Do international students need health insurance?

March 18, 2016

In this post we outline why ensuring you are properly protected from expensive medical bills, with an appropriate international student health insurance plan, is one of the most important investments an international student will make.

If you are a student planning on pursuing your education outside your home country, international health insurance is a necessity.

  • Adequate health insurance cover ensures that international students can receive quality health care in the country in which they are studying.
  • Medical care can be very expensive, especially for international students who may be ineligible for free health care available through government resources.

  • Most learning institutions will require that international students have some form of international student health insurance.

    Each country or region has different visa types and requirements, as do most learning institutions. Most visas do require health insurance, below are some requirements of the most popular destination’s visas that you should look into before setting off to study overseas.

Health insurance is mandatory for J-1 exchange students and for their J-2 dependents.  Although it is currently optional for F-1 students and F-2 dependents, it is highly recommended that you and your dependents also purchase health insurance throughout your stay; especially since health care in the U.S. can be very expensive.

The J1 visa is well-known as a US visa work work/study students and recently had updated requirements. These requirements went into effect May 15, 2015. This visa does require insurance, and carries with it the below requirements:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness.
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000.
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000.
  • Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

  • A policy underwritten by an insurance carrier with:

  • an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above.
  • a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims paying Ability rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above
  • a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ‘‘B+’’ or above. 
  • a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above. 
  • a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ‘‘A3’’ or above.

If you’re studying in the Schengen region of Europe, your visa will likely require insurance. 

Here are the current requirements for the Schengen region:

  • Medical Benefits of at least EUR €30 000 (equivalent to $50,000 USD)  
  • Repatriation coverage for medical reasons, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death
  • Coverage Period valid within the Schengen region and for the full duration of stay
When it comes to other popular study abroad or Erasmus countries, including China, Japan, Australia and South Africa, it’s a good idea to hold some form of international health insurance as the quality and availability of medical facilities may be more limited than in your home country and could require medical evacuation should you need necessary treatment that is not available in your current location.