Understanding Insurance Plan Networks

October 2nd, 2020 by Natalie Holland

When it comes to considering which insurance plan is right for you, it is important to familiarize yourself with the insurance plan’s network of doctors, hospitals or clinics – often referred to as a provider network. A provider network is essentially a list of doctors, hospitals and clinics where you can get medical attention.

Before purchasing an insurance plan, take the time to find out where you can go, and make sure you can get to them easily. If you already have a relationship with a doctor, you may want to confirm that they are part of the plan’s network otherwise filing a claim may be more difficult (and depending on your plan, you may have to pay more out of pocket).

Why is a Provider Network so Important? 

Our Student Secure plan works with the UnitedHealthcare network, one of the largest networks in the U.S.

Health insurance costs in the US are very expensive, so many insurance companies will negotiate the rates directly with doctors, hospitals and clinics. As part of this arrangement, you will often pay less out of pocket and filing a claim will be much easier. Before even enrolling in an insurance plan, it’s important to search what options you have, and make sure that you can easily get there if you need to seek medical attention.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of going to a doctor, hospital, or clinic that is in your insurance plan’s network. 

Save on Costs

One of the advantages of going inside the network is that your insurance company has agreed to a discounted rate with that provider. Because of this, the insurance company will typically pass on the savings to you, and you will pay less out of pocket. Your deductible, copay and/or coinsurance will typically be less that what you would pay if you went to a provider that is not in your insurance plan’s network.

Another advantage is that your insurance plan will typically only cover what is Usual Reasonable and Customary (URC). URC is the average cost of treatment in that area. If you go inside the plan’s network, the rates are agreed upon by both the provider and the insurance company, and there is no concern that they are billing you above that cost. However, if you go outside the network, the provider can charge whatever they’d like for treatment. That means that if your provider bills you more than the URC, you could be paying an unexpected amount out of pocket. 

Less Hassle

Another advantage of going in-network is that there is a streamlined process for direct billing to your insurance company. This means that you don’t have to pay for your medical expenses up front (you will still need to pay the deductible or copay at the time of visit), and can instead have the provider bill the insurance company directly to pay for any covered expenses. You will need to present your ID card at the time of treatment, and your doctor, hospital or clinic will send the bills directly to the insurance company to be paid. While there is great benefit in direct billing, you may still need to submit some paperwork before your claim can be processed so be sure to check with your insurance company. 

How to Find Providers Inside the Network

Now that we’ve outlined the importance of going inside your plan’s provider network, we will turn our attention to how to find providers inside your plan’s network.

Many insurance plans will have an online search tool where you can find all of the participating providers in your geographic location. If you have a specific doctor or clinic that you would like to go to, you can always give them a call just to make sure they accept the network of the plan you intend to purchase. Your insurance ID card will oftentimes have the logo of the network that the plan uses, so that you can let your doctor know the network your plan uses.

Our most popular insurance plans for international students, the Student Secure, Patriot Exchange and Student Health Advantage plans, use the UnitedHealthcare network. The UnitedHealthcare network is one of the largest networks in the United States, has providers in all 50 states, and provides an easy-to-use online search tool to locate providers within your area!

Learn more about insurance provider networks by checking out our related articles on our Insurance Explained section.

Student Secure: Choosing the Level That’s Best for You

September 29th, 2020 by Sally Mcleod

Choosing a health insurance plan to cover you in case the unexpected happens is now more important than ever. Whether you’re re-evaluating your health insurance needs, purchasing a plan to meet your school’s or visa requirements, or looking for a plan to cover you on OPT, it can be challenging to make the right decision on the level of coverage that works best for your needs and your budget. 

Our Student Secure plan is our most popular health insurance option for international students on a F-1, M-1 or J-1 visa. This plan is available in four levels so students can choose the benefits that work best for their needs.

We’ve highlighted some key benefits to consider to help you choose which level is best for you! 

Maximum Coverage

The policy maximum is the total amount that the insurance company is obligated to pay each year for covered expenses; any expenses in excess of the policy maximum will not be covered. The overall policy maximum differs from the maximum paid out per injury / illness, so it’s important to differentiate the two. The maximum per injury or illness is the total amount the plan will cover per condition. So, for example, if you had a major accident, the Smart plan would cover that accident up to $100,000, but the total coverage you would have on the plan is $200,000 each year. 

You can see the differences of the four levels and the different coverage options below:

Overall Maximum$200,000$500,000$600,000$5,000,000
Maximum per injury / illness$100,000$250,000$300,000$500,000

Deductible & Coinsurance 

While evaluating the various levels of coverage, it’s equally important to consider the amount of out of pocket expenses you can expect. The deductible varies depending on which level you choose as well as where you get medical treatment. After the deductible is paid, you will be responsible for any coinsurance. The coinsurance is the difference between what you and the insurance company pays towards the total cost of a covered condition. After the deductible, the Smart level covers 80% of your medical bills (you pay 20%) up to the policy maximum. Alternatively, if you go inside the plan’s network on the Elite level, after the deductible the plan will cover 100% up to the policy maximum.

You can see that as you move up in the levels of coverage, the insurance company covers more: 

Deductible per injury / illnessIn network: $50
Out of network: $100
In network: $45
Out of network: $90
In network: $35
Out of network: $70
In network: $25
Out of network: $50
Coinsurance (Inside the USA) In network: 80% up to the maximum
Out of network: Usual, Reasonable, and Customary (URC) 
In network: 80% up to $25,000, then 100% thereafter
Out of network: Usual, Reasonable, and Customary (URC) 
In network: 80% up to $5,000, then 100% thereafter
Out of network: Usual, Reasonable, and Customary (URC) 
In network: 100% In network
Out of network: Usual, Reasonable, and Customary (URC) 

Organized Sports

It’s important to understand what type of sports coverage is offered on each level of the Student Secure plan. While all levels of the Student Secure plan cover leisure and recreational sports, you will need to purchase the optional sports rider on the Budget, Select and Elite levels if you want additional coverage for intercollegiate, interscholastic, intramural or club sports. The coverage of this rider varies depending on the level:

Sports & Activities
Leisure, Recreational, Entertainment, Fitness
Up to the Overall Maximum LimitUp to the Overall Maximum LimitUp to the Overall Maximum LimitUp to the Overall Maximum Limit
Optional Sports Add-OnNo coverageup to $3,000up to $5,000up to $5,000


When conception occurs after the insurance plan’s start date, the Student Secure covers maternity on the Budget, Select and Elite levels, including pre-natal, delivery, and post-natal care as well as expenses for miscarriage and complications of pregnancy.

MaternityNo CoverageUp to $5,000Up to $10,000Up to $25,000

Mental Health

The Student Secure provides benefits for mental health, including coverage for substance and alcohol abuse on all levels of the plan. Many schools require students to have mental health coverage on their health insurance plan and it’s important to evaluate which level will meet any necessary requirements. 

Mental HealthOutpatient: Up to $50 per day
$500 maximum  Inpatient: Up to $5,000
Outpatient: Maximum of 30 visits.
Coverage includes drug and alcohol abuse.
Inpatient: Maximum of 30 days.
Coverage includes drug and alcohol abuse.
Outpatient: Maximum of 30 visits.
Coverage includes drug and alcohol abuse.
Inpatient: Maximum of 30 days.
Coverage includes drug and alcohol abuse.
Outpatient: Maximum of 30 visits.
Coverage includes drug and alcohol abuse.
Inpatient: Maximum of 30 days.
Coverage includes drug and alcohol abuse.

Pre-existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions can be covered on the Student Secure plan after 6 months on the Select or Elite levels and after 12 months for the Budget level. The Smart plan does not cover pre-existing conditions at all. However, all four levels include up to $25,000 in coverage for an acute onset of a pre-existing condition (which means that there would be limited coverage for a sudden and unexpected occurrence or recurrence of a pre-existing condition, except if the condition was chronic or congenital).

Pre-existing Conditions No Coverage (acute onset up to $25,000)12 month waiting period6 month waiting period6 month waiting period

Vaccination & Personal Liability

Additional benefits for vaccinations and personal liability can be found on the Elite level. This level will offer coverage for personal liability up to $250,000 and immunization coverage for routine vaccinations inside the US, up to $150. 

It’s important to evaluate each level of coverage and determine what works best for your personal needs in addition to any requirements that you may have from your school. All levels of the Student Secure plan will meet the US department of state requirements for the J visa, in addition to offering coverage for COVID-19, as any other eligible illness allowing for direct payment when going inside the plan’s provider network

The GeoBlue Navigator Plan: International Health Insurance

September 23rd, 2020 by Natalie Holland

The Navigator plan is a great insurance plan option for those who want a policy with comprehensive coverage while outside of their home country. With benefits included for preventive and primary care, this plan is designed to cover you for as little as 3 months up to one year. You can also renew this plan annually. This plan offers concierge-level medical assistance and direct payment to any doctor, hospital, or clinic in the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the US or in their extensive, yet carefully selected provider network outside the U.S.

The GeoBlue Navigator plan has an unlimited annual maximum outside and inside the United States. Additionally, the Navigator allows you to customize specific aspects so that you can get the exact plan you need. For one, you can choose your deductible from $0 to $5,000 which sets your coinsurance maximum. With a $0 deductible, your coinsurance maximum is only $1,000! Along with coverage for new eligible injuries and illnesses that occur after the plan starts, this policy has coverage for 8 primary care office visits, preventive care for children and adults, and unlimited telemedicine visits. Keeping the needs of international travelers and students in mind, this plan also provides coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation in amounts that meet and exceed most visa requirements. You can read even more about the benefits of this plan by visiting our Navigator Benefits page.

Coverage for COVID-19 is included in this plan, just like any other eligible illness. If you have symptoms and need to be tested for COVID-19, this plan can cover testing as well as subsequent treatment. For more information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 please visit our Coronavirus Information page

This policy is medically underwritten, so you would have to answer a series of medical history and lifestyle questions when you apply for coverage. Based on your responses to these questions, the insurer can decide (1) to rider the policy to exclude certain conditions, (2) to increase the amount of premium required for the coverage, or (3) to deny coverage entirely. You will be contacted for approval prior to the insurer increasing the premium, and if riders are added to your plan, you’ll have the option to cancel within 10 days for a full refund.

To start your personalized quote, or to apply for coverage, click here.

If you have questions about the plan, or would like to speak directly with one of our licensed customer service representatives, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you.

  • Toll Free in the US: (877) 758-4391
  • Direct: +1 (904) 758-4391
  • Email: info@internationalstudentinsurance.com 
  • Chat with Us

InternationalStudent.com Launches TVC: Life After Lockdown

September 14th, 2020 by Bryanna Davis
TVC 2020

Each year students around the world anticipate the annual Travel Video Contest hosted by InternationalStudent.com. For 14 years thousands of videos have been created by students in all corners of the globe sharing where they would like to travel during their time as an international student, or where they would like to study. With a global pandemic, during the 15th year of the contest it has received a refresh; students can enter the 2020 contest by submitting a 2 minute or less video that shares one or both of the following:

  • How COVID-19 has impacted your international education or cultural exchange experience abroad
  • Your ideal international education or cultural exchange after Covid-19

The contest officially opened on September 1st and will remain open for new entries until October 13th. Entrants have the chance to win one of the following prizes:

  • First Place Winner: $4,000
  • Second Place Winner: $500
  • Third Place Winner: $250
  • Viewers’ Choice Award Winner: $1,000

The Viewers’ Choice Award Winner will be determined by votes from visitors like you and announced with the other finalists during the week of November 9th. The First Place, Second Place and Third Place Winners will be determined by our esteemed judges panel comprised of international educators, travelers and supporters. If you would like to enter the InternationalStudent.com TVC: Life After Lockdown contest make sure you enter before the October 13th deadline. You can get started by reading the contest rules and getting extra tips for success. Once you’ve created your short video for the contest, enter to win right online. Good luck!

How to Deal with Medical Debt in the US

September 1st, 2020 by Yessica Prato

A few years ago, I was biking with my dog through a trail. Back then, I didn’t have health insurance, I was a college student in the US working two part-time minimum wage jobs, and I wasn’t wearing a helmet. As Murphy’s law would have it, my dog pulled me hard to one side, I flew over the handles of my bike and hit my head on the concrete. Since I couldn’t get up, my mom drove me to the emergency room (ER). I spent 4 hours in the ER and was sent home with pain medication. 

A week later, I received a bill in the mail for $1,200 USD from the ER. Two days after that, I received two more bills. All together, my 4-hour visit to the ER cost me $16,000 USD. That was the equivalent of two semesters in college for me! Now what?

Unpaid medical bills create a great deal of anxiety in any person, especially when you’re not familiar with the medical system in a foreign country. The US healthcare system is very complex and if you are already receiving bills in the mail, there is no need to panic! Here are some ways to deal with medical bills:

Know your options

When I received all those bills from the ER, I had no idea what to do. My parents didn’t know the US healthcare system and didn’t speak any English. I began researching my options and learned that the hospital offered financial assistance for those that didn’t have health insurance. Many hospitals in the US have a financial assistance policy or charity care assistance. They could offer you several options:

  • They might reduce your bills
  • They may set you on a payment plan
  • They might forgive the whole debt if you can prove that you don’t have the financial resources to pay them back 

The best advice is to call their billing office and inquire about your options. 

Deal or No Deal?

The advantage of having an insurance plan is that the insurance company has already negotiated how much a doctor or a hospital can charge you for medical treatment. However, if you don’t have insurance, you will need to bring your negotiating skills to the table. Without insurance, hospitals will bill you from their chargemaster, or the full price of a medical treatment. This is where you can work out a deal and ask the hospital to lower the pricing of your bills based on how much they charge insurance companies. If you’re wondering how much a specific exam or treatment costs, you can use Healthcare Bluebook. This tool shows fair pricing for medical procedures. 

Patience and Persistence are Key

Advocating for yourself can be very stressful but like any great negotiator will tell you, you have to be persistent and patient. Medical debt is more common in the US than you think. According to a study done by Health Affairs in 2018, one in six people in the US have past-due medical bills. I started receiving calls from the hospital within a month of receiving my $16,000 medical bills threatening me with sending my bills to collections if I didn’t pay. I explained my situation to them and they put me in contact with their financial assistance office. My university also offered free legal counseling that taught me how to ask for extensions on my bills. The hospital reduced my bills to 45%. However, I was still unable to pay $7,200 USD. Eventually, they sent me to collections. Here is what I did after…

Other Resources

With the stress of exams and homework in school and working my part-time jobs, dealing with my medical bills took a backseat. The hospital sent me to collections and the calls started coming. My legal counselor at school advised me to get in contact with a medical counselor working for a non-profit credit organization. He was able to negotiate my bills down to $1,000 USD and helped me get on a payment plan with the collection agency. There are many organizations like this, however, be mindful which one has the best interest in your case. If you are offered loans, this is not the right organization. To find a credit counselor, you may visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. They offer assistance in English and Spanish. 

Don’t let medical debts ruin your international education experience. You are not alone dealing with this type of debt and there are many resources to help you navigate the US healthcare system. If I’ve taken anything away from this experience that I would like to pass on to you is how to prevent medical bills in the first place:

  • Wear your helmet when you’re riding a bike. Wear your mask in public. Wear your safety gear when you practice sports or your seatbelt if you’re riding in a car. Safety first!
  • Having health insurance is very important. Insurance companies have contracted networks that work with several doctors and hospitals. You will not have to pay the full price since they’ve already negotiated the pricing for medical procedures.
  • Be aware of what your insurance plan will and will not cover. Read through your benefits and exclusions so you don’t have unexpected expenses. You can also contact the insurance company before going to the doctor and confirm your benefits.
  • When trying to find a doctor, be sure to search inside the insurance plan’s network. These are doctors that are contracted to accept your plan when using your health insurance.

2020-2021 International Student Insurance for Broward College

August 5th, 2020 by Jennifer Frankel

Broward College requires that all international students enroll in a health insurance plan before the start of classes. International Student Insurance (ISI) has a plan that will meet Broward requirements and save you money!

>> Learn more      >> Buy Now

Who Needs Coverage?

If you are an international student or on Optional Practical Training (also known as OPT), then Broward College will require you to have health insurance before you can start enrolling in classes. 

What Does Your Insurance Need to Cover?

Broward College requires that international students (including those on OPT) have coverage for the following benefits:

  • Major medical expenses (including hospitalization, doctor visits, surgery, etc.)
  • Medical evacuation
  • Repatriation of remains

To meet your schools requirements, you will also need to have coverage for the entire Fall, Spring or Summer semester. Broward College requires that your coverage period includes annual vacations and summer breaks.

Which International Student Insurance Is Right?

The Student Secure is a popular option for international students and is available in four levels: Smart, Budget, Select, and Elite. All four levels will meet and exceed the health insurance requirements for international students at Broward College.

Health Insurance Coverage Form

Once you have enrolled in the plan, then you will need to submit the Health Insurance Coverage Form to your school to remove any hold on your account. Simply complete the student section of your form and email it to info@internationalstudentinsurance.com. We will have this form completed and submitted to your school within 1-2 business days.


If you are looking for 2020-2021 international student insurance for Broward College and need help, feel free to contact our Customer Service Team as they are familiar with the process and can help you step-by-step:

US Toll Free: (877) 758-4391

Intl Number: +1 (904) 758-4391

Chat With Us


Navigating the US Healthcare System During COVID-19

August 3rd, 2020 by Diana Nolasco

As our lives have been turned upside down with COVID-19, it’s important to prioritize our health more than ever! International Student Insurance is here to help and will be hosting a live webinar event to provide you with all you need to know about Navigating the US Healthcare System During COVID-19

When: Wednesday, August 19th

Time: 10am EST

Where: YouTubeLive

Join our very own insurance expert, Sally McLeod, who will provide you with a breakdown of the US Healthcare system and choosing an insurance plan that’s right for you. Sally will explain the different types of insurance plans available and common benefits and exclusions to be on the lookout for. She will walk you step by step and help you learn about where to go, when to seek treatment and under what circumstances, along with answering all your questions! 

We hope to see you there and equip you with the tools to get the care you need, when you need it most! 

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International Student Insurance for Nova Southeastern University

July 31st, 2020 by Jennifer Frankel

If you are an international student studying at the Nova Southeastern University, then you will need to have a health insurance plan for the entire time you are in Florida. Our international student health insurance plan will meet the NSU waiver guidelines and saves you $1,604 per year:

If you choose to purchase your own insurance plan, you will need to have enrolled in the plan and submitted your waiver form by September 28, 2020 (Fall Term) or October 12, 2020 (Fall Term- Second Part).

Alternative NSU Insurance Option

If you are interested in a health insurance plan for Nova Southeastern University, International Student Insurance (ISI) has developed an insurance plan just for you! This plan is designed to be affordable, and will provide you with comprehensive coverage, including all of the requirements listed by your school.

Why ISI?

  • The ISI plan for NSU costs $1.48 per day (ages 24 and younger), and will save you $1,604 per year compared to your school’s insurance plan.
  • The ISI plan for NSU has a $45 deductible per condition (your school’s plan has a $400 deductible per year).
  • You can purchase same day coverage and have your documents right away to complete your school’s waiver online

International Student Enrollment Process

If you are interested in enrolling, the process is quick and easy. Simply learn more about the StudentSecure-NSU plan and enroll when you are ready.

We will submit your confirmation of coverage to your school so that they remove the hold and you can enroll in classes.

As always, let us know if you have any questions by contacting us at:

International Student Insurance


Toll Free: 877-758-4391

Intl Number: +1 (904) 758-4391

Our customer service team is here to help over the phone, by email, or through our LiveChat.

International Student Insurance for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach

July 29th, 2020 by Jennifer Frankel

If you are an international student studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, check out our StudentSecure-ERAU plan that will meet your school’s insurance requirements.

International students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the Daytona Beach, Florida campus are required to have health insurance while studying in the US. While the university has a group health insurance plan available, international students have the flexibility to enroll in the school’s insurance plan or waive the group plan by purchasing their own private health insurance plan.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Insurance Requirements for International Students

If you are looking to enroll in a private health insurance plan, it is important to note that Embry-Riddle does require that your insurance plan meet the following requirements:

  • The insurance company is based in the US with a US address and phone number
  • Your plan provides for both emergency and non-emergency health care in Florida
  • Your plan has hospitals, physicians, pharmacies, and mental health care providers within 50-mile of campus
  • You plan provides inpatient/outpatient mental health care and chemical dependency
  • Your plan covers prescription medications, laboratory and radiology expenses
  • You can afford your plan’s deductible
  • Your plan has a maximum coverage benefit of at least $1,000,000
  • $50,000 minimum coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains

Before enrolling in any insurance plan, make sure that the plan will meet each of these requirements so that it will be accepted by your school.

Alternative Private Health Insurance for International Students

International Student Insurance (ISI) has developed a customized insurance plan just for international students studying at Embry-Riddle – Daytona Beach. This plan will meet and exceed all of the insurance requirements listed above. Not only this but the plan features:

  • An easy online application with immediate documents emailed with ID card
  • Worldwide coverage outside of your home country, including throughout Florida, and in all 50 states
  • Direct payment to any doctor, hospital or clinic through the UnitedHealthcare Network
  • Save up to $698.97 for the 2020-2021 year by enrolling in our plan!

International students can buy right online and get same day coverage. Students will also have access to 24-hour, 7-days a week multilingual emergency service in case the unexpected happens. 

How to Waive

As an international student looking to waive out of Embry-Riddle’s group insurance plan, you will need to complete a waiver once a year during the Fall waiver period (which is July 1, 2020 until August 14, 2020). To do this, you will need to follow these instructions on Embry Riddle’s Student Homepage:

  1. Click on Finances or Profile Tab 
  2. Click on Complete Health Insurance Info 
  3. Click on “Waive” 
  4. Complete instructions are in your TO DO List in ERNIE and in your TASKS TAB 
  5. Please scan a copy of your health insurance card (front & back) to dbwaiver@erau.edu to complete the waiver process 

For the latest information on your school’s process, check out their insurance information online.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact our Customer Service team at:


US Toll Free: (877) 758-4391

Intl Number: +1 (904) 247-1387

Updated Travel Medical plan for 2020

July 16th, 2020 by Yessica Prato

Our international travel medical insurance plan has been updated for 2020, with new pricing and many of the same great options and benefits!

Some highlights of the plan include:

  • Doctor’s visits and Hospitalizations
  • Medical Evacuation and Repatriation
  • Trip Interruption and Travel Delay
  • Extreme Sports like Skiing or Snowboarding
  • COVID-19 covered, the same as any other illness

It is a great insurance solution for those needing short term coverage (up to 1 year) inside the USA, such as international students, scholars, dependents, and it offers up to 3 years of coverage for those traveling outside of the USA.

Here are some of the key reasons why our travel medical plan is a great option:

UnitedHealthcare Network PPO

Flexible Plan Design

Direct payment of doctors/hospitals through UnitedHealthcare Network, one of the largest networks in the US with 6,600 hospitals, 770,000 doctors & healthcare professionals, and 1,000+ Convenient Clinics. You can choose your policy maximum between $50,000 and $2,000,000 as well as your deductible between $0 and $5,000. You set the level of coverage you want!

Student Zone

Online Claims Tracking

You have the ability to manage your plan online, such as updating personal details, payment information and much more. You can view and track your claims online, through the Student Zone. This allows you to see what has been processed and paid!

To learn more about the Atlas Travel plan, please visit: https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/travel-medical-insurance/

To enroll in our plans, you may do so right online or over the phone. Our insurance specialists will be happy to help you choose the right coverage and process your application the same day. You will receive your insurance documents right after the purchase which include your ID card and policy summary.

If you have any questions, please contact our team at: 

  • Toll Free in the US: (877) 758-4391
  • Direct: +1 (904) 758-4391
  • Email: info@internationalstudentinsurance.com 
  • Chat with Us

Compare plans fitting your coverage needs

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