As the new school year is right upon us and many students are attending student orientations and registering for classes, most schools require that students purchase international student health insurance coverage either from them directly (the schools plan) or they can show proof of adequate, alternate coverage. With school plans costing upwards of $2,000 per year, that can be an expensive option – so it’s always good to look for other alternatives.
When looking for plans DO NOT just look at the monthly price! Although there are attractive options out there, you MUST look at the benefits and features since these plans could put you in more financial trouble if you get sick or injured.
To help you out – here are some of the top items to watch out for:
Tip #1 – Policy Maximum/ Coinsurance
When a plan states their policy maximum, ALWAYS look at the coinsurance that goes along with that plan. Coinsurance is the amount you will be paying towards your insurance plan if you get sick or injured – ideally you want this capped out, so that your coinsurance is only applicable up to a certain dollar amount.
Some plans, have their coinsurance setup like this:
Policy Maximum – $200,000
Coinsurance – 100% up to $40,000 and then 80% up to policy maximum
Look very closely for plans like this. Take, for example, if you get hospitalized and it can costs $100,000 – the plan will pay 100% up to $40,000 and then only 80% of the remaining $60,000. This means you will be left with a bill of $12,000 to pay!!
Ideally, you want your plan to be written something like this:
Policy Maximum – $200,000
Coinsurance – 80% up to $10,000 and then 100% up to policy maximum
With this scenario, there is a maximum you will pay out of pocket of just $2,000 since it is capped! In the other scenario, you could owe thousands of dollars!
Tip #2 – Cap on Medical Benefits
Look out for plans that cap actual medical benefits – things to be careful of are:
- Per day dollar cap on benefits (for example – $800 per day)
- If you are hospitalized with a per day cap like this on benefits, hospitalization can run up to $1,500 or more depending on the injury/ sickness – if this is capped you will have a large payment on your hands!
- Number of days cap when benefits will be paid (for example – only paying for 8 or 25 days of treatment)
- If you only have 8 days of coverage, anything over that will be your responsibility. If you are in a car crash, you could be needed more than 8 days coverage
- Prescription capped at $100 max
- Some prescriptions today cost more than $100 – such as Tamiflu if you get the flu. If you have a max cap like that, you will be paying a lot for your medicines!
Tip #3 – Payment Flexibility
We all know that money is tight as a student – so look for plans that offer you the functionality to pay for your plan in monthly installments. You can spread the cost of your insurance over the year, and it avoids you having to pay all upfront for a full year of coverage!
Tip #4 – Sport Coverage
If you’re in college, you will most likely be playing sports in some shape or form – therefore you will want a plan that covers you if something happens when you are playing sports. Look out for plans that do not cover sports related injures such as intercollegiate, intramural and club sports! You do not want to have an injury and have to cover the full cost of your medical treatment.
Hopefully these 4 tips will help you choose the right plan – and help you avoid the common pitfalls. You do not want to end up paying more than you need to when a plan a few dollars more will cover you 100% for most injuries and illnesses!