May 29, 2022
A Guide to Health Insurance for International Students

A Guide to Health Insurance for International Students


A lot of students who come to the United States to study have concerns about health insurance and whether they will be able to afford it. First off, it’s important to remember that international students on F-1 or J-1 visas are required by law to get health insurance through their university or exchange program in order to stay in the country. There are several different types of health insurance programs your university may offer, and each type has its own advantages and disadvantages so you’ll want to make sure you understand them before choosing one.

Why International Students Need Health Insurance
If you’re an international student studying in the U.S., or have ever studied abroad, you’ve likely been surprised by how expensive health insurance can be. You need health insurance as an international student but it’s important to understand what your options are and what you should be looking for when purchasing a plan.

Which Type of Health Insurance Is Best?
First things first, you’ll need to determine which type of health insurance you’re going to get: local or global. Local health insurance is paid by your university and is often similar to American or European student health plans (i.e., low cost, comprehensive coverage). Global insurance plans—often provided by companies like AXA and Allianz—are bought in advance, either online or over a phone call. They tend to be more expensive than local plans but offer greater flexibility when it comes to choosing providers. For example, if you have an injury that requires surgery, you can choose any hospital around your area instead of being limited to one within your school’s network. The drawback? If you don’t use all of your allotted medical visits during one year, they will expire at year-end; however, many providers will allow unused visits from previous years roll over into future years.

What Kind of Coverage Do I Need?
While most international students studying in Canada will automatically be covered by their home country’s public health-care plan, that doesn’t mean you can skip out on buying supplementary insurance. That’s because while Canada offers some of the best universal health care in all of North America, it still has a few major differences from other countries with universal coverage: The most glaring example is prescription medication, which isn’t free under Canada’s system.

How Much Does It Cost?
Though health insurance is important, most international students come to America without it. Here’s a quick look at how much an international student might expect to pay in a given year—and where they might find that money.

How Do I Get Covered?
The first thing you need to do is determine whether or not you are eligible for a U.S. health insurance plan. Do you have coverage under your home country’s plan? Are you going to study for less than 5 months? There are plenty of variables and questions—don’t be afraid to ask questions! Here is a list of questions international students should ask when getting U.S. health insurance

What Should I Look Out For?
Choosing health insurance can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an international student. Here are some tips that will help you get a plan that works best for you. When choosing your plan, make sure it includes coverage for emergencies and dental care (many plans only cover major illnesses). If you don’t have coverage from your school or government, you may also want to consider purchasing additional travel insurance before traveling abroad.

If you’re an international student, it may be worth paying a bit more in premium to get health insurance. It can save you thousands in medical bills—and isn’t that worth some extra cash? While many affordable options exist, make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Weigh premiums with deductibles and co-pays, looking for plans that work best with your lifestyle. And don’t forget about dental insurance!

3 thoughts on “A Guide to Health Insurance for International Students

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