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Studying abroad in the United States? Here’s how to choose the right health coverage for your needs

If you’re planning on studying abroad in the United States, you’ve probably applied for your visa and, passport, — and ordered your logo-printed sweatshirt. But do you have or need health insurance?

According to the World Education Services and, the U.S. Department of State, health insurance requirements vary by visa type. For example:

  • J-1 visa: — Students with this visa must carry medical insurance for the full length of their college program.
  • J-2 visa: — Any dependents and spouses of J-1 visa holders must also be covered by medical insurance.
  • F-1 visa: International students holding an F-1 visa are not required to have health insurance.
  • M-1 visa: International students enrolled in technical and vocational programs on an M-1 visa are not required to have insurance coverage.

The United States does not have universal health care coverage. Private companies sell most of the health insurance plans. These include plans geared toward students.

Many universities also offer student health insurance plans. These are easy to enroll in. Some schools may let you select your plan.

Check with your particular college about specific health insurance coverage requirements and options. The institution you’re attending may have additional requirements. Remember that dental and vision insurance tend to be covered under separate plans.

It’s also good to check with your insurer about specific eligibility qualifications. For example, they may require you to attend classes for a certain number of hours per week. You’ll also want to ask about a plan’s specific coverages and the cancellation policy.

Familiarizing yourself with common health insurance terminology can help you choose a plan:

  • A premium is a monthly cost for an insurance policy
  • The deductible is a fixed amount that you’re required to pay before the insurance company contributes toward any medical expenses.
  • Coinsurance is your share of the cost after the deductible has been met. This is typically written as a percentage.  For example, your plan may pay 20 percent coinsurance. That means that you pay 20 percent of a medical expense and your insurance company pays the remaining 80 percent.
  • Copays are fixed dollar amounts due at the time you receive a health care service. These payments may or may not apply toward your deductible.
  • A claim is a medical expense that a health care provider submits to the insurance company after completion of a medical service such as an exam.

Health insurance plan costs vary based on factors like age, length of coverage, and level of coverage. Some plans offer a low deductible but high monthly premium while others may have a high deductible and a low monthly premium.

When selecting the type of plan that works best for you consider:

  • How many times you typically visit a health care provider each year
  • Whether the plan covers any medications that you take regularly
  • The extent to which a plan covers any specific medical conditions that you have

Maintaining health insurance reduces your risk of accumulating debt from routine unplanned medical costs. It also offers you peace of mind so that you can focus on your studies.

Have Health Insurance Questions?
A licensed insurance agent can help you find the coverage right for you. Call 24/7:
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