What International Students Need to Know About Prescriptions

medication 122524542Medical costs in the United States are very expensive and prescriptions are no exception. To keep your medical costs low and your body healthy, get information on what international students need to know about prescriptions.

Understand Your Health Insurance When in the US
There is a wide variety of health insurance plans for international students to choose from and each plan will fall into one of the following two categories. Know which category your plan fits into so when the need strikes you know how to obtain your prescription.

  1. Individual Insurance Plan
    If your school does not require you to purchase a specific plan you can find and purchase the health insurance plan of your choice. In most cases, individual insurance plans include prescription coverage even if they do not have separate prescription medication program. If you need a prescription while on an individual plan you will pay for your prescription up front and file a claim for reimbursement. If you’re not sure how to file a claim contact your agent or insurance company for assistance.
  2. School Group Insurance Plan
    Your school might have a group health insurance plan that they allow or require you to enroll in. If you need a prescription while on your school’s group insurance plan you will more than likely be able to obtain it in the same way that those on an individual plan can.

If you receive a prescription card after buying your health insurance coverage make sure you show the pharmacist your card when picking up your prescription. To confirm the prescription coverage on your school’s group plan please request these directly from your school.

If your school has a group plan they will either:

i. Allow you to voluntarily enroll.
ii. Require you to enroll.
iii. Allow you to waive the school plan when comparable coverage is available.

Whether you have a school group plan or an individual plan it’s important to find out how much prescription coverage your plan includes. Review your insurance plan documents to confirm your out of pocket expenses including copays, deductibles and coinsurance. Ensure that you also take note on the difference in cost when you visit a provider that is in-network, as opposed to a provider that is out of network. If you are currently taking medication you’ll also need to find out if it will be covered – don’t forget to research plan exclusions and waiting periods, as pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered.

Research Discount and Free Prescription Programs
Depending on the medication you need and which pharmacy you visit you might be able to get your prescription at a discount or even free of charge. Below is a list of pharmacies in various locations around the US that offer discount pharmacy programs.

Bring Your Medication
If you take medication regularly, we suggest that you bring a good supply with you. If you plan on buying it in the US you not only run the risk of having to pay for this medication at full cost, but you also run the risk of the United States not having the same medications that were available to you in your home country.

Remember, many international student health insurance plans exclude coverage for conditions you’ve had prior to the start date of your plan (known as a pre-existing condition), or you may need to wait a certain period of time before you get covered for your prescriptions.

If you have questions on prescription medication for international students you can contact us for further guidance.

Posted by Bryanna Davis

Bryanna joined International Student Insurance in 2011 after returning to the United States from teaching English in China. Her interest in international education, sparked initially by her own study abroad experience in Wales, led her to the company. Bryanna is originally from Missouri and is a graduate from the University of Central Missouri.

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