I have heard many questions from students and recent graduates concerning OPT (Optional Practical Training) health insurance. Some of these questions have been: Do I really need health insurance since I’m not in school anymore? My school has a policy for those on OPT but it is very costly, is there any other plan I can get? I may only need insurance for a few months before I get a job, what do I do in this situation?
These are all very common concerns regarding health insurance for international students on OPT. Health insurance can be quite costly, especially for students and recent graduates. However, health insurance is absolutely essential in the US. Healthcare is very expensive, and there is no government-sponsored insurance or healthcare available to you.
At many schools, once you are on OPT you are no longer eligible for the school insurance plan. For those schools that do offer an OPT insurance plan for their F1 students, prices are often exorbitant. I have seen school plans range anywhere from $90 all the way up to $230 a month. You know as well as I do that this is a large sum of money for a recent graduate to pay each month. Don’t be discouraged because there are plans that are affordable and comprehensive, and you don’t need to purchase your school plan.
One such plan that works well for students on OPT is the Atlas America plan. This plan is available here: http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/atlas_america/. This comprehensive and affordable plan covers just about any injury or illness you may have, and includes coverage for doctor visits, hospital room and board, ambulance costs, prescription drugs and physical therapy. Prices start as low as $38 per month.
An option you may want to consider is group coverage under the Atlas America plan. You must have at least 5 people under the plan (the people under this plan do not have to be related, they can be friends, however they must all be under the same plan with the same deductible, maximum coverage limit, etc.). This way you qualify for a group discount so this will lessen your payment each month.
Many international students that are on OPT are waiting to be hired or enter graduate school. So, a common concern is that you will have to purchase health insurance for a 12 month period. This is not the case. If you are going on OPT you can purchase insurance for as little as 5 days to 12 months of coverage. For instance, upon graduation you could purchase health insurance for three months. Then after three months, if you still don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance, you can extend your existing plan. That way you’ll never be in the predicament where you have two plans, one with employer-sponsored and one you purchased yourself.
For more information on the Atlas America plan, click here:
For more information on OPT rules, visit this post in the InternationalFinancialAidBlog:
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F1 Students in the US (October 18, 2006 weekly issue)