Health Insurance in the USA – A Guide for International Students
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Health Insurance in the USA – A Guide for International Students

Written by Sarah Hastings-Woodhouse

If you’re an international student heading to the USA for your Masters or PhD, it’s important to make sure you find a suitable health insurance plan.

Finding health insurance can be complicated, so we’ve explained everything you need to know in this quick guide.

Why do I need health insurance to study in the USA?

The USA does not have a state-funded healthcare system, meaning that residents need to cover the cost of medical treatment themselves, either out-of-pocket or through insurance. The up-front cost of medical care can be very high. For example, fixing a broken leg could cost up to $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay up to $30,000.

Taking out a health insurance plan means that you’ll make regular payments (often called ‘premiums’) to an insurance company to have the cost of your medical care covered. This means you can avoid being charged huge sums of money if you are injured or become ill while you’re studying in the USA.

How do I get health insurance as a student in the USA?

At some universities, you’ll have the option of paying for a health insurance plan alongside your tuition fees. Some universities may even mandate this in order to ensure that all their students are covered.

If your university doesn’t offer coverage, you’ll need to find a health insurance package from a private company. Many companies offer plans specifically for students. It’s a good idea to consult your university’s international office about this, as they may be able to recommend some suitable packages.

When picking the right plan for you, there are some important factors to consider. For example, you’ll want to think about how much you can afford to pay in monthly or annual premiums. You’ll also need to work out how much you’d be able to pay in the event of needing medical treatment – since most plans will have a deductible. This is the amount you’ll have to cover yourself before your insurer steps in. Generally speaking, plans with lower premiums will have higher deductibles, and vice-versa.

If you have a pre-existing condition or intend to play sports while studying abroad, make sure your plan includes coverage for this.

What does student health insurance cover?

Student health insurance plans are specifically designed to satisfy the requirements of universities, so they should all cover necessities such as general doctors’ visits and emergencies. Coverage for dental care, sports activities and mental health support may be included in some plans, or you may be able to purchase these as ‘add-ons’.

How much does health insurance cost for international students?

The cost of student health insurance in the USA can be quite variable, depending on whether your plan covers pre-existing conditions and which extra features it includes. Some packages may be as cheap as $30 per month, whereas more comprehensive ‘premium’ plans with low deductibles may cost over $300 per month.

Learn more about studying in the USA

Want to know more about studying in the USA? Read our comprehensive guides covering universities, funding, visas and more. Or start searching for a Masters in the USA today.

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Last updated: 08 January 2024