Is medical health insurance mandatory for international students within the US?


Insurance coverage protect international students from unexpected medical bills within the US while they deal with their academic goals.

By Chiranth Natraj

The US is home to top eminent schools, colleges, and universities. Students from all around the world come to the US to pursue education, receive training, hone their skills, get hands-on experience of their respective academic fields, and so forth. Nevertheless, there will be some challenges during their period of courses, i.e., unexpected medical emergencies.

International students can temporarily live within the US depending on their chosen academic programs. They will come to the US on J1 and F1 visas. Students on J1 visas are exchange students who’ve come to take part in cultural exchange programs. Whereas students on F1 visas come to the US to pursue a level or certificate through the course.

Read: What does Visitor insurance cover? (November 8, 2021)

 International students on J1 visas

Foreign students or scholars on J1 visas must enroll in accredited post-secondary academic institutions or take part in student internship programs that may fulfill their educational objectives of their home country. Students can enroll in full-time non-degree programs, engage in part-time employment under certain conditions, or participate in academic training with or without wages.

 J1 visa medical health insurance

J1 students must carry medical health insurance. The US Department of State has a set of minimum insurance requirements for the J1 and J2 visa holders.

  • $100,000 medical advantages per accident or illness
  • $25,000 for repatriation of stays
  • $50,000 for medical evacuation of the visitor to their home country
  • $500 deductible per illness or injury
  • Plan to be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of A-, or above, or an Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of A-I or above, or a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of A- or above, or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above.

As per law, J visa holders are required to take care of appropriate medical health insurance during their programs. Failure to hold insurance is taken into account a legal status violation and may end up in termination of this system.

Students can opt for varsity, college, or university-sponsored insurance programs. Furthermore, they’ll select individual or group programs during their stay. The J visa students/scholars can  decide to buy a J visa insurance policy from a personal US insurance company if the sponsor organization allows it.

Read: Why is visitor medical health insurance beneficial for travel to USA? (October 7, 2021)

 International students on F1 visa

Foreign students on F1 visas come to the US to acquire degrees from schools, colleges, or universities approved by SEVP Immigration & Customs Enforcement. F1 students must enroll in a full-time course and may stay within the US till the completion of this system. Nevertheless, they need to plan to return to their home country after the course is accomplished. If students work under OPT (Optional Practical Training) program after completing their academic session, they’ll extend their visas.

 F1 visa medical health insurance

Medical health insurance will not be mandatory to take care of F1 visa status, but F1 international students may not have the option to enroll in academic classes within the US without medical insurance. Once the scholars get accepted by a SEVP institution, they receive an I-20 form. This manner documents the whole lot, including the beginning and end of this system, funding sources, medical health insurance, personal information, etc.

The US State Department lays down no specific insurance requirement for F1 students. Normally, institutions resolve what level of coverage students might want to enroll within the classes. Since it’s going to vary, students can get insurance in some ways. For instance, they’ll get insurance from a compulsory school-sponsored group program with no choice to waive coverage, or a school-sponsored program with the chance to waive,  or  select coverage from outside school as there isn’t a school-sponsored program.

Read: Do International Students Need U.S. Health Insurance? (December 22, 2020)

 Why is medical health insurance essential for international students?

Insurance coverage protect international students from unexpected medical bills within the US while they deal with their academic goals. A medical health insurance policy covers eligible medical expenses, hospitalization charges, surgeries, doctor visits, urgent care, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, maternity, mental health, sports coverage, and more. Each plan has distinct coverage as per a student’s needs.

Because the US has one of the vital expensive healthcare systems globally, it will not be easy and cozy for everybody to spend hundreds of dollars for a treatment. Subsequently, it becomes difficult for international students to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses.

While J1 students must buy an insurance plan that meets the US Department of State’s insurance requirements, F1 students must buy a plan that meets their school’s requirements. International students also get the waive-off choice to buy insurance from outside. Hence, irrespective of which visa  gets you to the US, carrying medical insurance will all the time be helpful through the stay


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