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International student health insurance: What you need to know

Whether you’re going to be an exchange student for a semester or study abroad full-time, the experience can be daunting yet exciting. After all, moving from a place you’re familiar with to somewhere entirely new is a huge decision. While you likely already have a checklist of things that you need to prepare before setting off, there are some things that you might have overlooked. For instance, international student health insurance is something that foreign students in the US and overseas tend to not think about until it is too late.

This Pacific Prime Latin America article explores why international student health insurance is a must and how to find the best plan for your needs.

Individual health insurance blog

Things to consider when securing international student health insurance

If you’re an international student in the US, the college or university you’re enrolled in will probably require you to have health insurance coverage. Ideally, you should research what the best international student insurance in the US (or wherever you’re going) is for you before making the move.

Where are you studying?

Health insurance policies and costs can vary significantly according to location. As a US international student, keep in mind that the cost of healthcare isn’t the same in every state. You also have to consider whether the insurance plan you’re eyeing can meet your medical needs as a student. For example, the US’ Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network can be extremely challenging to navigate.

On the other hand, US-based students doing an exchange program are often faced with less stringent requirements. This allows them to find the best options based on their destination instead, opening up a wide array of insurance plans to choose from.

What benefits do you need?

First-time health insurance buyers might not know what they need or want. If purchasing US international student health insurance is something you’re doing just to meet a requirement, you’re not alone. However, this is an opportunity to put your money towards a plan that you will actually use, and that meets your needs.

Essentially, student plans typically have the same benefits as an international private medical insurance (IPMI) plan. But these benefits are usually reduced as student plans tend to be price sensitive. Likewise, many are looking to purchase a student plan only to fulfill their visa requirements – without the intention of actually using it.

What’s the difference between health insurance plans?

While you could purchase a full IPMI plan to meet requirements and get more benefits, these plans tend to be much more expensive. Note that all visa types require insurance, and university-provided insurance plans are generally limited. Not only do they offer fewer benefits, but they are also known for having a restrictive hospital network. Despite these shortcomings, they are often more expensive than international student plans through a reputable insurance broker.

International student insurance coverage while studying abroad

Every policy and insurer offers different benefits, which is why it’s imperative to shop around and find the right fit. Here is an example summary of benefits to give you an idea of what comprehensive international student health insurance covers.

Sample summary of benefits (in USD $)

Maximum Limit Student: $500,000; Dependent: $100,000
Maximum Limit per Illness or Injury Student: $300,000; Dependent: $100,000
Deductible $100 per illness or injury

Student health center: $5 copay per visit

Coinsurance Outside of the US: Company pays 100%

In PPO network or student health center within the US: Company pays 100%

Out of PPO network within the US: Company pays 80% of eligible expenses up to $5,000 then 100% thereafter

Eligible Medical Expenses After deductible is met, company pays 80% of expenses out-of-network (US) or 100% in-network (US) and internationally
Emergency Local Ambulance $350 per illness resulting in an inpatient hospitalization or injury
Emergency Medical Evacuation $500,000 maximum limit
Personal Liability $10,000 combined maximum limit

Injury to third person: subject to $100 per injury deductible

Damage to third person’s property: subject to a $100 per damage deductible

Note that these are just some of the many benefits that you can get with a comprehensive student health insurance plan.

How much does international student health insurance cost?

Even though US health insurance is notoriously expensive, the cost of US international student health insurance plans tends to be more affordable. Students under the age of 25 can pay anywhere from USD $30 to $140 per month, depending on the level of coverage. However, prices increase significantly for older scholars, costing around USD $300 a month for individuals around the age of 40. Either way, health insurance in the US is crucial as medical costs in the country are sky-high. Here are some real-life examples:

  • Appendicitis: USD $60,493
  • Fractured humerus: USD $47,445
  • Fractured clavicle: USD $18,393
  • Serious illness/car crash: USD $150,000

If you’re not studying in the US, plans become much more affordable. In fact, you can get a comprehensive plan for less than USD $100 a month and a standard one for as little as USD $24 per month in other parts of the world. With that said, the exact cost of international student health insurance depends on several factors, which is why it’s advisable to seek professional advice before making your selection.

Are you looking for help with your tuition? You’re in luck as Pacific Prime’s Scholarship Program 2022 gives 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. 

Secure the right insurance plan with Pacific Prime Latin America

Depending on where you choose to study, you may have to buy a plan that meets visa requirements. On top of that, you want to invest in a plan that meets your needs and you can actually use. But figuring all of this out for yourself can be stressful and time-consuming. That’s why many students and individuals alike turn to a reputable health insurance brokerage like Pacific Prime Latin America.

With over two decades of industry experience, Pacific Prime Latin America has the knowledge and expertise to help you find the most suitable plan for your needs and budget. You’ll get impartial insurance advice from our experts, value-added services, and more at no additional cost from going directly to an insurer.

Whether you’re looking for health insurance for students in USA or globally, contact us so we can start looking for a plan that’s right for you.


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    Content Creator at Pacific Prime Latin America
    ​​Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical workday, she writes and edits articles, guides, and anything else word-related. She loves creating content that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

    In her free time, she’s likely to be writing poetry and prose, geeking out on her latest interests, reading, or practicing yoga.
    Jantra