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Choosing a Health Insurance Plan for an International Student

International students will need to have health insurance when coming to the United States. In order to maintain their international student visa status, the student must have a student accident and health insurance plan, according to the Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP).

Some schools may require a student to use a specific insurance provider, or a plan that meets their specifications. Other schools may let their international families purchase their own coverage. Check your school’s policies to see if they have any specific requirements.

These are a few things to consider when searching for health insurance and making your decision.

Health Plans: The Basics

When researching U.S. health insurance plans, you may come across unfamiliar terms like “deductible” or “copayment.” Here’s a breakdown of what these terms mean.

  • Deductible: A fixed amount you have to pay before the insurance company will start to pay for medical expenses.
  • Copayment: A fixed amount you will pay each time you receive a specific medical service. Copayments typically apply to doctor’s office visits, emergency room visits, and prescription drug purchases; they may differ based on the coverage you select.
  • Coinsurance: If the plan has a deductible, this refers to the portion of medical expenses you will pay after you have met your deductible. The coinsurance is shown as a percentage when you’re comparing policies. For instance, a plan with a 20% coinsurance means that you will be responsible for paying 20% of the medical expense while the insurance company will be responsible for the other 80%.
  • Premium: This is the cost of the plan—the amount you pay to the insurance company to purchase coverage.

Selecting a Health Plan

Plans with higher premiums tend to have lower deductibles, while plans with lower premiums
have higher deductibles. How can you tell which plan is right for you? Consider how often your
child goes to the doctor, any existing medical conditions, any regular medications they take, and
their risk for injuries (such as playing sports).

These are a few questions you should consider when making your decision

  • What would you do if your child plays basketball and breaks their leg? How would the plan cover an emergency room visit?
  • If your child needed a procedure unexpectedly, would you have the money to pay for it upfront if it cost less than the deductible amount?
  • How much would you owe if you had a plan with a high deductible and coinsurance involved? Would you be able to pay these costs upfront?

Plan Limitations & Exclusions

When you compare health insurance plans, it’s important to look beyond the plan design and premium. Student health insurance plans may seem similar—comparable deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance—but look at each plan’s limitations and exclusions.

These are common limitations and exclusions included in many health insurance plans that could impact your child.

  • Pre-existing Conditions: A pre-existing condition is an illness or injury that your child had prior to enrolling in a new health plan, such as diabetes. Many student health insurance plans include a clause that either includes a waiting period or outright excludes medical care for pre-existing conditions.
  • Interscholastic Sports Injuries: While most student health insurance plans cover emergency room and hospital visits, some exclude treatment for injuries related to interscholastic sports.
  • Immunizations and Vaccines: Most schools in the U.S. require prospective international students to have specific immunizations and be up to date on them. But some international student health insurance plans do not cover immunizations and vaccines that may be required upon enrollment, so you may have to pay the full fee for them.

The ISM Difference

ere at ISM, we know private schools inside and out. Over the past 45 years, we have assisted independent schools and their families by engaging in 1,600 partnerships with international school programs and supporting over 350,000 students. Through our years of unrivaled experience, we designed our international student accident and sickness plans to meet the unique needs of the international student community. Highlights include:

  • open access primary health plans that allow students to seek care at any medical provider with no loss in benefit;
  • $0 or low deductible/copayments to limit out-of-pocket expenses; ● coverage for pre-existing conditions with no waiting period;
  • three health plan options (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) with coverage and pricing flexibility to meet all budgets; and
  • dedicated support from ISM’s experienced insurance service team to assist with finding network providers, claim inquiries, billing, ID card management, and translation of plan materials.

Key benefits of our insurance plan include:

  • routine physicals, pediatric dental care, and vision exams
  • interscholastic sports injury coverage
  • mental and behavioral health support
  • home country extension coverage

When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are a priority. Let ISM’s international student accident and sickness plans give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to the highest quality care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.