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.

10 thoughts on “What International Students Need to Know About Prescriptions”

Ziyang says:

Hello, Bryanna Davis. I am an international student and it is my 6th week to arrive at US. And I have been curing hepatitis for more than 2 years. I wonder why my insurance needs me to pay extra $40 to buy Baraclude Entecavir Tablets. Is there any better advises to get this medicine in a lower price? I will stay here about 3 years.

Thank you!

Ramez Stephan says:

Hello Ziyang,

Thank you for your comment.

We have replied directly to your email in order to assist you further, kindly check your inbox.

We look forward to assisting you.

Best regards,

Taewon Park says:

Hello I have a question about the insurance. Few days ago, I bought the insurance also I got a medical card I can’t use it for pharmacy. Do you have drug plan card???

Thank you

Hello Taewon,

Thanks for your comment.

We have replied directly to your email in order to assist you further, kindly check your inbox.

We look forward to assisting you.

Best regards,

Mattia says:

Hello I have a question about how to get prescribed anxiety drugs such as xanax in the US having a student visa. Is it possible? Could the doctor reject my demand due to the reason that I am not American and I am a foreign student?

Thank you

Hello Mattia,

Thanks for your comment. Our first recommendation for you would be that you have health insurance, since the healthcare system in the US is expensive, the cost for doctor’s visits and prescriptions can add up and become pricey. Additionally, if you have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past, this will make it a pre-existing condition, therefore, you must find a plan that includes pre-existing condition coverage.

If you’re studying in the US on an F-1 visa, our Student Secure plan would be an excellent option. This plan includes benefits for mental health as well as for pre-existing conditions coverage after a waiting period of 6 months on the levels Select and Elite!

I have sent an email with more information about this plan.

Have a wonderful day!

Eva says:

Hello Bryanna Davis,
I would like to ask you a question.
I’m planning to study in the US and specifically in New York for the fall 2021.
Although, I have a serious health problem with my kidneys and blood. I have lupus.
That means that I take a lot of medicines every day .
My questions is what can I do, in order to continue take my medication and outside of my home country . I am from Greece .
Thank you for your time,
I am looking forward for your response.

Hello Eva,

Thanks for contacting us. Our team has reached out regarding health insurance options for you.

Have a great day!

Taruna Sudhakar says:

Hi there!

I’m currently on metformin and thyroxine and I was wondering just how much of that medication I can carry on the flight to the US. Will it cause any problems with customs?

Hello Taruna,

Thanks for contacting us. Unfortunately, we’re unable to assist you with this inquiry. Our recommendation is that you contact your airline regarding any restrictions there might be in place for medications when traveling.

Best of luck!

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