Life Hacks

The Best Health Insurance for F1 Students in the USA

July 27, 2021

Did you know that international students make up 4.6% of the total US student population? In the 2019-2020 school year, that meant that there were nearly 1.1 million students from abroad studying at American universities.

And, that means that there were also over 1 million students paying for health insurance. As part of the F1 visa process, students are required to show proof of purchased international health insurance, among other things. 

But, what are your options? And, what are the best health insurance options for international students? Let’s walk you through your options!

What Are the Health Insurance Requirements for International Students?

Health insurance is usually a requirement for all international students studying in the United States. Why do we say “usually?”

  • Depending on the type of student visa you’re applying for, the requirements may change.
  • Some universities offer their own healthcare plans that meet requirements.

If you’re applying for a J-type visa, you will have to meet insurance requirements. However, currently, if you’re applying for an F1 visa, you don’t have to meet federally-regulated health insurance standards. 

However, as mentioned above, some universities offer their own healthcare plans that meet requirements. If that’s the case, you’ll need to confirm:

  • Is the insurance included in your tuition bills?
  • Is there an optional waiver you can use if you want to purchase your own insurance?

Most universities do let you waive insurance as a student, but you’ll definitely have to provide proof that you’ve purchased other health insurance to meet their requirements.

School-sponsored health insurance plans are typically very comprehensive, though, and they often include benefits like mental health counseling and prescription drug coverage. 

Another option is to purchase a private health insurance plan, but these can be quite expensive. However, if you're on a budget, you may want to look into purchasing a bare-bones health insurance plan that meets the minimum requirements set by the US government.

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What is F1 Student Insurance?

F1 student health insurance is a type of insurance specifically designed for international students studying in the United States. And, while F1 students aren’t technically required to provide proof of insurance just to get their visa, it’s a great idea to ensure you have some sort of health insurance plan while studying in the United States.

F1 Student Health Insurance Cost

While the cost of F1 student health insurance can vary depending on the health plan provider and the policy, you can find plans that average about $1,000 per year. However, there are tons of plans you can look through to ensure you’re finding the right coverage at the right price.

For example, International Student Insurance offers basic health insurance coverage specifically for international students. Their Student Secure plans start at just $30 per month (so only $360 per year), are very cheap health insurance plans for college students. However, that plan comes with a $50 deductible for in-network injuries or illnesses and doesn’t cover vaccinations, pre-existing conditions, or personal liability.

So, rather than focusing on cost, we suggest focusing on your needs. First, define what you need out of a student healthcare plan. Then, browse through various healthcare providers to find a plan that meets your needs and budget.

What Does Insurance Cover?

This will entirely depend on the plan you decide to purchase. However, as a minimum, most international student health insurance plans will cover you for routine medical care, including doctor's visits, vaccinations, and prescriptions.

Many plans will also cover you for emergency medical care, including hospitalization and surgery. Some plans also provide coverage for mental health care, pregnancy and childbirth, and physical therapy. 

It's important to check with a variety of health plan providers to see what type of coverage they offer and to make sure that your specific needs are covered. For example, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may need to purchase a separate policy to cover the costs of your care.

How to Waive Insurance as a Student

Want to learn how to waive health insurance as an international student in the USA? Here’s what to know.

Most international students who attend colleges in the USA are required to have some form of health insurance. However, there may be times when you want to waive that insurance. 

For example, if you already have health insurance through your parents or another source, you may want to waive the insurance offered by the school. In order to do this, most schools will require you to fill out a waiver form. 

The form will typically ask for information about your other insurance policy, such as the policy number and the name of the insurance company. Once the form is completed, you’ll likely have to submit it to the school's health center or another designated office. 

Your school will then review the form and determine whether or not you’re eligible to waive their insurance. Waiving insurance as a student can be a simple process, but it is important to make sure that all steps are followed in order to avoid any problems. 

The Best Insurance for International Students

One of our top tips for getting medical insurance as a student is to compare your options! How do you do that?

First of all, make sure that the company you're considering is reputable and has a good track record with international students in the USA. There's no point in paying for insurance if the company isn't going to be there when you need them. 

Secondly, make sure that the policy covers you for everything you need. It's no use getting insurance that doesn't cover you for medical expenses, for example. Finally, make sure you compare prices before you buy. There's no point in overpaying for insurance when you could get a better deal elsewhere.

Not sure where to get started looking? We recommend starting your search with the following companies:

  • Patriot America
  • ExchangeGuard
  • Student Secure
  • Study USA
  • Navigator Student
  • Student Health Advantage

As an added side note, we do recommend that as an international student, you try to look for comprehensive healthcare that includes COVID-19 coverage.

Care For Yourself While Studying Abroad

Outside of meeting student visa requirements for studying in the USA, having comprehensive health insurance as an international student is a great way to care for yourself while studying abroad.

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No one wants to get caught without health insurance in the United States as out-of-pocket healthcare costs are outrageous. Instead, take your time and research the best health insurance for F1 students in the USA before choosing a plan that suits your needs.

Ultimately, this will bring you peace of mind and help ensure you’re able to focus on your studies.

Save Money While Studying in the USA

As an international student, chances are that you’re looking for any way you can to save money while studying in the USA. We understand; we’ve been there too. And we’ve actually got good news for you!

As an international student, you’re eligible to sign up for the Cheese Debit Card with no SSN. And, the card is loaded with money-saving perks, like zero fees, 3% deposit bonuses, and up to 40% discount gift cards.

Sign up for your Cheese Debit Card today to start saving even more money while you spend.