April 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel
If you are an international student, you may be confused about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act applies to you. Also known as PPACA, ACA, or ObamaCare, this legislation can be confusing, especially as much of the information out there doesn’t directly speak to international students. To help you on your way, here’s an overview of how the ACA applies to you:
International Students Are Exempt from the ACA
Good news is here! All international students holding a F, J, Q and M visa are exempt from the individual mandate for the first 5 calendar years that they are in the US. This means that whether you are an international student or even if you are on OPT, you can choose the most suitable health insurance policy that meets both your individual needs and budget – without having to worry about any penalty.
What This Means For You
Many health insurance plans that meet the ACA minimum essential health benefits are often not appropriate for the needs of foreign students. They are designed with US citizens in mind, offering long-term care without medical evacuation and repatriation benefits – not to mention they come with an expensive price tag and large out of pocket costs.
International students can purchase a comprehensive health insurance plan that is tailored to address their needs including:
- Outpatient Care
- Inpatient Care
- Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
- Prescription Medications
- Maternity, Mental Health, Organize Sports, and more!
Insurance Options That Meet Your Needs
Our Student Secure plan is an excellent option for international students with three levels to choose the plan that works best for your specific needs. Check our School Requirements to see if our plan will work for your institution.
Want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act? Read our latest article on the Impacts of the ACA on International Students.
April 18th, 2014 by Bryanna Davis
Getting into an automobile accident doesn’t usually work its way into daydreams about travels abroad. However, car accidents do happen- and quite frequently. Approximately 1.24 million deaths occurred worldwide in 2010 due to road traffic accidents according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
While you can skip including automobile accidents into your daydreams- you do need to include it in your items to be prepared for…just in case. Having international health insurance can provide you with protection if an automobile accident were to occur while abroad. Here are just a few ways that it can protect you.
Emergency Medical Evacuation: Not every medical facility is able to handle every injury. Because of this this, emergency medical evacuation is sometimes necessary. If you are at a facility that isn’t able to provide you with the treatment you need after a car accident, or if your accident occurs in a remote location, an evacuation will quickly take you where to need to be to get the treatment you need. Evacuations can save your life, but can also be extremely expensive- make sure your international health insurance plan includes emergency medical evacuation.
Urgent Care: Depending on the severity of your car accident- it could land you in urgent care which can quickly rack up high medical bills. Urgent care coverage gives you treatment that your life depends on and that your wallet will be pleased with.
Dismemberment: If an accident leaves you with the loss of eye sight or a limb it will require you to have a period of adjustment and more than likely multiple medical treatments to come. A plan that has dismemberment coverage can help offset this burden.
Repatriation of Remains: If your accident is fatal, this will ensure that your remains are able to safely return home, and your family will not be faced with the heavy financial responsibility of getting you there.
Liability: Some international health insurance plans also include liability which is helpful in the instance of a car accident. Liability may include personal liability- injury to a third person, damage to a third person’s property, or both. If you want a plan that includes liability if a car accident were to occur make sure to check out the exclusions of the plan and that liability in the instance of a car accident is not excluded.
Keeping these items in mind, then checking out what your plan includes in relation to these benefits should allow you to stop asking yourself about “automobile accidents and how my international health insurance works.”
April 14th, 2014 by Victoria Troupe
Japan has become a popular destination for international students and it’s no surprise. Japanese educational institutions offer high education standards as well as affordable tuition. Like all people studying internationally, you will want to consider your health insurance options while you are in Japan. Your options differ depending on the longevity of your stay. Here is a breakdown of insurance alternatives for international students in Japan.
If you’re staying for 1 year or more…
If you’re staying for more than year you will be required to enroll in Japan’s National Health Insurance upon arrival. You’ll enroll with your Alien Registration Card and the coverage is free. The Japanese National Health plan generally covers 70% of medical costs, leaving you responsible for the remaining 30% of your medical costs, which you’ll need to pay out of your own pocket. Additionally, the national coverage is not all-inclusive – meaning that some cases, like private medical treatment, emergency medical evacuation, and trip interruption, are excluded from coverage.
In a situation like this, international students in Japan should purchase an additional, secondary insurance policy to be sure you have adequate coverage while you are in a foreign place. As a full-time international student or scholar you are eligible for the International Student Insurance plan and you can renew it for up to 4 years while you are a student. If you change your visa status or plan on being in Japan for longer than 4 years, also consider our Major Medical plan, which can cover you worldwide with no student requirement.
If you’re staying for 1 year or less…
If you’re studying in or visiting Japan for less than 1 year you are not required to enroll in the National Health Insurance. You should consider purchasing a student or travel insurance plan to protect you in case you become ill or injured. Our popular International Student Insurance and Travel Medical plans are both good options for a short study abroad.
For more information, check out our “Japan Student Insurance” resource.
April 11th, 2014 by Bryanna Davis
Although violence against women is higher in some countries than others- an attack can happen anywhere around the world when traveling. While this doesn’t mean that females should avoid travel or be restricted to traveling with a partner, it does mean that being a smart female traveler can save your life. Here are a few top tips when traveling alone as a female to keep you safe.
- Know where you are going. Walking off the beaten path and letting your feet take you where wherever they want to go can be exciting- but it can also be very dangerous. This can lead you to an area high in crime or get you lost which opens the door to danger. Since stopping to ask for directions or looking at a map can give you the label of being a vulnerable tourist- always appear that you know where you are going. If possible, wait to look at your map until you are out of the street and in a more private location such as a supermarket or restaurant. If you need to ask for directions look for a police officer for assistance.
- Follow the advice of local women. If you are in a potentially dangerous situation and a local woman tells you to run or scream chances are you will want to take her advice. You will also want to observe the dress code and demeanor of women in the country you are visiting and try to follow suit to avoid from standing out and being targeted for crime.
- Even if you have it- don’t flaunt it. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or clothing with expensive labels. Appearing to have expensive materials will make you stand out to thieves.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If streets become less crowded, consider turning back since it’s always best to stick to main roads. Additionally, if you notice that you have seen a face more times than you should in one day or hour, take note if they are following you. If you think you are being followed pretend like you are calling a friend and ensure your follower hears you say into your phone “I will see you in a few minutes”. If they continue to follow you then walk into a restaurant and chat with one of the staff or someone who appears safe.
- Have protection. Protection can come in many forms, here are a few ideas that you might want to choose from. If you have time before your trip take a few self-defense classes. This will allow you to see how a thief would attack and how you can get away. If a self-defense class isn’t possible, look into purchasing and carrying mace spray (if legal in the country you are from and visiting) or a heavy flashlight. A flashlight can not only come in handy if lead down a dark street, but also if needed as a last resort weapon.
It’s important to stay safe but not allow fear of the unknown to ruin your trip. Simply follow these top tips when traveling alone as a female and listen to your gut instinct to help ensure you come back safe and sound from your journey.
April 7th, 2014 by Ross Mason
April 2014 Travel Warnings
The April 2014 travel warnings are a listing of any warnings that have been posted by the US Department of State in the month of March, warning travelers who plan to visit those countries.
Countries listed through the month of March 2014 include:
Niger – March 27th 2014
The Department of State warns travelers of the risks of travel to Niger. The Government of Niger continues to maintain security checkpoints in Niamey to address security concerns. The US Embassy in Niger recommends that citizens traveling in Niger remain especially careful around security checkpoints, as security forces continue to be on a heightened state of alert. Do not drive away from, or through, a checkpoint until you are given clear permission to do so. If you are unsure of what to do, please request verbal confirmation before proceeding.
Ukraine – March 21st, 2014
The Department of State warns travelers to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine and to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula and eastern regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk due to the presence of Russian military forces in the Crimean Peninsula, and in Russia near the Ukrainian border. Russia is taking actions in support of its attempt to annex the Crimean Peninsula and is likely to continue to take further actions in the Crimean Peninsula consistent with its claim.
Mali – March 21st, 2014
The U.S. Department of State warns travelers to consider carefully the risks of travel to Mali, given continuing aspirations of terrorists to conduct attacks. They strongly warn against travel to the northern parts of the country and along the border with Mauritania, particularly in areas that are not patrolled and where there is little to no security presence. There remains ongoing conflict in northern Mali and continuing threats of attacks on and kidnappings of westerners and others.
Mauritania – March 12th, 2014
The Department of State warns of the risks of traveling to Mauritania, and urges those who travel to Mauritania to exercise extreme caution because of activities by terrorist groups in the region, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM continues to demonstrate its intent and ability to conduct attacks against foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens.
Haiti – March 12th, 2014
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform those traveling to or living in Haiti to exercise caution when visiting Haiti given Haiti’s weak emergency response infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel.
Iraq – March 6th, 2014
The Department of State warns travelers against all but essential travel to Iraq. U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs; mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets; and shootings using various direct fire weapons. These and other attacks frequently occur in public gathering places, such as cafes, markets and other public venues.
While traveling, please keep these travel warnings in mind and remember to exercise extra care if you are visiting these countries, and check with your travel insurance provider to make sure you still have coverage in place – sometimes some benefits can be excluded for countries under a travel warning. Travelers are also advised to enroll through the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to stay up to date on travel security information.
April 4th, 2014 by Ross Mason
High School Year Abroad
Every year, nearly 50,000 students come into the USA on the J1 visa and participant in high school exchange programs. That number also does not include the students who come in on the F1 visa, so the total number of international high school students could easily be double that. Then when you look at other countries, that number will rise even further as students are looking at countries such as Ireland and the UK as destinations to participate in a high school year abroad program.
For the student, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience to have a high school exchange and year abroad, opening you up to new cultures at such an early age. But there are also the risks of being underage, and how to handle that from a health and safety perspective. Luckily there are some fantastic high school agencies and organizations that run these programs and handle these issues already. However, when it comes to high school exchange health insurance, a few key things to remember:
For the USA, if you are entering on a J1 visa, you will need to meet certain levels of coverage as laid out in the regulations for that visa. In short you will need a plan that has at least $50,000 in coverage, $10,000 for medical evacuation, $7,500 for repatriation, a deductible not to exceed $500 and a policy that meets one of the valid insurance ratings. You can find more information on the J1 visa health insurance requirements through our website. For those on an F1 visa, there are actually no requirements attached to your visa, so you can choose any insurance policy that you wish. However in most cases, your school, agency or sponsoring organization will provide you with an insurance plan – you can either purchase that or buy your own individual plan like the ones we offer on our website. For other countries around the world, you should always check to see that you are meeting all your visa requirements, otherwise you could have issues with your via being approved.
Being abroad, and a minor in most cases, receiving the correct service and support is vital if you do become sick or injured. Your insurance plan should have 24 hour emergency assistance so that if you need to locate a doctor, or need medical help of any kind, they are just a phone call away. Language support is also very helpful, because if you are learning a new language, it may be hard to converse – so support for your mother tongue can be vital.
Should something go wrong and you are hospitalized, you will want the insurance plan to get your close family to your bedside as quickly as possible. Therefore always check that your insurance plan has an emergency reunion benefit that will provide a benefit to bring your family to your bedside. The wording on this benefit can alter from insurer to insurer, so always make sure you dig into the wording so that you understand how that benefit will work and come into play for you.
Third Party Access
In most cases when you undertake a high school exchange, you will be staying with a host family. They will act like your mother and father during your year away, and will also be there to help you with things like your insurance plan, should you become sick or injured. You should always check in advance that they can act on your behalf as in some cases, privacy laws will prevent an insurer from discussing information about a claim with anyone apart from the insured.
Th experience of spending a high school year abroad can be an amazing one, and with the right precautions you can make sure everything is covered in the event something does go wrong.
March 31st, 2014 by Bryanna Davis
There are currently more than 65,000 international students in the Netherlands and for many good reasons. The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world- this means not only can students from around the world rest assured that they won’t have too many safety blunders while abroad, but convincing parents to allow a semester, year or degree pursuit overseas to happen is much easier. Safety combined with the endless number of things to do and culture to experience, along with being a hub to other European countries, makes the Netherlands a desirable location to study.
Students who choose to study in the Netherlands must keep in mind that having health insurance for medical expenses is required. Students can locate their situation below and see what type of health insurance for international students in the Netherlands is needed as detailed in the Aliens Law.
International students under the age of 30:
- Those not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland will need to take out private health insurance. Private insurance is only required to include coverage for medical expenses, however, coverage for repatriation and liability can also be beneficial for students in the Netherlands.
- If from the EU, EEA or Switzerland you are able to use the EU Health Insurance card. Those who fall into this category often choose to purchase repatriation coverage as the Dutch health insurance does not cover repatriation insurance.
International students over the age of 30:
- If permanently studying in the Netherlands, these students will need to obtain Dutch public healthcare insurance. Purchasing repatriation coverage is suggested in this situation as well.
Only students in the Netherlands who are there solely for study purposes are able to purchase a private health insurance plan. This means that any student that has a job (even part-time) or an internship will be required to obtain Dutch public healthcare insurance.
Get more information on health insurance for international students in the Netherlands here.
March 24th, 2014 by Victoria Troupe
When you’re studying internationally, choosing the right insurance plan can be daunting. You want to make sure you’re covered in case you need to seek medical attention. If you are a woman studying internationally or if your wife is traveling with you while you study internationally, maternity coverage may or may not be on your mind. Pregnancies can occur, planned or not, and health care for it can be expensive. Maternity benefits are an important part of a comprehensive international student insurance plan.
A typical pregnancy includes prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal care with a doctor to ensure a healthy baby and mother. Prenatal care includes visits and check-ups with the doctor before the baby is born. It includes ultrasounds and other tests to make sure the baby is developing in a healthy way. If your pregnancy is considered high-risk because of your age or health conditions, you may require more frequent visits and special care. You may also need to see a doctor who works with high-risk pregnancies. Without insurance, prenatal care alone typically costs around $2,000 or more in the USA.
The delivery of a baby includes a hospital stay which can vary in length depending on the type of birth and complications, and is the most expensive portion of the pregnancy. Delivery can range in cost from around $3,000 for uncomplicated vaginal births, around $5,000 for cesarean, to over $7,000 for complicated births. Postnatal care lasts six to eight weeks after the birth and ensures the physical and emotional health of the mother and baby.
All of these expenses add up fast and if your insurance plan does not include maternity coverage you might find yourself in a tight spot. Additionally, most insurance plans will not cover a pregnancy if you become pregnant before your policy becomes effective – so think ahead! Our Student Secure plan offers two levels of coverage that include maternity – Budget and Select. This is a great maternity plan because there is no waiting period – you can become pregnant right away (but not before the plan starts) and still receive coverage. The primary person on the plan must be a full-time student, but spouses can be added to the policy as dependents.
Our Major Medical plan – the Global Medical – has an optional maternity rider that you can add to your policy for an additional annual premium and is a great option for non-students. This plan, however, does have a 12-month waiting period before you can receive full maternity benefits.
Maternity coverage is one of many important considerations when choosing your insurance plan. For more information, please visit our Insurance Explained section or contact our friendly customer service representatives.
March 21st, 2014 by Ross Mason
Schengen Visa Travel
With the recent news that travelers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will no longer need to apply for the Schengen Visa to travel to Europe, travel to Europe for citizens from the UAE will be much easier.
The restriction will be lifted once a joint team meets to execute the new resolution, and hopefully this will be implemented as soon as possible. There were also talks recently where Kuwait were pushing for the exemption for their citizens – but no decision has been made there yet.
We also learned just this week that the EU commission has approved a whole range of changes to make Schengen Visa Travel easier for everyone with alterations to the actual visa process. This includes changes such as the requirement of supporting documentation, introduction of multi-entry visas and removal of the fee for those under 18 years old. It is not clear when any of these restrictions and changes will be implemented, but it should make travel to the Schengen Countries easier for many.
At the moment the current regulations still apply, and so if you are planning to travel to any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days you will need to apply for a Schengen Visa before you travel. To learn more about the process of applying for a visa, please visit our website here, where you can find out what countries it impacts and what documentation your need.
The Schengen Visa also has very specific insurance requirements, making sure you are covered when you travel through the countries. If you need assistance in purchasing or finding the right plan for your visa, please let us know.
Hopefully when these new changes come into play, travel to Schengen Countries will be much easier and more streamlined!