Visa Crunch

Why it is recommended for international students in the USA to get health insurance?

Students wishing to study abroad should know that medical insurance is a vital service they need to purchase before making their journey. Many universities in the USA have made it mandatory for students enrolled in courses at the university to be enrolled in some sort of medical insurance.

The type and costs of these policies can greatly differ upon their coverage, span and type. Many institutions in the USA offer their own form of healthcare programmes that students can enrol in. Therefore, students should properly research into the different types of policies available and their coverage, before starting for their journey abroad.

Students and individuals entering the USA under different visa types will have different health policy requirements. Mandee Heller Adler, president and CEO of International College Counselors said, “F-1 visa holders do not have to meet government-mandated standards, so some colleges, like those in the City University of New York CUNY system, do not mandate health insurance for F-1 students.” However, she recommends that all students should enrol in a scheme because medical expenses can break the bank in the USA.

“One of the most likely reasons for bankruptcy in the U.S. is unpaid medical bills,” says Julia Matthews, interim director of the student health centre at Bentley University in Massachusetts. “Without health insurance, people in the U.S. can face financial disaster due to unforeseen or uncovered health problems.”

Medical emergencies are unforeseen and can be quite hard on a student, especially in terms of the medical bills. US healthcare is one of the most expensive in the world and covering an individual’s medical expenses without an insurance plan can prove to be difficult. A common misconception among students is the fact that the USA has universal healthcare, which is not the case.

“Medical insurance and health care in the United States is complicated and will often work differently than medical insurance and the health care system in your home country,” said Kelly Eldridge Hinosawa, associate director of the International Students and Scholars Office at the University of California–Riverside.

Certain universities may also require their students to hold medical insurance before enrolling or beginning classes. “Many universities require students to have insurance,” Adler says. “It is best to check with your university registrar or university health centre prior to your first semester for specific requirements for enrolment to ensure you will be able to register and begin classes on time.”

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