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The Ins and Outs of Pre-existing Conditions

October 20th, 2017 by Yessica Prato

Pre-existing conditions

If you are an international student or traveler, we recommend that you have a health insurance plan in case there is an accident or you suffer an illness and need to seek medical attention. When it comes to choosing an insurance plan, there are many important aspects that you should consider while you travel abroad. One of these is coverage for pre-existing conditions…. but what exactly are pre-existing conditions? How do insurance companies determine what a pre-existing condition is? What type of coverage do you need for pre-existing conditions? We will help you learn more about this type of coverage and what to look out for!


Pre-existing Conditions 101

What are pre-existing conditions?

Pre-existing conditions are any illnesses, injuries, or other physical, medical, mental, or nervous conditions, disorder or ailment that existed prior to the start date of your insurance plan. These conditions may be known or unknown – this means that even if you didn’t have any symptoms or a medical diagnosis, and then the condition presented itself spontaneously, it could be considered a pre-existing condition.


How are pre-existing conditions determined?

Any illness or injury will be carefully evaluated by your primary care physician or the emergency room doctor. Your doctor will run a series of tests and lab work and he or she will determine the most accurate date as to when your illness or injury began. All of these lab exams and data will help your doctor create your medical records.

Medical records are the systematic documentation of a patient’s medical history and care. Once your treatment concludes, you or your provider will file a claim by sending your medical records along with your medical bills to the insurance company. Then, the insurance company will have a professional claim examiner review the information and they will determine if your condition will be covered under the benefits of your plan.

For example, let’s say that your coverage began on Monday. By Wednesday of the same week, your back began hurting. Instinctively, you went to the hospital because the pain was very intense. After many tests, the ER doctor concludes that you have kidney stones. Usually, kidney stones take approximately 3-4 months to form. This means that it would be considered a pre-existing condition for your plan since your coverage started only 2 days ago. Even if you didn’t feel any pain before, the kidney stones have been forming for 3-4 months already.


Coverage for pre-existing conditions

International health insurance plans are designed to cover new illnesses and injuries for shorter periods of time. The coverage for pre-existing conditions varies from plan to plan. Some plans cover pre-existing conditions from the start of your coverage, other plans cover these conditions after a waiting period, and other will only cover an acute onset of a pre-existing condition. It’s important to be aware of the type of coverage you think best fits your needs.


Coverage for an acute onset of a pre-existing condition

Certain insurance plans will only cover an acute onset of a pre-existing condition. This means it will cover medical expenses for a sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence of a pre-existing condition. Generally, the unexpected outbreak must occur spontaneously and without advance warning, is of short duration, and requires you to obtain treatment within 24 hours of the sudden outbreak of your pre-existing condition.

An acute onset of a pre-existing condition cannot be covered if it’s a condition that you need to control with medicine or that is gradually becoming worse over time.

Our Atlas Travel plan offers this type of coverage as it will cover up to $25,000 USD of your medical expenses for an acute onset of a pre-existing condition.


Coverage for pre-existing conditions after a waiting period

Some insurance plans offer coverage for certain pre-existing conditions after a waiting period since they might be designed for people that will travel outside of their home country for more than a year. For example, our Student Secure plan offers coverage for a pre-existing condition after a 12 month waiting period on the Budget level and after a 6 month waiting period on the Select and Elite levels. The plan can also be renewed for up to 4 years total.

Additionally, our Student Health Advantage plan will also give you coverage for pre-existing conditions after a 12 month waiting period on the Standard level and 6 month waiting period on the Platinum level. This plan can be renewed up to 5 years total.

In order to maintain the coverage for your pre-existing conditions, you will need to have the plan active for the total amount of the waiting period. You will also need to renew the plan if you choose to continue having this pre-existing condition coverage.


Coverage for pre-existing conditions from day 1

As we mentioned before, most travel and student insurance plans will only cover new illnesses and injuries. However, there are certain plans in the US that offer coverage for pre-existing conditions from the first day your coverage starts. Our Global Medical plan – Platinum level offers coverage for pre-existing conditions as soon as the policy starts as long as your application is approved. It’s a medically underwritten plan which means that there will be a series of medical questions and the application will be submitted for review to the insurance company. Another option would be ACA compliant plans, which are required by law to include coverage for pre-existing conditions. International students are exempt, for up to 5 years, from needing to purchase an ACA compliant plan. However if your school does provide an ACA compliant plan, it will include coverage for pre-existing conditions, typically from day 1.  


Because medical care is very expensive in the United States, before leaving your home country, we recommend:

  • Get a general check up – if there is an illness or injury that has not been discovered or you haven’t presented symptoms, it could be found and treated before you leave your home country. This also includes an eye exam and a dental check up.
  • Prescription medication – If you are currently being treated for a condition, it’s possible that your new insurance plan will not cover this medication as it’s for your pre-existing condition. Make sure to bring enough medicine with you while you fulfill any waiting periods for your plan.
  • Medical recordsMany people believe that the insurance company will not request medical records from their home country because they may be in another language or are not relevant to the current condition. This is incorrect; the insurance company will have access to your health records once you purchase a plan with them. In addition, they have official interpreters in different languages and have the ability to translate these records.


medical recordsHopefully this overview of pre-existing conditions addressed most of your questions and explained how these conditions are determined. Always remember to check your coverage and make sure you choose the most appropriate plan for your needs.

We recommend watching our video on the US healthcare system which shows a general summary of how healthcare works here and will give you tips on how to prepare before traveling to the US.

Insurance Carrier Ratings and Why They Matter

September 19th, 2017 by Leah Hammond

Travel Medical Insurance plan update
When purchasing a health insurance plan, there are many factors to consider. What does the plan cover? How much does it cost? Will it be accepted by your school? One thing that you may not think about when considering your options is the insurance rating of the carrier that is behind your insurance plan, and ultimately paying your medical bills. Why is this important, you ask? To put it simply, the rating of the insurance carrier shows the financial strength and stability of the company, and their ability to pay for eligible medical claims. The higher the rating, the more financially secure the insurance company is, compared to those that have lower ratings and are not as financially secure. To help with making your decision, we will explain insurance carrier ratings and why they matter, the different credit rating agencies, and the ratings of the plans we offer at International Student Insurance.  

Carrier Ratings – Why Do They Matter? 

The concept of insurance can be very complicated and finding the right plan may be an overwhelming task. When searching for a plan that suits your needs, you will want to make sure that the plan is underwritten by a carrier with a solid rating – typically we recommend an A rating or better. When purchasing an insurance plan, you are entering into a contract with the insurance carrier whereby you will pay the premium for the plan, and they agree to cover you in the event of an eligible claim. The question then arises – will the insurance carrier be capable of upholding this agreement? Does the company have the financial stability to pay claims as promised? To answer these questions and to feel confident that you’ve purchased the best plan, you will want to review different agency ratings to see how the insurance carrier is viewed in the insurance marketplace.

Credit Rating Agencies

Credit rating agencies play an important role in determining the strength and reliability of the insurance carrier. These agencies provide independent opinions of the creditworthiness of the carrier and their ability to pay policyholders’ claims. Each agency has their own rating scale and standards that are used to assist consumers like you in making the right decision to protect you in case of a medical emergency. The ratings of each carrier will vary from agency to agency so it is always a good idea to consider more than one agency’s ratings when choosing your insurance plan.

There are four major agencies that rate the financial strength of insurance carriers – Standard & Poor’s, A.M. Best Company, Fitch, and Moody’s. As mentioned, each agency uses a different rating scale, which is publicly available on their websites. The ratings are usually a combination of letters and plus (+) or minus (-) signs to indicate the variations in class. For example, Standard and Poor’s highest rate is AAA for Extremely Strong, while A.M. Best uses A++ for Superior as their highest rating. 

Differences in Credit Ratings

Depending on the credit rating agency, ratings can range from AAA+ to F. When considering a health insurance plan, we typically recommend using a company with an “A” rating or better. Companies with “A” ratings are generally considered to be the most financially stable and will have the ability to pay your eligible medical claims. An “A” rating is also important for the long-term dependability of the company – a better rating means that the company is less likely to fail in the future and go out of business. Keep in mind that it is best to stay away from companies with C or D ratings, as they are considered to be very weak and will not be reliable when it comes to paying for your eligible claims. Furthermore, F ratings mean failure or insolvency, which means the company is unable to pay for your claims.

International Student Insurance – Carrier Ratings

Finding the best health insurance plan is already time-consuming enough, so researching the plan’s carrier rating is probably the last thing on your mind. Luckily, the plans that we offer at International Student Insurance are underwritten by well-known carriers with high ratings.

The Student Secure and Atlas Travel Medical plans are underwritten by Lloyds of London. Lloyds is the largest and oldest insurance market in the world, with 325 years as the world’s leading market for specialist insurance. They are rated A (Excellent) by A.M Best. Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard and Poor’s.

The Student Health Advantage and Patriot Travel Medical plans are unwritten by Sirius International. Sirius offers financial security and a worldwide reputation and are rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company and A- (Strong) by Standard and Poor’s.

Knowing the carrier rating of your health insurance plan is an important part of choosing the best insurance plan. Some visa categories, like J1 and J2, even require you to meet certain standards for carrier ratings. Remember that there are many different insurance options available, so doing your research and asking questions will ensure that you choose a plan that will be able to cover you if a situation arises in the future.

The 2017 Travel Video Contest is Now Open!

September 6th, 2017 by Sutherland Beever

The Travel Video Contest on is back and ready to help even more international students reach their dreams!

To enter this year’s contest, all you need is a bit of ambition, the desire to travel or study abroad, some decent videotaping equipment, and the editing software of your choice.  Odds are, you already have been bitten by the travel bug and you may even have a smartphone in your pocket to film your project, so what are you waiting for? Oh, and did I mention that the Grand Prize winner gets $4,000?!? Yes, you read that right – $4,000!

Want to check out the other awesome prizes?

We like to keep things simple. Here’s what you really need to know: 

  • Your video needs to be high quality, of course, and can’t be more than 4 minutes long.
  • Current international students must make a video about a trip that you would like to take in the future.
  • Future international students need to make a video about the experiences and knowledge that you will gain as an international student.
  • Your video needs to stand out among the competition, so be sure to bring your voice and creativity to your submission.

This is one of those amazing opportunities where there really isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about your film, presuming you follow the short set of rules.  One of the best things about the Travel Video Contest is that the contest doesn’t have strict guidelines. Other than the length and subject matter of your video, so feel free to make your submission as serious or as goofy as you are.  You could choose to narrate your story through an original song – or a sock puppet named George. You are the director, the subject matter and the editor of your film, so all of the decisions are yours to make!

Need some tips and tricks to get filming?

Dates to Remember:

Submission Deadline – October 13th, 2017

Finalists Announced – the week of November 6th, 2017

Winners Announced – November 17th, 2017

One Last Thing:

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a collection of fancy video editing software or a professional camera at your disposal. Smart phones these days have crystal-clear images and there are tons of quality (and completely free) editing software out there. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Click here to get started.


How To File An Insurance Claim and What To Expect

August 15th, 2017 by Jennifer Frankel

Filing an Insurance Claim

If you have an international student insurance plan, then you will need to file an insurance claim with your carrier to either get reimbursed for expenses you paid upfront, or to make sure the provider gets paid. Like most private insurance plans, this is not done automatically, so there are a few steps you’ll want to make sure you follow to ensure that you have your claims processed without delay.

Step 1. Locate An In-Network Provider

Often times your insurance plan will have a list of doctors, hospital and clinics that are contracted directly with the insurance company. These providers have agreed to discounted rates and to accept payment directly from the insurance company (meaning that you would not have to pay the full cost upfront, but only your deductible and/or copay). Before going for treatment, check the provider search tool to see who is in-network. For many plans, your out-of-pocket costs in the US are often lower if you go inside the network. While coverage may be the same in-network or out-of-network outside the US, you can still take advantage of direct payment.

Tip: Many times the insurance plan will use a network that is already in existence. Because of this, it’s important that when calling a doctor’s office, you let them know the name of the network (i.e., First Health, United Healthcare, etc.) – not the name of the insurance plan. If you aren’t sure of your network, take a look at your ID card as the logo will appear right on the card.

Step 2. Present Your ID Card to the Provider

When seeking treatment at a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, they will not know that you have insurance unless you present your insurance ID card. If you don’t have it, be sure to call the provider after your visit and update their information with the details on your ID card. If you don’t do this, you will start receiving bills and the insurance company will have no idea that you have an ongoing claim.

Tip: When seeking treatment, we recommend that you ask for the receipts, invoices, medical records and any other documents they may have while at the provider’s office. The insurance company can ask for this while processing the claim, so getting them in advance will allow you to have them on hand if requested.

Step 3. Fill Out and Send In Your Claim Form

For most international insurance plans, you will need to file an insurance claim by ALWAYS filling out a claim form. A new claim form is typically required for every new condition you have when filing an insurance claim. For example, if you have a condition where you see the doctor five times for the same condition, you would just need to submit the claim form once. Likewise, if you visited a doctor for two separate conditions, you would need to submit two different claim forms.

Additionally, if treatment was due to an accident, some insurance companies may require you to complete and submit an Accident Form as well. Once you complete the form, be sure to email the documents to the carrier to process.

Important: Claims can only be submitted within a certain period of time, which will depend on your plan. Don’t wait to file a claim, fill out that claims form and submit the documentation as soon as you are able to.

Step 4. Submit Your Bills, Receipts, and Any Other Supporting Documentation

If you paid for anything up front, or if you are receiving bills from the doctor, clinic or hospital, be sure to submit them directly to the insurance company. To file an insurance claim, you will want to include:

  • Receipt for the payment of your deductible
  • Itemized bills or receipts (and they must be itemized! This is often referred to in the US as the HCFA or UB form)
  • Receipt for the payment of your treatment

For those of you who are students, you may also need to submit proof of student status including:

  • I-20
  • Visa
  • Passport

If you are in the United States, the insurance company will need the bills from the provider with the appropriate codes for the condition and treatment. This is often referred to as the HCFA or UB form. If the provider will be billing the insurance company directly, this is the form they typically submit. However, if you paid for the treatment upfront, be sure to ask for this at the time of treatment so that you can submit this to the insurance company.

Prescriptions – Prescriptions are often paid out of pocket at the pharmacy, and submitted for reimbursement. Depending on your plan, you have a prescription discount card that you can present to get a reduced rate. To submit a claim for a prescription, you will need to submit the office visit, prescription, the receipt for the prescription as well as the claims form to be reimbursed.

Step 5. Wait 30 Days, Then Follow Up

By law, the insurance company can only keep a claim open for a small window of time before they have to process it. This means that if they don’t have all the information, they are going to have to deny the claim (but don’t worry, once you submit the appropriate information, they’ll reopen the claim and process it). To avoid any delays, you can either log into your account to view the status, call the number on your ID card, or email the carrier for an update on your claim. Be sure to have the following information ready:

  • Insurance policy ID/certificate number
  • Name on the policy
  • Date of birth
  • Date of service (when you sought treatment)
  • Amount of the bill, if available

Step 6. Receive Explanation of Benefits With Processed Claim

Once a claim has been processed, an Explanation of Benefits (often referred to as an EOB) will be mailed to you by post. In the EOB it will state what was processed, what was and wasn’t covered, and the patient responsibility (the amount you are responsible for paying directly to the provider). If you need help understanding your EOB, check out this helpful guide or call the number on your insurance card for assistance.

If you are being reimbursed, then this will often be by check, however you can opt to receive a wire transfer payment instead. Check with your carrier directly if that would be your preferred method. These plans are in USD only, and a claim is typically processed within 30 business days.

For more information on how to file an insurance claim, please check with the carrier directly to see what and where to submit your documentation.

International Student Health Insurance for University of North Florida

July 28th, 2017 by Jacqueline Schultz


University of North Florida Insurance

Founded in 1969, The University of North Florida (UNF) is settled in Jacksonville, FL on 1,300 acres of land. While campus is minutes away from the beach, students have over 200 campus clubs they may choose to join and includes amenities like group fitness classes, a rock climbing wall, fine arts events, and much more. In addition, students have the option to take courses in a wide array of topics from business to education to athletic training!



Before you register for classes, the University of North Florida requires international students purchase health insurance. UNF gives international students the option to waive their schools health insurance by finding a comparable plan and submitting a waiver form found here. The university asks that you allow one week for the waiver to process and to turn it in advance. UNF requires that their students select a policy that:

  • Basic Benefits
    • 80/20 coinsurance & $100 maximum deductible
    • Inpatient & outpatient mental health coverage
    • Maternity coverage
    • Prescription medications
    • Medical evacuation/repatriation of remains
    • Pre-existing conditions coverage with 6 month waiting period maximum
    • Provides continuous coverage with no lapse in the policy


Insurance Plan Options

Our Student Secure plan is an excellent option for international students studying on a J-1 or F-1 visa for up to four years. When coming to a new country, it is vital to know your options and research the benefits of your health insurance plan. The Student Secure plan  provides two great options for students studying at UNF!

For international students between 18-24 years old for one year of coverage:

  • Select – $1,066.52 per year
  • Elite – $1,485.12 per year

*You do have the option of monthly payments under this plan for only an additional $5/month!


If you have any questions about which plan is best for you, please feel free to contact our office.


Updated July 17, 2017

School insurance plans or my own insurance – which is better?

July 14th, 2017 by Ross Mason

School insurance or my own insuranceWhen looking for insurance coverage as an international student in the USA, there are often a few options for you to consider. The three most common ones are outlined in our “School health insurance in the US” insurance explained article – but basically it boils down to a school mandated plan offered by your school, a school sponsored plan (also offered by your school), or the option to choose your own plan.

With a school mandated plan, you have no choice but to take your school’s insurance plan. It is often included in the cost of your tuition, and you are automatically enrolled into it when you start classes. With a school sponsored insurance plan, your school might allow you to purchase your own insurance coverage, but that plan will often need to meet certain benefit levels before it will be accepted. This is known as a waiver or compliance form. With the third option, you have freedom to choose any insurance plan, and sometimes that plan will need to meet certain levels of coverage.

When you do have the option to purchase your own coverage, you will need to ask yourself, “What is the better option for me?”, and with this blog post we will outline some of your main considerations.

Benefit Differences

School insurance plans vary, but one thing is for sure, you have no control of the type of plan they offer and the plan benefits. You will also not be able to change, adjust or pick a better plan that is more suited to your needs. In most cases, schools will always try to offer the best coverage possible, however when you have high benefit plans (some that could be ACA compliant) this often leads to higher premiums, and sometimes higher out of pocket expenses. You also have to consider that there could be benefits and limitations within the policy that do not meet your needs. Again, you have no control over this.

With purchasing your own insurance plan, your school might define some benefits your plan will need to include, but aside from that, you should have the choice to find a solution that works for you. There are a number of different options and providers that can offer a range of benefits and lower or no deductibles to suit your needs. In short you will have choice and control to find a plan that works for you, and includes the benefits you want.

Plan Pricing

The cost of your school insurance versus your own insurance plan will probably be a leading factor in whether you opt for one option or another. The cost of school insurance plans keeps going up, especially if you school plan is an ACA compliant plan. While the benefits might be more comprehensive, that has also meant that prices need to rise accordingly to compensate for these plans with better benefits. Some school plans are now costing up to $2,500 per school year or more.

If you purchase a plan on your own, you have the control to find a plan that fits inside your budget. Individual insurance plans that you purchase on your own can be as low as $300 or $400 per school year for the more basic levels of coverage, and then move up from there. This allows you to find a plan that works for your budget and benefit requirements. It may require a little bit of research to make sure the plan is going to work for you, and you are aware of all the benefits and limitations – but it can be a great way to save money!

Personal Situation

While benefits and pricing are a good reason to look at other insurance options, you also have to look at your own personal situation. For example, if you have an existing medical condition, many of the options that you can purchase on your own will not include coverage immediately for that medical condition – they will often have a waiting period before they will cover those benefits. If your school insurance plan is an ACA compliant plan, then these benefits will be covered immediately with no waiting period. So although you might save money with another option, your school’s insurance plan will provide you with the coverage you need.

Another good example is if you are bringing over any family members with you, such as your wife/husband and children (otherwise known as your dependents). Some school plans will not allow you to insure your dependents on their plan, others will. If your school does not allow dependents, then you will need to search out options just for them, which sometimes can be hard to find if you (the primary student) is not insured on the same plan. You will either all need to look for a plan together, or just insure your wife and children on a separate dependent plan.

As you can see, your personal situation might actually drive you towards one plan option or another, and might not actually give you a huge amount of flexibility, even if you did want to choose one option over the other based on benefits or price!

What option is best?

At the end of the day, you will need to weigh your personal situation with the benefits and pricing of school or individual insurance plans to find the right balance. If you are looking to save money, purchasing your own insurance plan is often the best way forward as you have the ability to shop around for the plan that fits in with your needs and budget. However, as outlined above, there could be factors stopping you from doing that such as an existing medical condition or if you are bringing family members with you.

The choice is a personal one, but hopefully this has provided you with some direction and advice on how to proceed. If you do have any questions, please let us know or post comments below.

How to Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment in the US

June 15th, 2017 by Bryanna Davis

You woke up with a sore throat, you can’t seem to pull yourself out of bed and your head is pounding. Although you have a busy day of classes ahead of you, it’s starting to happen: you’re getting sick. Luckily, you purchased health insurance coverage before you even arrived in the US, which means you can visit the doctor and feel better in no time. However, visiting the doctor in a new country is easier said than done. If you’re not sure how to schedule a doctor’s appointment in the US, or how to even find a doctor, following these steps can help simplify the process:

1. Know what plan you have. It might sound basic, but the very first step is to know what plan you have. Gather your insurance policy documents and insurance ID card as these will state the name of the insurance plan, the insurance carrier, and your insurance ID number. Insurance policy documents are often emailed, so if you didn’t print your documents upon purchase or request to receive them through mail, checking your email inbox for this information is a good place to start.

2. Verify your coverage. After you have gathered your plan documents, if you’re not sure what’s covered on your plan- now is the time to check. You can do this by calling the insurance company directly. When calling the insurance company make sure you reference your insurance ID number on your policy documents.

3. Find a doctor. If your plan uses a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) then you will have a list of “in-network” providers to choose from. This list will include hospitals, urgent care clinics, specialists and family doctors, and can typically be found by visiting the insurance company’s website or your insurance agent’s website directly.

Before you can find a doctor and make an appointment, you must first know what type of provider is appropriate for your situation. Inside the United States minor illnesses and injuries are taken care of by scheduling a doctor’s appointment or by visiting a walk-in clinic. The emergency room is only utilized in instances of a true emergency, and will often include an additional fee.

HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans require that you have one primary care physician that you visit. Unless it’s an emergency, this physician will need to issue you a referral if additional treatment is needed.

Additional tip: If you have purchased the Student Health plan or the Travel Medical plan you can find the in-network provider list here. If you purchased the Student Health Advantage plan, the Patriot Travel plan, or the Global Medical plan you can find an in-network provider here.

4. Schedule your appointment. The next step is to call the doctor directly and schedule your appointment. If your plan uses a PPO, when calling the provider, it’s important to let them know what network your plan is a part of. For example, if you have the Student Health plan you will want to tell the office that your plan is a part of the First Health Provider Network. The name of the network your plan uses can be found within your plan documents or on your insurance ID card.

Additional tip: The name of your health insurance plan is not the same as the provider network. Keep in mind that you will need to know the specific network when scheduling your appointment.

5. Attend your appointment. Make sure you print and bring your insurance ID card with you to your doctor’s appointment. When you arrive at the provider’s office show them your insurance ID card when checking in.

Depending on your plan, you may need to pre-authorize treatment with the insurance company in certain instances, like surgery. This can be done at the time of verifying your coverage, or you can ask your provider to pre-authorize coverage prior to the procedure during your visit.

6. File a claim. The claim process can vary from one health insurance plan to the next. However, you can find a good guide to help you through the process of submitting an insurance claim here.

The US Healthcare Video now available in Spanish

June 1st, 2017 by Juncal Caballero

At International Student Insurance, we are interested in informing and getting you ready before your trip; therefore, we are always coming up with new resources to make the adjustment and understanding process of the new culture easier for you.

For us, it is important to extend these resources and provide them in your native language. That is why we are happy to announce that the US Healthcare Video is now available in Spanish.  It includes an overview of how the health system works in the United States and some tips to help you plan your trip better.

The Healthcare System in the United States may seem confusing, but in just 7 minutes you will get a quick overview of how it works and get you ready to start your experience in the United States.

If you would like to show this short 7 minute video to your incoming international students at their orientation, or you would like to include the video on your website – please contact us as we would be happy to provide you with the embedding code.


The Pros and Cons of Buying a Travel Medical Insurance from your Home Country

May 15th, 2017 by Sutherland Beever

While planning a trip abroad there are a wide variety of things to consider: what hotels align best with your budget, how many shoes you can fit in your carry on – and of course, selecting a health insurance plan to help cover any unexpected medical bills you incur while traveling. Wait, that wasn’t on your to-do list?

Don’t worry, we understand that choosing a health insurance policy for your travels is nowhere remotely as interesting as Googling pictures of your travel destination, but it could end up saving you a great deal of time, hassle, and perhaps most importantly, money.  

Here are your options:

Option One: Buy a plan from your home country

Option Two: Buy a plan from the country that you’ll be visiting

Odds are, there are countless travel insurance policies offered in your home country and even more offered in the country you’re visiting, so weighing the pros and cons will help you make the best possible decision.

The Pros of Purchasing a Plan from your Home Country: 

For most of us, this seems like the most comfortable and convenient option for a few different reasons. Firstly, the plan is from your home country, so the policy wording (which is a fancy way of saying the fine print), benefits and assist services will be more familiar to you.  Secondly, the assist services will likely be in your native language, so you won’t have to worry about requesting an interpreter when you have questions about claims or seeking treatment, which can be a plus.

The Cons:  

Even though a policy purchased from your home country will likely be more familiar to you, it will not be familiar to healthcare providers in the country where you will actually need to use the insurance. This means that it’s unlikely that hospitals or doctor’s offices will accept your coverage and you will need to pay out of pocket and seek reimbursement for any medical bills that you may incur.

This isn’t the end of the world, of course, but it can be a pain point, especially if you had intended on using your cash for more enjoyable activities (remember that long list of fun activities you have planned?). Given that your policy is foreign, it will likely be hard to find in-network providers, meaning hospitals, urgent care centers and doctor’s offices that will accept your plan without forcing you to pay out of pocket.

In case you are traveling to the US, it’s important to know how strong your network is, making sure that you can find a doctor, hospital, or clinic when you need it. This is especially important as the US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, and to confront those costs, insurance companies negotiate significant discounts on the prices they charge.

If you choose to visit an urgent care center or walk-in clinic in the United States either without health insurance altogether or outside of the provider network that your plan works with, not only will you end up paying a much higher cost for the same medical treatment as someone who has insurance or is in-network, but you will also likely have to pay upfront.

To Wrap Things Up:

Whether you are traveling for leisure or work, the last thing that you want to be hassling with on your trip is your health insurance policy, right? Regardless of the company that you choose to purchase the plan from, save yourself some headache and start researching your options early! At the end of the day, the decision is yours but take it from the experts and purchase a travel medical plan from your destination versus your home country.

You’ll thank us later.

I’m Scared to Talk About My Mental Health Issues, What Can I Do?

April 17th, 2017 by Yessica Prato

Travel Medical Insurance plan updateImagine waking up one day and not knowing why you feel tired even after a good night sleep. Suddenly, simple tasks like showering, getting ready for classes, or leaving your room seem to require an incredible amount of strength. This could be signs of a mental health condition. As an international student, many factors can affect your mental health. Not only are you exposed to a completely different culture and you are far away from home, but you also have to be mindful of your studies.

In the United States, mental health conditions have become an important health issue for society.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults in the US experiences mental health illnesses. Unfortunately, in many other countries, mental health is very much tabooed and professional help may be limited. In some countries, seeking mental health assistance means embarrassing your family or even breaking up your personal relationships. 

If you are scared to talk about your mental health issues, it is important to know that you are not alone in this journey. Mental health conditions are real ailments. There are many resources out there to assists you and treat any mental health illnesses. With this article we have 4 tips to help you prepare for the mental health conversation and what will come next.


Do some research

Ask yourself, “how am I feeling today?”. It may sound silly, but this question can give you an overview on your mental health. If you notice changes in your everyday routine like lack of sleep, loss of appetite, or loss of interest on things you loved to do before, it is time to have an honest conversation about your mental health. Read about mental health and familiarize yourself with terms like depression, anxiety, and cultural shock. Don’t try to self-diagnose, instead do try to educate yourself about mental health. This will make the next step easier.


Find a person you trust

Mental illness can be a hard subject to approach for anyone. Nevertheless, sharing how you feel is a great step in the right direction. This will help you feel like some of the weight is lifted off your shoulders. Choose a family member, friend, or counselor and tell them how you feel privately. Remember, school counseling services are safe places, and anything you tell a counselor is private and protected by privacy laws in the United States.


Check your campus resources

Many schools in the US offer counselling services for their students, and they are often free or offered at a low-cost. This is a great place to start if you don’t know where to go or who to contact. You can also go to your student health center and talk to a primary care physician about how you are feeling. They can recommend places off campus like psychologists or psychiatrists offices that could aid you during this time.


You are not alone!

As lonely as you may be feeling, it’s important to remember that a lot of students struggle during college. With the stress of classes and being away from home, it is okay not to feel well. Therefore, you will have to advocate for yourself because only you know how you feel. There are many resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can contact them at 1.800.2738255 and you can remain anonymous and talk to someone completely for free. In addition, you can join support groups on campus to help you with the difficulties of being in a different country.


The key here is to not give up on yourself. There are many people willing to help you and resources that you can use privately. Regardless of whether you have a mental health or substance use condition, you can overcome these issues and be successful in school. If you’d like to learn more about mental health, please visit our insurance explained section on mental health.

Our Insurance Plans

We offer a range of international health and travel insurance plans for both students and non-students including:

Student Secure

International Student Health Insurance for full time students around the world.
Student Health Insurance

Atlas Travel

International Travel Medical Insurance for anyone outside of their home country.
Travel Medical Insurance

Global Medical

International Major Medical Insurance for those needing long term coverage.
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