wise to check the health insurance program offered by your university before you start looking for third-party insurance. You might find it more convenient and more affordable than private health insurance. When you check with your university, you should check the following:

  • Whether they have a health insurance plan
  • Whether payment for the health insurance plan is included in your tuition or whether you have to pay for it separately
  • Whether their health insurance plan is mandatory, and if so, whether they have an optional waiver

If you have the option of getting your health insurance from a private insurance company, take the time to research companies and plans or find a broker who can help you find a plan. To choose where to get your coverage, whether that is through the university or a private insurer, you will need to list the benefits you will need in your plan, including coverage for:

  • Prescription medication
  • Dental care
  • Eye checkups and prescription lenses
  • Dependents (if you have any)
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Dental and Optical coverage can cause insurance costs to spike. Typically a plan has emergency cases for dental and eye care to keep the cost lower, and it’s recommended that you get a dental and eye check before coming to the U.S..

With all this information, you will be able to choose a plan that is right for you.

If you’re an international student studying in the US and looking for health insurance, check out for comprehensive and affordable coverage options tailored to your unique needs.

Understanding Your Student Health Insurance Plan

Regardless of where you get your health insurance as an international student, you must research to find a good insurance company and ensure you fully understand the terms and coverage of the policy you choose. Some health insurance plans that are offered to international students do not originate within the U.S. These plans may be limited in their coverage and the period of that coverage, which can leave students without the help they need if they require medical care.

The other thing to consider is the cost of the plan. While choosing the most inexpensive plan you can find may be tempting, this is not typically the best option. While this type of plan may cut down on costs in the short term, it may not offer good coverage, which could cost far more down the road. It is also essential to understand that the cost of your health insurance will depend on a few factors, including:

  • Your age
  • The coverage you choose
  • Where you will be living

Final Word on International Student Health Insurance 

Final Word on International Student Health Insurance

When studying in the U.S. as an international student, you will want to find a balance between saving money in every way you can while ensuring you can live comfortably and securely, knowing all your needs are covered. Getting the proper health insurance for international students in the U.S. is a vital part of the overall preparation you need to make to have peace of mind while studying abroad. So, be sure to take the time you need to research your health insurance options and make preparations before you travel to the U.S. For more information on health insurance for international students in the U.S. or to find out what we can do for you, reach out to one of our eduPASS team members today or visit It’s time to start your international journey the right way.


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