It’s very expensive to get medical treatment in the U.S. without using medical insurance. So it’s mandatory to have health insurance while studying in America, unless you probably want to lose your family’s life savings. Here’s a question:
Regarding student health insurance, is it mandatory to get it in India or in the USA before going to visa processing? Also, as a traveler, I know it is absolutely essential. Guide me to get a good health insurance.
There are many companies in India advertising to buy cheap travel insurance and health insurance. I did happen to face the dilemma to buy insurance from India or from here. Usually they sell as a package that has 2 parts
- Travel Insurance (During travel and while in U.S.)
- Health (Medical) Insurance
This would cover any lost baggage’s, delay in flight transit, delayed baggage’s and other things. Some plans I looked at cost around Rs 20,000. And there is a deductible associated with all the claims. Let me explain the concept of deductible.
Suppose you had a to visit a doctor for some treatment and the fee is $200. If your medical insurance plan says, you have to pat deductible of $100 per claim, then you have to pay $100 for the doctor and the insurance company will remaining pay $100.
I saw for almost all the claim you have to pay a deductible. Is it worth the cost? We have to dig deeper to see the details.
In general, I don’t recommend buying insurance from your country when you are travelling to America on Student F-1 Visa.
Medical (Health) Insurance for Students in F-1 Visa
You are absolutely right, students should have health insurance, especially when the cost of getting treatment is very expensive. Students going to the U.S. for education can get health insurance in 2 ways:
- Student health insurance provided by universities
- Health insurance from a third party provider (if accepted by your university)
Health Insurance Coverage is Must
Every college and university in the US has its own policy when it comes to student health insurance. Some schools, however, require students to enroll in the health insurance plan provided by the school and students will not have an option to buy from third party providers.
You would pay for insurance per semester and it can vary from $800 to $1500 per semester (it can be more expensive, too). It will be included as part of your tuition fee.
Here’s a screenshot of student health insurance costs from The University of Texas.
Buy Your Own Student Health Insurance
There are universities that allow students to buy their own health insurance plan from a third party insurance provider. Once you get the insurance plan, the university has to approve the plan.
Buying your own health insurance plan can be cheaper, but the University provided health insurance plan could be better with coverage options.
I have seen students from India, comparing plans from the University, ISO Insurance and ICICI Lombard Travel Insurance or other insurance from that has travel coverage.
I don’t recommend buying insurance from outside USA for students (See reasons below).
We recommend the ISOA Student’s Health Insurance where plans start at $31 per month. The cheapest plan is $31, but understand how health insurance coverage works and buy a plan based on your medical history, not merely on the price.
Varun says: This insurance is good but my college doesn’t recognize other insurance. I really don’t know what to do!
Varun, did you talk to your college to check if they accept the health insurance from companies like ISO. If they require you to buy policy offered by your university, you have no other choice, right. Plus, it maybe be better if you had to use for medical reasons.
Should you buy Health Insurance Before The Visa Interview?
It’s not required to buy health insurance before appearing for visa interview for U.S.
- Get your visa
- Decide the travel dates
- Buy Air tickets
- Find Insurance Options (College or Third Party companies)
Which Health Insurance to Buy?
Here’s my recommendation in the order of importance
- If Mandatory – Insurance from your college. Take it.
- If optional – Consider a higher cost plan from providers like ISO (ISO Reviews and Video Interview)
- Travel and Medical from outside USA – Only for few days.
Note: If you are buying health insurance provided by the university, then make sure you have coverage till your university provided coverage begins. Typically the coverage for the university provided plans start after the orientation. In such case, look for Travel Insurance plans for a few days to a few weeks.