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What International Students Need to Know About Health Insurance in the US

If you’re studying abroad, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of international student health insurance options. The US healthcare system can be confusing and expensive. You need a solid plan to protect yourself and your finances in the event of an unexpected illness or injury.

International Student Health Insurance: What You Should Know

Getting sick isn’t something on the back of our minds every day, but it’s something we should prepare ahead for. Let’s review seven key things you need to know about international student health insurance:

  1. Health Insurance Is Mandatory at Most Schools

Before arriving in the US, check with your university to see if they have specific health insurance requirements for international students. Many schools ask you to have coverage before you can enroll in classes or move into on-campus housing. The last thing you want is to show up and not be able to do anything because you didn’t sign up for health insurance!

  1. There Are Several Options for International Student Health Insurance

Your school may offer a special plan for those studying abroad—look here first. If you decide to get a plan outside of school, you can buy one through a private insurer. It’s worth looking into enrolling in a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Compare the different plans to find one that best suits your medical needs.

  1. Not All Plans Cover Pre-Existing Conditions

Before buying a health insurance plan, read the fine print. Some don’t cover pre-existing conditions, which is a problem for students that already have a chronic illness. If you have an existing medical condition, it’s crucial to have coverage that will protect you in the event of a flare-up.

  1. Mental Health Coverage Isn’t Included in All Plans

Mental health is as important as physical health. With that said, it’s imperative to select a plan that offers comprehensive coverage for mental health services. This may include therapy, counseling, and other types of support.

  1. A High Deductible Plan May Suffice if Doctor’s Visits are Infrequent

A plan with a high deductible often has a lower monthly premium. This can save you money in the long run if you don’t need to use your insurance often. But if you have chronic medical conditions or need frequent medical care, a plan with a lower deductible (and higher monthly premium) may be the smarter choice.

  1. You May Have to Pay Out-of-Pocket for Some Medical Expenses

Even with insurance, you may still be responsible for paying some of your medical expenses out-of-pocket. This can include copays, deductibles, and other types of cost-sharing. If you choose a plan with a lower monthly premium, you may have to pay more healthcare costs before the insurance company pays its share. Budget for these expenses and have a plan in place in case of unexpected medical bills.

  1. Health Insurance Plans Have Unique Coverages

Before enrolling in a health insurance plan, review the coverage details carefully. Make sure you understand what types of medical services the plan covers, as well as any exclusions or limitations. If there are red flags or anything you’re unsure of, ask before committing!

How to Stay Healthy in College

Now that you know more about how health insurance works in the US, let’s make sure you’re ready to make the most of your insurance plan when you need it.

  1. Don’t Wait Until You’re Sick to Buy a Plan

Even if your school doesn’t have set insurance requirements, you should still get health insurance. If you wait until you’re already sick or injured, you may be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This means that even if you get a health insurance plan, it may not cover the medical expenses you have at the moment. As you might imagine, this can result in a significant financial burden if you get in a dire medical situation. By buying a health insurance plan early, you get peace of mind and coverage in place should you need it.

  1. Keep Track of Your Insurance Documents

Put all your insurance documents in a secure place. This includes your insurance card and other materials that your insurer provides. You’ll need these documents to receive medical care and submit claims for coverage.

  1. Know What to Do in an Emergency

In the event of a medical emergency, you must know exactly what to do. Put your insurance company’s phone number somewhere easy to find (i.e. your desk or fridge). Always keep a copy of your insurance card with you. You should also be familiar with the location of the nearest hospital or urgent care center.

RELATED >> Advice for International Students for Their First Year of College in the US

Stay Healthy to Excel in School

Being aware of health insurance options and having coverage is paramount for staying healthy while studying abroad. Make sure you understand the coverage details of your plan. Be prepared for out-of-pocket expenses, and don’t wait until the last minute to enroll in a plan. Keep your insurance documents in a safe place and know what to do in an emergency. With the right coverage, you can feel confident and secure as you focus on your studies and your future.

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