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How to buy health insurance for the first time as a student

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to study abroad, and your school or university says it offers health insurance coverage, a welcome add-on for an international student. Whether in the U.S., in the middle of Europe, or somewhere in the Asia Pacific, having health insurance provided is a big bonus.

But hold on a second. Did you know the coverage offered could be limited in options and restrictive regarding healthcare providers? You may not have all your needs accounted for, which can be annoying. These can be problematic for international students.

So what do you need to know, and how do you buy insurance for the first time as a student studying abroad? Let’s find out in this Pacific Prime Latin America article.

Individual health insurance blog

Things you need to know about medical insurance for students

Whether studying in sunny Florida in the U.S. or heading to Singapore in Southeast Asia, you’ll need a sound and comprehensive medical insurance plan.

Entering the U.S. to study?

If you are heading to the U.S. on a J1 visa, you’ll need adequate health insurance that meets the requirements of the US Department of State (also known as the visa authorities). As of this writing, the J1 visa insurance requirements include:

  • Medical benefits of at least USD $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains coverage of at least USD $25,000
  • Expenses associated with emergency medical evacuation to your home country totaling USD $50,000
  • A deductible amount of no more than USD $500 per accident or illness

How about F1 and M1 visas? For more details, check our dedicated guide to international health insurance requirements for F1, J1, and M1 visas.

Health insurance in the U.S.

Speaking of the U.S., the country is known in the international community and insurance world for having one of the highest healthcare costs in the world, as well as the most expensive premiums for individuals and families, according to Pacific Prime’s Cost of International Health Insurance Report 2021-2022.

Note: A premium is the amount policyholders must pay annually, bi-annually, semi-annually, or monthly for their health insurance policy. Students looking to purchase health insurance in the marketplace should have adequate funds in their bank accounts. Otherwise, your insurer may terminate your coverage. 

How much does international student health insurance cost in the U.S.?

According to our article, International student health insurance: What you need to know, US health insurance is formidably expensive, but the good news is that the cost of US international student health insurance plans tends to be more affordable. International students under 25 can pay anywhere from USD $30 to $140 per month, depending on the level of coverage. However, prices also increase the older you get. For instance, a plan can cost around USD $300 a month for individuals around 40. As time passes, premiums tend to increase in line with medical inflation.

Consider asking your school what the health insurance benefits are

Remember that your school’s health insurance may not have high limits (depending on their terms & conditions), and add-ons like emergency evacuation or repatriation are unlikely. You could ask your school to provide a breakdown of the benefits offered so you understand what’s offered.

Additionally, by knowing what the benefits and limits on their plan are, you’ll be able to search for a top-up plan to cover any gaps in what you need.

Further reading: 3 things to consider when personalizing your health insurance plan.

Getting to grips with the insurance jargon

You might read or hear insurance terminology that may leave you confused. If you are, don’t worry, as knowing a few key terms will help make your life easier as an international student. Here are a few insurance terms to know:

  • Benefit level refers to the maximum amount a health plan covers for a specific benefit.
  • Direct billing occurs when healthcare providers send their bills directly to the insurance provider for services rendered to a policyholder.
  • Exclusions are what a policyholder’s health insurance policy won’t cover.
  • Underwriting is the process that insurers follow to evaluate an applicant to determine the correct premium for their health coverage. See Insurance underwriting process: what is it, and how does it work?

Discover more about health insurance terms here, or contact an advisor for a definitive explanation.

Living in the Americas, including the U.S. and Latin America region, and planning to study abroad?

The world is an exciting place full of opportunities to travel and receive a high-quality education. From countries and locations like the UK and Germany to Finland, the UAE, Singapore, and Hong Kong, there’s a choice of excellent international schools and universities for all. However, traveling abroad to these countries comes with the same criteria, including visa requirements and the need to secure health insurance.

You wouldn’t want to be caught paying out of pocket for your medical treatment and losing out on international student insurance coverage benefits, right?

How much does international student health insurance cost outside the U.S.?

Compared to the U.S., international student health insurance plans are more affordable. You could secure a comprehensive plan for less than USD $100 a month, and standard plans are available for as low as USD $24. Of course, you’ll need to review your needs to ensure you get what you want at an affordable and reasonable price.

How to buy health insurance for students

Now that you’ve arrived at this point, you can recap what you need to know about medical insurance for students. With this knowledge, you’re in a better position to understand the ins and outs of medical insurance and why you will appreciate having cover as a student.

While it might seem easy and quick to search on Google and type in “what the best health insurance plan for international students is, ” we see otherwise at Pacific Prime Latin America. As a health insurance brokerage, we can leverage our long-running partnerships with top insurers worldwide. This means you won’t have to search for insurers; just inform our experts of your specific needs and budget. The rest will be processed by our insurance experts, who will put together international student health plans that work within the range provided.

Above all, you will benefit from our 20+ years of experience in the industry and you’ll receive impartial advice from expert insurance advisors. Plus, you will get ongoing support from our customer support teams, who are your one-stop contact point for all your insurance needs.

Pacific Prime’s new scholarship program in 2022

Want to get help with your tuition abroad? You’re in luck as Pacific Prime’s Scholarship Program 2022 offers you a chance to win a USD $1,000 bursary. Click on this link to learn more about the scholarship program and how you can enter.

Ready to secure international student health insurance?

We are ready to serve you and ensure you receive the best student health insurance experience. Head to our international student health insurance page or contact us for a FREE quote and plan comparison today!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Latin America
Jimmy is a content writer who helps simplify insurance for readers interested in international private medical insurance. He is on a mission in Thailand to support locals, expatriates, and businesses by bring the latest news and updates to his Pacific Prime blog articles.

His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.