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5 Steps to Waive Your School’s Group Insurance Plan

July 13th, 2018 by Jennifer Frankel

If you will be an international student attending college or university in the US, then chances are your school has certain health insurance requirements to make sure you are properly protected. Many schools have a group plan that they automatically enroll their international students in, but may give you the option to opt out if you can show proof of an alternative insurance policy. If you decide to waive your school’s group insurance plan, you will not only be able to find a plan that meets your unique needs, but oftentimes you will find plans that are less expensive. In some cases, you can save thousands of dollars!

In this blog, we will walk you step-by-step on how you can save money, find a plan specific to your needs, and waive your school’s group insurance plan:

Step 1. Find Out Your School’s Policy

Your school most likely has requirements when it comes to your health insurance plan. Find out if they have a group plan, and if so, whether you are able to waive the plan by purchasing your own policy that meets certain requirements. Your school may have a compliance or alternative insurance waiver form you need to complete which typically list these requirements.

IMPORTANT: Note any deadlines since most schools will not provide extensions!

Step 2. Find and Purchase An International Student Insurance Plan

Once you know the requirements, the next step is to find a plan that meets your school’s criteria, as well as meets your own personal needs. Both our Student Health and Student Health Advantage plans are popular options that will work for almost any school.

To see which plan will work, use our school requirements database tool to locate your college or university, and see which of our plans will meet. You can also contact us to confirm whether our plans will work. Once you’ve find the right plan, you’ll need to enroll and pay for the policy. Depending on the plan, you may be able to get same day or next day coverage, and you’ll receive an email confirmation right away.

Tip: Check with your school to see what dates you must be insured for. Many schools will deny your waiver if you don’t have coverage for the full semester, or even the academic year.

Step 3. Complete the Waiver Form

Your school may have an online or paper waiver/compliance form that you will need to complete and submit to your school. You must fill out this form for the school to review and approve the waiver. In some cases, you will be required to have the insurance company complete a portion of the form (see Step 6).

Step 4. Submit the Form to the Insurance Company

If there is a portion of your form that needs to be completed by the insurance company, be sure to fill out the student section, and include your name, certificate/policy number, and signature if needed. You can fax or email the form to ISI at:

Fax: 904-212-0412
Email: info@internationalstudentinsurance.com

Our typical turnaround time is 2-3 business days.

Step 5. Submit the Form to your School

Depending on the school, the insurance company can submit the waiver/compliance form on your behalf. If you prefer to do it, the insurance company can send this back to you to submit. Be sure you keep track of any deadlines of submission!

Once your school has reviewed your waiver, they will let you know whether your plan has been accepted. If not, they will tell you why it wasn’t accepted (and if not, be sure to ask!). Many schools may put a hold to register for classes, so you’ll want to get this done as soon as possible.

To see what plans work for you to waive your school’s group insurance plan, check out our school requirements database and if you need any help, we have customer service representatives available to help you every step of the way.

Does my health insurance cover car accidents?

June 22nd, 2018 by Ross Mason

Car CrashWhen searching for health insurance, there are lots of things you need to take into consideration before purchasing coverage to ensure the plan fits your needs. There is the cost of the plan, making sure the benefits are what you need and required by your school (if they have requirements) and then there are the exclusions on the policy – what the plan does not cover.

One area of coverage that is oftentimes overlooked is coverage for car accidents. Whether you are driving a car or you are a passenger, you will want to make sure that your plan covers you in case something happens as not all plans are the same and some may limit or exclude it!

Auto Insurance Coverage

When we talk about car accidents, we are referring to coverage for bodily injuries that occur from being in a car accident and NOT damage to your car or another person’s car. Health insurance plans will never cover standard auto insurance benefits which actually insure the car – so we need to be clear on this. If you are driving a car, you will need to make sure you have appropriate auto insurance in place, which can either be obtained from the company you rented the car from, or whosever car you are borrowing or using.

Included Benefits

Your biggest concern when looking for an appropriate insurance plan is making sure that the plan will cover you if you are in an auto accident. If your plan does not mention car or auto accidents in the benefits or exclusions, then typically your plan will include full coverage for those events. Unfortunately, not all insurance plans are the same and there are good number of plans out there that will either limit, or perhaps even fully exclude car-related injuries. You cannot assume that this will automatically be covered, so it’s important to check the policy benefits and the exclusion list (in most cases it will be listed as a policy exclusion) located in the policy certificate.

Excluded in Certain Situations

Even if your plan does include coverage for car accidents, you should be mindful that other exclusions may come into play when either driving or as a passenger in a car. The most common areas are:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Racing
  • Committing a felony

If your injury from a car accident was in anyway related to any of the items listed above, they would typically be excluded and you would be responsible for your full medical costs.

Medical Coverage from an Auto Plan

There could be some instances where the auto insurance plan for the car you are driving, or being driven around in, will cover some or all of your medical costs if there was an accident. This will depend on the type of auto insurance plan, so while it could be a backup, it should not be relied upon as the sole way to be covered from an auto accident.

What if I get hit by a car?

Most of the scenarios in this blog have dealt with car accidents as either a driver or passenger, but what if you are hit by a car either riding your bike or walking in the road? In nearly all circumstances, unless the incident was related to one of the exclusions of your policy, this should be covered. In many cases, if this were to happen, some state laws in the US require that auto insurance plans include some form of third party coverage. It might only be a limited amount, maybe $10,000 or $20,000, but it could be higher depending on the type of auto insurance the driver had. These funds would pay your medical expenses, and then anything over these amounts would be your responsibility. If you have a health insurance policy, however, your health insurance would kick in and pay these benefits instead.

Hopefully this has given you some guidance on what to look for when purchasing an insurance plan. It can start to get tricky when you are dealing with car accidents because there could be coverage from the actual auto policy, as we highlighted above, but then if there are two cars involved, the one responsible for the accident should actually pay. So the best way to handle this is to make sure your own insurance plan covers what you need and you do not rely on auto insurance medical coverage.

What is Major Medical Insurance?

May 11th, 2018 by Jacqueline Schultz

Major Medical Insurance

What is Major Medical insurance? Our Major Medical Insurance plan is a long-term health insurance option that provides comprehensive coverage for international students, travelers, OPT and dependents. The plan comes in 5 levels – Bronze, Silver, Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum levels. Each level provides varying coverage amounts to meet your individual needs. The plan is medically underwritten and annually renewable, with monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual payment options.

Who Should Consider Major Medical Insurance?

Even though the Major Medical plan provides excellent coverage, this plan may not necessarily be for everyone. This is an annual plan in order to provide long-term coverage. If you need coverage for less than a year, we have other great plan options that you may learn about. The Major Medical plan is a great choice for those who are planning to start a family because maternity is covered on the Platinum level. Also, if you require more comprehensive coverage due to a pre-existing condition, our recent updates have made this plan an excellent option while you are traveling or studying abroad.

Updates for Prospective Members

For those of you who are currently exploring our comprehensive Major Medical Insurance plan, we have some exciting updates to share with you! Not only has our Major Medical plan been enhanced, providing even more extensive coverage, it has also added some brand-new benefits including:

  • United HealthCare Network (one of the U.S. largest PPO networks)
  • Immediate coverage for pre-existing conditions (Silver+ levels upon approval)
  • Podiatry Care (Gold+ levels)
  • Non-Emergency Dental
  • No additional Emergency Room deductible charge (outside the U.S.)

Quickfacts

  • The updates only apply to those purchase the policy after January 1, 2018. For policies that existed prior to this date, these changes will not apply.
  • Medically underwritten means that the application requires you to answer a series of questions about your medical history. Underwriting will review your application once it is complete. You will receive a decision as to whether to accept the application as-is, or with modifications, or deny it entirely within 3-7 business days.
  • If your plan begins in 2018, the Major Medical plan will begin implementing automatic renewals. This is a convenient way to allow you to maintain continuous coverage while you are abroad. You will also receive a confirmation email 45 days in advance prior to your re-enrollment.
  • There is now a 9% annual renewal increase that is no longer based on age or length of coverage.
  • To view more commonly asked questions, be sure to take a look at our FAQ pages!

Our International Major Medical Insurance plan provides great comprehensive coverage. The Major Medical plan can certainly be a bit complicated to understand. However, we are always happy to assist with any concerns you may have. If you have any questions regarding this plan and the different coverage options, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Student Secure and Patriot Travel Insurance Changes for 2018

May 4th, 2018 by Juncal Caballero

Good news! Our Student Secure and Patriot Travel plans have also been updated for 2018, and now the plans offer even more coverage than before!

Student Secure Updates

Beginning on May 1st, 2018, the Student Secure plan offers more comprehensive coverage at better rates.

The main highlights of the Student Secure updates include:

  • New policy maximum for the Budget level: $500,000
  • New policy maximum for the Select level: $600,000
  • New policy maximum for the Elite level: $1,000,000
  • The Smart level now includes coverage for Dental Treatment due to an accident of up to $250  per tooth (up to a maximum of $500), as well as coverage for Dental Treatment to alleviate pain up to a $100 maximum
  • Maternity is now covered on the Elite level up to $25,000
  • Outpatient prescription drugs on the Elite level are now covered 100% for  generic drugs and 50% for brand names
  • Vaccinations are now covered on the Elite level up to $150 (inside the US only)

About the Student Secure

The Student Secure plan provides international student health insurance to both international and study abroad students who are studying outside of their home country either in the USA or around the world. This comprehensive student health insurance plan offers coverage on a monthly basis that will meet and exceed nearly all school and government requirements, and is perfect for students on a J1 and F1 visa or OPT.

For a full list of the newly updated benefits of the Student Secure plan, please visit our benefits section.

If you would like to receive a free quote:

 

Patriot Travel Updates

Beginning on May 2nd, 2018, the Patriot Travel plan also offers more comprehensive coverage at better rates.

For our Patriot Travel plan – Standard level, the enhancements include:

  • The coinsurance inside the U.S. in-network is now 100% up to the policy maximum after any deductible
  • Doctor visits and urgent care centers now have a $25 co-pay and walk-in clinics have a $15 co-pay. These copays are waived if a $0 deductible is selected
  • Physical Therapy is now covered on the  Standard and Platinum levels
  • Dental Emergencies now covered up to $300
  • Traumatic Dental Injury is now covered up to the policy maximum
  • Emergency Evacuation increased to $1,000,000
  • Natural Disaster benefit increased to $250 per day
  • Personal Liability has been added and covers up to $10,000

About the Patriot Travel

The Patriot Travel Medical plan is a great option for individuals who are traveling abroad and is designed to provide coverage for illnesses and injuries that happen while traveling. The plan also includes travel benefits such as Emergency Evacuation, Repatriation of Remains, Lost Luggage, Trip Interruption and more.

For a full list of the newly updated benefits of the Patriot Travel plan, please visit our benefits section.

If you would like to receive a free quote:

If you have any questions about either plan, please do not hesitate to contact our team.

Announcing New K-12 Plan!

April 19th, 2018 by Jacqueline Schultz

Announcing our new K-12 planIn collaboration with International Medical Group (IMG), International Student Insurance is pleased to announce an exclusive and brand-new K-12 group health insurance plan! This comprehensive policy is specifically designed to provide inbound coverage for international students, specifically at the elementary and high school age. The K-12 plan is available in two levels – Standard and Platinum – allowing institutions to select appropriate coverage for their students.

Some of the key highlights of the K-12 plan include:

  • Hospitalizations/Doctor’s Visits
  • Sports Coverage
  • Wellness (including coverage for vaccines & physicals)
  • 100% in-network Coverage with UnitedHealthcare
  • Prescription Drug Coverage (also utilizing Universal Rx drug network)

*The price is currently $55 per month on the Standard level and $88 per month on the Platinum level.*

Partnering with International Student Insurance also means that you will continue to have access to our free resources and the assistance of dedicated representatives to meet the needs of your international students. If you are unsure about a group option or if you only have a couple of international students that require health coverage, we also offer individual plans at the K-12 level. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us for a group or individual quote!

Do International Students Need Dental Insurance?

April 13th, 2018 by Sutherland Beever

 

While it’s ultimately your choice to purchase a dental insurance plan, this blog will outline the cost of treatment without coverage and the most popular types of dental plans to help you make the best decision.

In preparing to become an international student, it’s likely you’ve been warned about how expensive medical treatment can be in the United States, but did you know that dental treatment is also very expensive?  In addition to being pricy, dental insurance and health insurance policies are completely separate plans. What this means is that your student health insurance plan can cover doctor visits and potential hospitalizations, but more than likely won’t cover your bills if you were to chip a tooth, get a cavity, or need a root canal.         


 Let’s Talk Numbers 

 

 It’s a natural feeling to assume you won’t need to visit a dentist while outside of your home country, but the reality is that insurance is generally used in unexpected situations and ‘worse case scenarios.’ It’s rarely bought when someone knows they’ll use it. To add a bit of perspective, the bullets below indicate average costs of dental treatment without insurance according to DentalPlans.com.

Routine 6 Month Visit: $220

Full Mouth X-Rays: $296

Adult Teeth Cleaning: $398

Root Canal: $971

*Pro Tip: These prices are meant to be guidelines. The cost of procedures will vary by location and the specific dentist visited. This means your visit could ultimately be more affordable or more expensive.               


Traditional Dental Plans vs. Discount Dental Plans                   

 

While you’re still trying to decide if dental insurance is a good investment, it’s important to understand how this type of coverage works in the United States and what your options are. This is especially true if you’ll be personally responsible for paying for your dental treatment. Don’t worry – you have two viable options!

 

Option #1 – Traditional Dental Plans 

 

Traditional dental insurance plans will likely cost about $50 per month but will vary depending on the company offering the plan and the coverage it includes. In most cases, dental insurance plans will provide a certain dollar amount of coverage for specific services and any amount over this will need to be paid out of pocket. It’s important to keep in mind that insurance policies will always have exclusions (meaning things that won’t be covered by the plan), so pick up the phone and speak to someone if you need help. This will help ensure your questions are answered and the plan will ultimately cover the bills you’re expecting it to.

 

 Option #2 – Discount Dental Plans

 

Commonly referred to as dental savings plans, these types of plans require you to pay an annual fee (about $150 a year or so) and then in turn, you receive about 10% – 60% discount on specific dental care at select dentists. One additional benefit with discount dental plans is that you’re able to purchase them in the event you need something specific done, such as a tooth extraction. This can come in handy if you decide against a dental insurance plan but ultimately need some kind of coverage later on.

 

*Pro Tip: As with any insurance product, shopping around for the best rate and coverage may be time consuming, but will likely result in significant cost savings over time. Trust us, it’s worth the effort.                 


 

The Bottom Line

 

Think of dental insurance like the umbrella – you may not expect to need it on any given day, but it sure does come in handy from time to time.

 

As with most things in life, the answer to the question ‘Do international students need dental insurance?’ isn’t black and white. On one hand it’s possible that you buy dental insurance and never use it, but on the other you could end up using it several times (and each time thank your lucky stars). What we can be sure of, is that dental visits in the US don’t come cheap and it’s always good to hope for the best but prepare for the worst!

 

Want to learn more? Check out various Dental Discount Plans!

International Travel Medical Insurance Changes for 2018

April 6th, 2018 by Yessica Prato

Dual CitizenshipThe Atlas Travel plan new updates are live and it has more comprehensive coverage than ever before! If you are planning a trip outside of your home country for vacation or to study abroad, you will want to have international travel medical insurance that can cover you in case the unexpected happens.

New benefits like coverage for injuries while playing soccer have been added. We also increased the coverage limits on benefits like trip interruption, in case you have to go back home unexpectedly, and emergency reunion, in case you are hospitalized and a family member wants to visit you.

 

The plan updates for 2018 include:

  • An increase in coverage for the Emergency Reunion, Trip Interruption, Political Evacuation, and Natural Disaster benefits
  • The urgent care clinic co-pay decreased to $25 USD per visit
  • Emergency eye exam coverage
  • Coverage for recreational soccer
  • Border Entry Protection while on a tourist visa if you are denied entry to the United States.
  • Individuals 70-79 years old can now choose coverage up to $250,000 USD
  • A new $5,000 deductible option

 

This plan is ideal for students studying abroad or short-term visits out of your home country, as you do not need to be a student to qualify. The plan also works for dependents or traveling companions, it will meet the J visa requirements, and can be used during your OPT period!

To obtain a quote or apply:

Dual Citizenship

For a full list of the newly updated benefits of the Atlas Travel plan, please visit our benefits section. You can obtain a quote or apply directly online and instantly get your documents. You may also contact one of our licensed insurance agents with any questions!

Insurance Options for Dual Citizens of the United States

March 23rd, 2018 by Yessica Prato

Dual Citizenship

Many students worldwide have considered studying in the United States as it houses some of the worlds most prestigious universities and colleges. When traveling to the US, it’s important to have health insurance as healthcare can be very expensive. If you are one of the many people that enjoys having dual citizenship (US citizenship and citizenship from another country) for the purpose of insurance, the United States citizenship will take precedence within the country. While you can enjoy the benefits of paying citizen tuition rates and not go through the process of obtaining a student visa, you are required to fulfill the responsibilities of a US citizen. So even if you’ve never been to the US, having US citizenship will automatically change the way you qualify and obtain a health insurance.

 

A little history…

In 2010, former President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This healthcare reform law, known as ACA or Obamacare, is a very complex set of regulations. It requires all US citizens to maintain health insurance that meets the ACA standards or pay a fee when they file taxes if they fail to maintain coverage.

Most international students are exempt from the ACA mandate for the first 5 calendar years that they are in the United States. However, a student with dual citizenship in the US will not be considered an international student. This means that as a US citizen, you will be held to the same standards as any other citizen in the country.

 

Finding an ACA compliant plan

ACA compliant plans are designed to give you coverage for a wide range of conditions. Generally, they will cover pre-existing conditions, maternity, and wellness or routine care to name a few. However, with the extensive coverage it offers, the cost of these plans can be steep.

Once you’ve been accepted to the school of your choice, one of the first things you should inquire about is whether or not they offer or mandate a school insurance plan. Some schools offer health insurance for their students and their plans are generally ACA compliant. For schools that don’t offer health insurance to their students, here are some options that you can consider:

 

The Marketplace

The best way to start your search for an ACA plan is using the government managed website Healthcare.gov. Best known as “the Marketplace,” the federal government created this online portal to list insurance providers and the plans that meet the requirements of the healthcare reform. The marketplace plans are separated into four categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each category based on the percentage the plan pays toward your medical expenses.

 

Dual CitizenshipNote: The Marketplace has a yearly enrollment period when people can sign up for health insurance. Usually, it takes place in the fall. If you miss the enrollment period, you will need to use the Special Enrollment Period and have a “qualifying event” (Moving from a foreign country to the US counts as a qualifying event!)

 

Local state agencies

As a US citizen, you will have access to government programs and assistance. If you prefer to speak to an insurance agent, the Marketplace offers a list of agents and brokers. They will be able to assist you with choosing a plan that is right for you. Additionally, you can reach out to an insurance company directly and they will also be able to help you get an ACA compliant plan.

 

Short Term Insurance plans

Also known as “gap insurance,” short term plans are designed to give you coverage until you can find appropriate coverage. They will generally cover inpatient and outpatient services and be more affordable than ACA compliant plans. However, these plans are only designed to give you temporary coverage. Most states in the US only allow short term plans to cover US citizens. Generally, the short term plans are only available for 3 months at a time. Some states only allow you to repurchase the plan twice in a calendar year.

 

Dual Citizenship

Note: Short term insurance plans are not ACA compliant. You will be subject to a tax penalty even if you are insured the entire year with multiple short term plans.

 

Employment-based insurance

One of the great advantages of already being a US citizen is that you are legally able to work in the US without going through the trouble of applying for a work permit. Many employers in the US offer health insurance for their full-time or equivalent employees. If you are able to secure a full-time job and go to school, make sure you ask about your health insurance benefits. Employers are not required to offer health insurance, however, the penalties for this are very costly. Many of them offer ACA compliant plans and share the cost of insurance with their employees.

Patriot Travel Plan – Standard Level

With the recent 2018 updates to all of our insurance plans, our Patriot Travel plan – Standard level only will now offer coverage for US citizens inside the United States as long as they have lived outside of the United States for the last 6 consecutive months and they purchase the plan before the travel to the US. However, this plan is not an ACA compliant plan and thus, you will have to pay for the tax penalty on your taxes.  

 

Dual Citizenship

Changing times

While living in the US as a US citizen, you are required to file a tax return with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) every year. Even though it’s never a good idea to be uninsured in the US, you can choose to pay the ACA tax penalty. This fine is 2.5% of your yearly household income or $695 USD per person – whichever one is higher.

However, as the new US administration frantically tries to come up with a better solution for healthcare, much talk of a repeal of the ACA mandate is in the works. As of now, for the tax years 2016, 2017, and 2018, anyone without proper health insurance coverage will be subject to the tax penalty. Beginning with 2019 tax returns filed in 2020, the latest tax reform has eliminated the ACA tax penalty.

Despite the cloudy future of the Affordable Care Act and the mixed signals from the current administration for a better alternative, it’s imperative to be prepared and insured when you come to study in the United States. A car accident or a severe illness could bury you in thousands of dollars in debt.

 

There are many advantages for having dual citizenship. You will be able to travel between both countries easily, have access to two social service systems, vote and work in both countries. However, there are drawbacks as you will also have dual obligations and possibly double taxation. When it comes to choosing a health insurance plan, you will need to follow certain guidelines required to all US citizens.

Drug and Alcohol Awareness for International Students

February 14th, 2018 by Leah Hammond

Travel Medical Insurance plan update

For many students, going away to college will be the first time you are away from the familiarity of being with your family and friends. While this can be a very exciting time, moving your entire life to a new city, state, or even a new country can be a nerve-wracking experience. To cope with this new-found freedom, some students may turn to experimenting with drug use or binge drinking. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those who are enrolled in a full-time college program are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than those who don’t attend college. 

For international students, there are many additional factors that may lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Due to cultural differences, you may not fully understand the extenuating circumstances that can lead to substance abuse and the consequences that could result. It is important to educate yourself on drug and alcohol awareness and what programs and resources are available to you while attending college in the United States.

Why do International Students Experiment with Drugs and Alcohol?

As an international student, this is most likely your first time away from home. You may feel nervous about being on your own in a new place, overwhelmed with new challenges and responsibilities, and a strong need to fit in with your community. These are all feelings that could cause you to turn towards experimenting with drugs and alcohol for the first time.

  • Lifestyle Changes. For many international students, being away from home for the first time can be intimidating. Cultural differences, language barriers, and the distance between family and friends can be daunting. Dealing with culture shock, home sickness, and anxiety can lead to the use of alcohol and drugs.
  • Stress. Managing the high-demands of coursework, extracurricular activities, finances and social obligations can be hard to juggle for any student. As an international student, you must also keep in mind your immigration status, which may cause additional stress. To maintain an active visa status, international students much attend and pass all classes and be enrolled in a full course load. Attending and passing all classes and being enrolled in a full course load is important to maintain an active visa status. This factor may lead to the abuse of stimulant-based drugs to help stay awake and study, or alcohol abuse to mask the feeling of stress.
  • Peer pressure. Fitting in is a common influence that can lead students to experiment with drugs and alcohol in college. Typically, international students come to the United States not knowing anyone, so it is very likely that you may experiment with things you may not normally feel comfortable with in order to make friends and feel accepted.

What are the Consequences of Experimenting with Drugs and Alcohol?

Alcohol and drug use can impair one’s judgment leading to poor decision making and unsafe circumstances. Legal trouble, sexual assault, and accidental injuries are some of the common issues seen on college campuses that result from excessive drinking and drug use. 

  • In many countries around the world, the minimum drinking age is 18 or younger, so alcohol consumption may be a more normal part of your culture. In the United States, however, it is important to keep in mind that the minimum drinking age is 21. This means that consuming alcohol before turning 21 is illegal and could result in legal action. Drunk driving is also a serious criminal offense that could be a consequence of misusing alcohol and can result in high fines, jail time, and having your drivers license suspended. For international students, legal trouble could affect your visa status and could even result in your visa being revoked
  • Being under the influence impairs your ability to give consent to sexual activity. Over half of the reported sexual assaults on college campuses involved alcohol or drug use. It is important to know your limits, watch your drink, and stay with your friends to protect yourself from a potentially dangerous situation.  
  • Each year, nearly 500,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 have been unintentionally injured due to alcohol and drugs use. Of these injuries, about 1,400 have resulted in death. Alcohol poisoning, falling from balconies or open windows, and motor vehicle crashes are among the most common ways that students are injured while under the influence.

Drug and Alcohol Awareness

Many colleges and universities in the United States have implemented programs on campus to educate their students about the harms of drug and alcohol abuse. These programs are typically included during orientation and attendance is required by all new students. During these programs, your school may address the health risks associated with misusing drugs and alcohol, as well as school standards and disciplinary actions that may be enforced.

Your school will also provide you with information for where you can go if you feel you may have a problem with substance dependency or abuse. On-campus counseling centers are usually a great place to start if you feel like you need help. Some schools may also have clubs that you can join that focus on recreational activities that don’t involve alcohol or drug consumption.

Besides the programs that are offered by colleges and universities, there are many additional resources available outside of your campus, where you may feel more comfortable seeking treatment.

 

HIPAA and Privacy Laws in the US

January 12th, 2018 by Jennifer Frankel

Many people would agree that medical information should be confidential, and in the US, there are laws that govern what information can be given out to third parties. This law, called HIPAA (or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), protects the “privacy and security of certain health information.” If you have ever had medical treatment covered by an insurance plan or if you’ve tried to get access to someone else’s medical information, you’ve probably heard about HIPAA.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is a set of security standards that regulates the privacy of individually identifiable health information (also known as Personal Health Information), including:

  • What information can be given out
  • How that information can be disclosed
  • Security measures to make sure information is protected

While this law is quite extensive, it’s important that international students recognize that it protects what information is given out by a doctor, hospital, or clinic, including how the information is transmitted and to whom it is given.

Confidentiality Matters

Many international students who seek medical attention in the US should know that the information they give to their healthcare provider is protected. No family member, friend, or school administrator has access to your medical records – even if you go to the student health center or counseling center. This means that they cannot call up your doctor to find out what happened. And the protection doesn’t stop there. Even the insurance company is bound to keep your information private, which means that they too are not allowed to divulge your medical information.

Some Roadblocks

Because the penalty is so high for a breach in confidentiality, many providers are very strict in it’s enforcement. Great news for those of you who want to make sure your medical information stays private, but not so easy if you need help getting a claim processed. Consider these scenarios.

  1. You are over the age of 18 and your mother called to follow-up on a pending claim. She was told that she could not get any personal information, and that you would need to call to get an update.
  2. Your international student advisor was kind enough to help you through the claim process, but was unable to get your medical records to submit to the insurance company. Your advisor contacts you and says that you must call directly.
  3. Your claim was processed, but was denied and not paid to your doctor. Your school advisor calls the insurance company to find out why it was denied, but they are told that you will need to call.

All of these are examples of how HIPAA may affect the way that your claim is processed, and what others can do on your behalf. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though, where you can overcome these roadblocks by taking a few extra minutes and getting release forms signed.

Overcoming Roadblocks: The Release Form

So how does someone overcome the challenges of getting their medical information to the people or organizations that need it? Medical release or authorization forms!  You have the ability to give permission to companies and individuals allowing them access to your personal information by completing a medical release or authorization form from your insurance company or directly at the provider’s office.

Because these confidentiality rules apply to every healthcare provider, though, every doctor, hospital, and clinic – and even the insurance company – will need your authorization to give out your information to anyone but you!

Oftentimes, providers give you these forms right when you arrive for your appointment. Make sure to read the wording thoroughly, and ask questions as needed. Many forms often give the doctor, clinic or hospital authorization to release your information to the insurance company. This form may also allow you to name additional people you’d like to grant access to as well.


Tip: Be sure to list all individuals on this form to avoid having to add people later. This not only includes your insurance company, but may also include relatives or a school administrator who may be able to help you through the process. If you do not list them at the time of visit, you will need to call your provider’s office to see what the process is to add someone to the list of authorized individuals, otherwise you might have to request this information yourself.


If you do not fill out an authorization form, you may have to go directly to the provider to request your medical records in order to file a claim with your insurance company. You may also want to check with your insurance company to see if they have a medical release form. In some cases, the insurance company can send this to the provider so that they can get the medical information directly from the provider.

Note: Not every provider will accept the medical release form from the insurance company, so you may be required to fill out two: one from the insurance company and another from your provider.

The medical release form is also important if you want help filing a claim. If you are over 18 years old, your parent can’t get the status of your claim without this form. If you want to give them access, fill out the authorization form and send it back to the insurance company. Be sure to name all those people you would like to give access to, including a parent, school administrator, or even your insurance agent.

While privacy laws vary country by country, it’s very important that international students understand why these laws are in place, and what you need to do to prevent any delays with your claims. If you have questions about a claim, the best thing to do is look at your insurance card, find the contact information and be sure to ask all of your questions. While it may seem like busy work, the intent is to make sure you and your information are protected.

>> Learn more about the US Healthcare System

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We offer a range of international health and travel insurance plans for both students and non-students including:

Student Secure

International Student Health Insurance for full time students around the world.
Student Health Insurance

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International Travel Medical Insurance for anyone outside of their home country.
Travel Medical Insurance

Global Medical

International Major Medical Insurance for those needing long term coverage.
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