Exchange Scholars and Students Insurance
The opportunity to travel abroad for cultural and educational reasons is an unforgettable experience for students. However, being sick or enduring an injury in a foreign country can quickly turn your educational experience into an unpleasant ordeal. Student health insurance is a smart investment and a required part of travel for students. Health insurance for exchange scholars and students is a requirement for the U.S. primary (J1) and dependent (J2) visas. The health insurance requirements for the J1 and J2 visa include:
- 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 the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
- an A.M. Best rating of A- or above
Because medical bills can be very costly, it is essential to purchase a plan before your arrival in the United States to ensure your coverage is active. Administrators of exchange scholar/student insurance include Seven Corners, Tokyo Marine HCC, IMG, USI Affinity, and Trawick International. These plans, underwritten by companies such as Lloyds, Sirius International, GBG Insurance Ltd, and BCS Insurance Company, provide access to a wide-variety of PPO networks. These PPO networks include United Health, First Health Network, Coventry PPO, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United Healthcare Network.
Buying and Using Exchange Student Insurance
Before you purchase insurance, check with the respective country you plan to visit to obtain the insurance requirements for exchange students. Also, inquire with your school or sponsor as they may furnish travel insurance for students studying abroad. If you do need travel health insurance to satisfy visa requirements, compare the plans that are available for eligibility, benefits, exclusions, price, coverage amount, rating of the plan, and policy cancellation terms. Check the conditions of your plan for specific details regarding the use of your insurance. Most plans typically allow you to select from a PPO network. A claim will usually involve filling out a form, presenting medical reports, and providing proof of medical history if needed. The student health insurance plans are intended for:
- J1 visa holders
- J2 visa holders
- Au pairs
- Interns and trainees
- Government employees
- Individuals and groups who are participating in international student programs
- Cultural exchange participants
- International graduate students
- Scholars and educators
- Dependents of international study program participants
Some health insurance plans for J1 visa holders include maternity coverage while others do not. Eligibility varies with each plan. More plans are available if it is the primary person (J1) seeking the coverage. However, if it is the dependent (J2) seeking the coverage, then more plans will be available if the quote includes the primary person. Please be aware that if the person needing coverage is already pregnant as of the effective date of the policy, then there will be no maternity coverage. J1 visa status does not require dental, or vision coverage and the purchase of this coverage is at the discretion of the insured.
Exclusions and Pre-existing Conditions
All exchange student insurance policies have exclusions to their respective plans. Be sure to research your plan thoroughly to determine what is and what is not covered by your insurance plan. Some plans will cover pre-existing conditions after a reasonable waiting period. Most plans will not cover:
- Preventative care
- Eye care
- Foot care
- Infertility and birth control
- Sport-related injury
- Injury or death from catastrophic events
- Cosmetic and experimental procedures
Many reputable insurance companies cover students traveling abroad. Most provide coverage for medical emergencies and evacuations with optional coverage add-ons such as sports and legal assistance. A leader in the exchange student insurance market is Patriot Exchange.
Patriot Exchange Insurance
Patriot Exchange is an ideal plan for students studying abroad or participants of cultural exchange programs. The purpose of the Patriot Exchange insurance program is to meet the U.S. J1 and J2 visa travel insurance requirements for individuals and groups of five or more who are studying abroad or participants of cultural exchange programs. The plans are available in monthly increments with a variety of plan maximums and add-on options. The Patriot Exchange plan allows you to seek treatment with the doctor or hospital of your choice, offers PPO, and provides an online International Provider Access (IPA) with over 17,000 providers. Deductibles of $100 and maximum limits ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 are available. Patriot Exchange does cover pre-existing conditions. Consult the plan brochure for further information and terms that may apply. The Patriot Exchange program also offers optional sports and trip interruption riders. IMG administers the plan and Sirius International, which maintains an A.M. Best rating of A, underwrites it. This policy’s application for individuals or groups on their website accepts payment by check, credit card, or wire. You can submit your completed form online, via mail, fax, or email. Typically, the coverage start date is the next day with purchase confirmation immediately after purchase on screen or within a few hours with email after IMG receives and approves your completed application and appropriate premium. The ideal time to purchase Patriot Exchange insurance is before your arrival in the U.S. to ensure coverage.
There is a strong chance that you will never need your exchange student health insurance. However, remember it is a requirement for obtaining a J1 or J2 visa. Examine the many plans that are available to students internationally for eligibility, coverage, exclusions, and price. Choose wisely and enjoy your travel experience.