Affordable Health Insurance for International Students in USA | A complete Guide

how to get the best affordable student international health insurance in USA at low cost for all students.
Affordable Health Insurance for International Students in USA | A complete Guide

Affordable Health Insurance for International Students in USA: Among the many criteria students are to meet while studying abroad is the student international health insurance.

Of course studying in USA is going to be fun and exciting, but just in case there is a health issue along the way, you need a health insurance to foot the bills. In USA, the best health insurance cost for international students can be affordable.

So, if you’re wondering “Can international students get health insurance?”, Or how to get it or what the insurance scheme is all about, then this piece answers all in a click.

Content Summary

What is International Student Health Insurance?

Health insurance plans for international students provide the right mix of plan benefits, value, and coverage to keep you safe and healthy. Just like other health insurance scheme, the international student variety is no much different. You can refer to it as the regular health insurance.

However, the differentiating factor is that for the students, policies are designed to suit them. What this means is that some factors are put into consideration to ensure students seeking how to get health insurance for international students get that at an affordable cost.

Health insurance for international students comes with a lot of benefits such as

  • Affordable cost of health insurance.
  • Also, it can last through out the study abroad period.
  • This insurance scheme also complies with the student visa requirements.

Does a Student Need Health Insurance in USA?

Without mincing words, healthcare in USA is beyond your reach. And taking care of your health is a necessary devil. To that regard, a policy comes into play to make healthcare affordable for an international student via the health insurance scheme. So why do I need this insurance scheme;

  • Healthcare in USA is really expensive.
  • Aside the expensive nature of healthcare, you need the health insurance because healthcare cost for international students in USA are higher than for citizens. This is so because internationals are not protected under any government scheme.
  • Also, many countries have made student health insurance compulsory. So whether you’re applying for high school or Master’s scholarships, you need to secure this insurance.
  • In addition, a good student international health insurance policy gives you peace of mind, knowing that you can access medical care anytime. In other words, you won’t need to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills.

See: 17 Easy Ways on How to Apply for Scholarships. Also, if you’re about to for for scholarship interview and absolutely do not know what to expect, click here to see possible questions and answers.

What Does Health Insurance Cover?

Like the name suggests, this insurance plan should foot your medical needs. Largely, Health insurance for international students in USA covers for most medical emergencies, illness, and treatment. Basically, it should cover the following;

  • Maternity.
  • Mental health.
  • Local ambulances.
  • X-rays and lab work.
  • Dental emergencies.
  • Prescription medication.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Injuries as a result of playing sports.
  • Repatriation and Return of Mortal Remains
  • Non-emergency dental coverage, such as checkups, fillings, etc.
  • Emergency medical evacuation. (This comes in handy when you have to be transferred to your home country or somewhere else abroad to receive medical treatment. The heath insurance plan will foot the bills)
  • In-patient medical treatment. (Receiving medical care while hospitalized. Things such as a hospital room, ICU, anaesthesia, surgery.)
  • Out-patient medical treatment. (If you have to receive medical attention or recovering while not hospitalized. Things such as physician visits, walk-in clinics.)

Kindly note that depending on the plan, you can have coverage for all or some of these. Therefore, we recommend you choose a plan that answers your medical need.

What are the Health Insurance Options for International Students in USA?

Talking about options of student international health insurance, it must be in sync with the institution regulation. It can be really difficult to make a choice of either of these options, checking out their specific requirements will aid guide you aright. Here are the main types that you can choose from:

Mandatory Group Plan

Basic Features

  • Often automatically added to your tuition bill
  • Usually, they cost more than individual plans
  • Provides more comprehensive coverage, including:
    • Wellness
    • Mental health
    • Preventative care
    • Coverage for maternity
    • Pre-existing conditions without a waiting period

Kindly note that some schools in USA have their own compulsory plans with predetermined coverage, which foreign students have to purchase. So if the Mandatory group plan is not applicable to you, do not purchase.

Mandatory Group, with the Option to Waive

For this student international health insurance plan, students have the option to opt out. However, it must be under the condition that the student who chooses to purchase health insurance in USA outside the one predetermined by the school purchases an adequate plan.

And mind you, it’s not for you to decide. The school determines whether the outside-plan is adequate through the “waiver form”. Keep in mind that the waiver document is no longer than two pages. In it contains a list of the benefits requirements that your health insurance policy needs to either meet or exceed.

Optional Plan

Here, there is no compulsory rule that restricts the student to a health insurance plan provided by the school. In other words, you’re free to select whatever plan you like. However, this doesn’t not mean you should go for the inadequate one. Instead, take a look at several plans so you can pick the best health insurance for international students in the USA.

When Can I Get the Student International Health Insurance Plan?

Literally, there are two basic ways to get the student international insurance plan. After arriving to your study destination or before your arrival. The “Before arrival” plan is usually gotten online from an international insurance company. This option is usually a great option because students don’t have to run the streets of USA looking for health insurance plans.

Secondly, you can get the insurance plan after arrival. You can achieve this by subscribing to a local insurance company or the insurance plan offered by your school.

What Is the Best Health International Students Insurance Plan?

The “best” international students health insurance depends on what you want. However, there are a general criteria on what you should look out for. For you to consider a student international health insurance good, it should have adequate coverage for most medical needs. Also, what the best health international students insurance plan is, should answer these questions to a considerable extent!

#1. Does it have international coverage

You’re going to study abroad in USA, therefore, your first check is to know if the students health insurance is international. Also, whether you’re traveling for holidays or visiting back home, you should get international health insurance.

#2. What’s the policy maximum?

This question considers the amount of money the insurance company will pay for an incident or illness. Also it covers how long the insurance policy is going to last. We recommend you choose a plan with a maximum you are comfortable with.

#3. Does it cover all the items you need?

Remember, we listed what a good health insurance should cover above. What you should consider the best student international health insurance is if it covers al the items. Dental? Emergency evacuation? Medication and medical treatment? Maternity? etc.

#4. How much is the deductible?

Find out how much money you have to pay yourself before the health insurance company takes over and pays for the rest. Usually, it ranges from $0 to thousands of dollars. But keep in mind that the lower the deductible, the more the policy will cost and vice versa.

#5. Does it meet your school’s requirements?

Like earlier established, most universities or colleges require to present a health insurance plan. Therefore when making a choice, ensure it meets the universities guidelines regarding that type of health insurance their international students must get.

#6. Does it have a PPO Network?

What’s PPO? Well, this may go by different names, however, in essence, it means that the insurance company has certain “preferred” facilities where you can receive treatment. In other words, a place or facility linked to them where you can receive treatment. Note that the facilities have the option to bill the company directly for any expenses, instead of you having to pay and then claim for reimbursement.

#7. Is the health insurance affordable?

One of the advantage of what the best health insurance for international students is that it is affordable: less cost. However, do not choose the cheapest student insurance policy. If it does not cover you adequately, in cases of emergency, it will end up costing you more.

#8. What’s the sub-limit of your health insurance,?

Basically this explains the maximum sum the plan will cover for a specific medical treatment and hospitalization. Usually, this is expressed in percentage or a price cap. This percentage determines how much of the medical bill will the healthcare provider will cover. Consequently, you will have to cover the remaining percentage.

#9. Where you purchase your health insurance.

Kindly note that purchasing a health insurance plan as an international student in USA is preferable. This is so because, healthcare facilities in USA are top rated and the hospitals can bill your treatment costs directly to your provider.

#10. The school’s requirements.

Whether the insurance is the best in USA or not, if it’s not recommended or accepted by your school, forfeit it.

Do you want to go for an exchange program? Check out the Best Colleges for Exchange Programs.

How to Get Health Insurance for International Students?

purchase your health insurance

It’s one thing to know you need a health insurance as an international student in USA, and it’s another thing to know how to get it. Basically, there are three main options international students get health insurance. And depending on the one that works for you, they’re all acknowledged. Here’s how to get health insurance;

International student health insurance

Most health insurance scheme are online. In it, you can find options available for expats, travellers, and international students. As the name suggests, this insurance policy offer coverage in more than one country . So, if you are not sure of the country of destination yet, this plan will be good for you. Also, whether you’re going to study in Australia or Germany, you can rest assured your health is covered.

Through the school

Universities or colleges in USA oftentimes offers international students a health insurance which they can subscribe to. In some cases, it is compulsory, other times you can opt-out and choose your own policy elsewhere. However, no matter where you choose from, it must be in line with the university guideline for health insurance for international students. Here’s what we recommend, if your school have this option, take it. But if they offer you an opt-out policy, make sure to read it carefully before making a decision.

Private health insurance.

Anywhere you go, there will be private health insurance companies who make provisions for international students. So, if your school does not offer a plan, and the government ain’t helpful, do your research and buy a student visa-compliant insurance plan from a local company. The not to good news about this option is that, it can be country specific. In other words, you might get to use this plan in another country other than the country of purchase.

Also, you might want to check out other student international health insurance plans through comparison websites. Regardless of what type of student health insurance you choose, remember to always read the policy carefully!

Then, What’s Next?

Once you’ve taken note of the above, you need to secure one. Here are the steps to go through to get a health insurance coverage for international students in USA:

  • Consider if your school/university/college in USA implements a mandatory group health insurance plan.
  • If they do, find out if it’s included in the tuition bills. If not, pay up and then proceed with completing the payments.
  • On the other hand, if they have a mandatory group health insurance plan with an optional waiver, find out if it fits you. If it does not, ask for a waiver form and complete the other steps.
  • But just in case they have no health insurance plan for you. Follow the steps below.
  • Look out for private companies or brokers offering health insurance for international students in USA
  • Compare the company plans with the benefits you think are necessary for you (including the waiver form). Also, do not forget to check if you can add dependents to the plan. Of course that’s if you plan to bring someone to the US with you.
  • After these, make a choice of the most suitable plan for you, and proceed with purchasing it.

How Much Does International Student Health Insurance Cost in USA?

One thing you must consider when seeking a student international health insurance is the cost. Seeking what the best health insurance for international students is is one thing. Can your health insurance plan cover the cost for the best?

The health insurance cost for international students in USA depends on many factors. The list includes;

Age of the Student

Age is the primary determining factor for price. Insurance companies often charge different amounts for different age groups, with the price increasing for older age groups.

The Duration of Study

The lesser the number of years or months, the more affordable it can be. If you were pursuing an entire four-year degree, that will cost much.

How much coverage you want.

Like earlier stated, what constitutes your student health insurance plan determines the cost. Addition of optional coverage items, such as sports, dental, vision, or maternity, will increase the health insurance cost for international students in USA.

Inclusion of dependents

This will increase the health insurance cost for international students in USA

Also, international student health insurance plan which covers more places costs more.

In addition, health insurance plans that include the USA are more expensive than those that do not. Therefore, select the country of coverage wisely.

In a bid to give you an estimated cost, a one-year health insurance plan for an international student in the US can range from $500 to over $1,000.

What Do Most Schools Except From International Student Health Insurance in USA?

All schools have an expectation of each health plan. To that regard, students health insurance plan must fulfill the conditions or requirements below;

  • Usually, students are asked to purchase a plan with a policy maximum of at least $50,000.
  • Also, all health insurance for students in USA must have be low deductible. Often, schools require a deductible limit per condition, or per policy period. This is part of their waiver requirements, in order to aid students have out of pockets costs as low as possible.
  • Pre-existing Condition Coverage. Also, if you have an existing condition i.e. diabetic, you will have to include it in your insurance plan.
  • In addition, schools expect your health insurance plan to constitute of mental health coverage. This requirement is to ensure students are not only physically healthy but also mentally.
  • Peculiar to the female student is the maternity coverage plan. Adequate maternity coverage with at least an 80%coverage in-network for pre-natal, delivery and post-natal care is expected.
  • In the event where you pass away, coverage for repatriation of remains provides financial assistance to your family to return your mortal remains to your home country.

Top 6 Affordable Health Insurance For International Students

There are different student international health insurance in USA. Depending on the factors above, you can make a choice. However, to help you streamline your search, we bring to your fingertips, the top 6 health insurance for international students in USA. They include

#1. Study USA Health Insurance

  • Policy Maximum: 30-364 days
  • Emergency Health Care
  • 24-Hour Assistance Services
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation
  • Illness and Medical Expense Protection
  • COVID-19 coverage (Plus, Preferred and Platinum plans only)

This health insurance plan gives students the allowance to choose the level a coverage. This will help them find the right plan for your health needs and budget.

Upon registration, the student get an an instant confirmation and ID card. These will be sent via email and serve as a proof of coverage for the school.

Study USA-Healthcare is renewable for up to 4 years. The cost for this students international health insurance plan starts at $1.54/day. Also, this is open to students under 25 years. Here’s the coverage expectation;

#2. GeoBlue Navigator for Student Health Insurance

  • Policy maximum: 3 months to 364 days
  • Unlimited annual and lifetime medical maximum
  • Deductible options: $0, $250, $500, $1000, $2500, $5000
  • Covid19 coverage necessary COVID-19 testing and treatment.

This plan provides unlimited annual and lifetime medical services worldwide. Also, this plan covers pre-existing students health conditions with creditable coverage. About the cost of this students international health insurance is calculated monthly.

Open to students aged 74years and below. Also, only students with US Citizenship, students who are permanent residents of USA and all students who are legal residents of US (citizens and foreign nationals) are eligible.

#3. Patriot Exchange Program

  • Insurance provider: International Medical Group
  • Deductible options from $0 to $500
  • Policy Maximum limit of $5,000,000

This is a health insurance plan for international students or participants of cultural exchange programs. Most plan options are designed to meet the U.S. J1 and J2 visa travel insurance requirements. Also, this plan offers a complete package available 24 hours a day. It’s plan provide coverage for dependents.

To apply, you must be residing in the host country. Also, all applicants must not be hospitalized, disabled, or HIV+ on the initial effective date. Most consider it as an affordable student health insurance plan.

#4. Student Health Advantage Health Insurance

  • Insurance Provider: International Medical Group
  • Policy Maximum: $1,000,000
  • Deductible: $100

This plan provides comprehensive medical insurance to students and scholars pursuing their education outside their home country. Basically, there are two major plan options available: standard and platinum plan.

Also, this covers mental health, organized sports and pre-existing conditions. If there is no break in coverage, the plan may be renewed for up to five years. Also, both USA and Non-USA students are eligible to apply.

#5. Patriot America Insurance

  • Insurance Provider: Sirius Specialty Insurance Corporation
  • Policy maximum: $50,000 to $1,000,000
  • Deductibles: $0 to $2,500.

The patriot America Insurance is a comprehensive travel health insurance for all non-U.S. residents visiting USA. You can consider Patriot America an an affordable health insurance plan because it’s cost efficient . Also, this can last for 5 days to 2 years and usually online. Application requires the date of birth, passport number, name and travel dates of the traveler(s).

#6. ExchangeGuard Insurance Policy

Policy maximum: $100,000, $250,000, or $500,000

This is one of the student international health insurance in USA that has many policy maximum, coinsurance, and deductible choices. Students get to choose from many varieties to meet their different medical needs.

Oftentimes, ExchangeGuard is regarded as one of the best health insurance plan for international students in USA. Kindly note that the primary visa holder must either be studying, researching, teaching or participating in a cultural exchange program in the U.S.

Furthermore, this plan meets the requirements of many universities, international students, and J visa holders. Also, it provides coverage for medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains. Basically there are two options you can choose from: ExchangeGuard Choice or the ExchangeGuard Essential. Both have different durations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student International Health Insurance in USA

Can I Be Treated at Student Health Centers?

Yes, you can. Some student international health insurance plans will cover for expenses resulting from seeking treatment in a student health center. Although up to a certain amount.

When Should F1 Visa Applicants Get Health Insurance?

For F1 visa applicants, a peculiar way of getting student health insurance plan is mapped out. It’s scheduled that students with F1 visa get their health insurance anytime after setting foot in USA. Or you can get that even before you travel to your study destination.

Why Can’t I Just Use My Travel Insurance?

Here’s why!!! Your travel insurance covers just your travel expenses. And for what it’s worth, it’s not the same as international student insurance. In a nutshell, travel insurance are there to protect you and your belongings during a trip (e.g. the trip from your home country to the US). On the other hand, a student health insurance covers any medical expenses for the period of study.

How Do I Make a Health Insurance Claim as an International Student?

Purchasing a health insurance plan for students in USA comes with a brochure. In it, there is a detailed guide containing all the information you need regarding how to make a health insurance claim. But just in case the brochure doesn’t speak your language of understanding, you can contact the company directly to learn. I’m sure you will find a call center and helplines, which are available for their costumers to seek help or guidance.

Do I Lose Student Health Insurance If I Get a Job?

Well, yes you will loose your affordable student international health insurance if you get a job. How does that happen? If you get a job upon graduation, you will exchange your student visa into a work visa. Once this is done, you automatically no longer qualify for student insurance. In that case, you have to get regular expat health insurance. And sadly, this might cost much!


An affordable student international health insurance is available in USA. Most of the health insurance cost for international students in USA can be bypassed by proper research. Once you have got a health insurance plan, always keep any bills, prescriptions, or other documents that prove you received medical attention.

You need these when you make a claim. Good luck scholar!!!!


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