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Why you Need an International Student Insurance Plan you can Renew

February 23rd, 2016 by Bryanna Davis

If you’re like many other international students who come to the US to study, you’ll be pursuing your degree for a few years. In turn, this also means you will need a health insurance plan that you can keep during that time. While it might initially seem like a good idea to purchase a health insurance plan for a few months or maybe just one year to “test it out,” this can cause a few problems down the line- especially if you have a condition that develops while on your plan- or if you come to the United States with a pre-existing condition.

Before we go into why this could cause a few problems, first, it’s key to understand what a pre-existing condition is. A pre-existing condition is defined differently by each insurance company, and the look back period (a specific time period prior to having the insurance plan) can vary depending on the plan. Be sure to check your insurance plan, but generally the definition may include some form of the following:

“Any injury or illness which, within the 365 days prior to the effective date of coverage, manifested itself, exhibited symptoms, or required medical treatment or medication, or for which a physician was consulted.”

Many short term plans will not cover pre-existing conditions, and if they do, they might have a waiting period (period in which you must be on the plan before you’re able to have coverage for a specific condition) or look back period (like the example above). So although taking the risk of having your health insurance plan terminate after the first year might not seem like a big deal, it can be if you have a medical condition that you need continuing treatment for.

Pre-Existing Condition Example

To explain this, here is a common scenario: Let’s say you purchase a plan that has a six-month waiting period before pre-existing conditions are covered, and that the plan cannot be renewed beyond one year. You, however, decide to purchase the plan for one year, as you  can still purchase a new plan after one year if you need further coverage.

Here are two potential outcomes that could cause you to worry:

You Develop A Condition While on your Plan:

In the hustle and bustle of studying in a new country, the year quickly goes by and your insurance plan ends. This wouldn’t be a problem had you not used the plan, but last week you discovered you have asthma- and now you need to go to the doctor a multiple times over the next few months. Since your plan has ended you will need to buy a new insurance, and your asthma will now be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered within the first six months. This means that your doctor appointments, medication, and any labs  for your asthma will not be covered, and you will need to pay for them out of pocket. On the contrary, if you had purchased a plan that was renewable, you could have simply renewed your plan for an additional year and your asthma condition would continue to be covered.

Since accidents do happen, it’s important to ensure that the plan you purchase is able to be extended and renewed for the entire time you will be in the US so you don’t risk running into this situation.

You Need Coverage for a Condition you had Prior to the Plan Starting:

As mentioned previously, if you have a medical condition before your plan begins it will be considered a pre-existing condition. This means that your plan must include coverage for pre-existing conditions (and the condition you need treatment for) in order for that condition to be covered. For example, if you come to the US with epilepsy and purchase a plan with a six month waiting period for pre-existing conditions, it will be a six month wait before that condition will be covered. After that six month period you would then be able to have coverage for your pre-existing condition. However, if your plan does not allow you to renew, you would then need to buy a new plan and go through the waiting period again.

If you would like an international student health insurance plan that can be renewed for up to four years check out the Student Secure plan.

Additionally, keep in mind that if you’ve had an alternative plan in the past without a condition arising then buying a new plan is perfectly fine and you won’t have to worry about pre-existing condition coverage at all!

If you need coverage for a pre-existing condition right away you might want to consider looking into whether you’re eligible for an ACA-compliant plan. However, keep in mind that ACA compliant plans will not provide you with certain benefits that international students and scholars need like emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.

New Provider Network in 2016

January 21st, 2016 by Ross Mason

First Health NetworkEffective 1st January 2016, the provider network for our main Student Health and Travel Medical insurance plans will be changing to the First Health Network. This is a welcomed move, as the First Health Network provides a much wider choice and greatly improves your access to participating providers.

Download New ID Card

You should have already received an email letting you know about this change, but just to remind you as part of the change, you will need to discard your current insurance ID card and log into the Student Zone to download your new ID card with the new network logo:


Benefits of the First Health Network

Through the network, you will now have access to: ​

  • More than 5,000 hospitals
  • Over 90,000 ancillary facilities
  • Over 1 million health care professional service locations
  • Over 98% of the U.S. population has access to a provider in our network
  • Improved search functionality with a fully mobile-optimized search

The new link to search for providers is:
(The link in your student zone has also been automatically updated)

Thank you for your understanding and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Terrorism Coverage Explained

December 22nd, 2015 by Sutherland Beever

terrorismWith the recent attacks in Paris, the topic of terrorism has quickly transitioned from the back burner of national news to the front page of newspapers worldwide. While the rest of the world has turned its focus to the perpetrators and the healing process following this malicious act, our team at International Student Insurance wants to make sure you are safe and covered no matter where your travels take you. In today’s blog, we are going to discuss the terrorism benefit on many travel plans including what it covers and how travel warnings affect coverage.

Terrorism Coverage 101

Generally speaking, terrorism coverage is a benefit included in many international travel insurance plans, providing protection in the event of an unforeseen terrorist attack. The terrorism benefit is designed to pay for injuries and illnesses that result from acts of terrorism, including necessary hospitalizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, and other medical treatment required for ongoing care.

In order to file a claim under the terrorism benefit, several conditions must be met. To find these conditions, it’s important to turn to your Description of Coverage, or Certificate, to see how it’s defined on your insurance plan. As an example, points 1-4 below are taken from the Atlas Travel plan’s 2015 Description of Coverage.

In order to qualify for terrorism coverage on the Atlas Travel plan, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The Injury or Illness does not result from the use of any biological, chemical, radioactive or nuclear agent, material, device or weapon; and
  2. The Member has no direct or indirect involvement in the Act of Terrorism; and
  3. The Act of Terrorism is not in a country or location where the United States government has issued a travel warning that has been in effect within the 6 months immediately prior to the Member’s date of arrival; and
  4. The Member has not failed to depart a country or location within 10 days following the date a warning to leave that country or location is issued by the United States government.

The majority of these points may seem quite straightforward – you won’t be covered in the event of a nuclear war and you can’t be personally involved in the terrorist attack.  But what about points 3 and 4? If you are wondering if you’ll be eligible for the terrorism benefit, you will need to review the plan wording closely. Oftentimes the terrorism benefit is removed if a travel warning has been in place as early as 6 months before your date of departure.

To determine if this will affect you, you will need to know what travel warnings are and how you can find out if there is a travel warning in your destination country.

Travel Warnings 101

Travel warnings in the US are issued by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs to warn travelers about the risks of traveling to certain areas where there is unrest or explicit danger to travelers. These travel warnings remain in place until the situation improves, and depending on the country, some of these warning have been in effect for many years. These travel advisories can be issued for a variety of reasons, including ongoing and intense crimes, violence, unstable governments, terrorist attacks, or civil war. Here’s how travel warnings can affect your benefits:

What if there is a travel warning before I arrive?
Your international insurance company monitors travel warnings, and in many cases, once a travel warning has been issued within the past 6 months of your plan’s effective date, the terrorism benefit will be considered null and void.

What if there is a travel warning and I’m already in my destination country?
In the unforeseen event that a travel warning is issued for your current location after you’ve arrived, your insurance plans will still provide terrorism coverage unless you unreasonably fail or refuse to follow the travel warning issued. If you choose to voluntarily stay in that given area, it’s likely that the terrorism benefit will be removed.

If you are unsure about your coverage, be sure to review your policy wording or contact your insurance carrier to verify how coverage may be affected.

Where Can I Find Travel Warnings?

It’s important to keep up to date with the travel warnings well before your flight leaves and throughout your trip to ensure that your safe. While local and national media channels are a great way to keep up with the local news, one of the best ways to keep up is to enroll in the STEP program through the Department of State. This free service allows US citizens and nationals to get important up to date information on safety concerns by local Consulates and Embassies.

In the event that an act of terrorism has occurred, your insurance company will typically reach out to you directly or post relevant information on the attack on their company website, or other online portal, such as a Student Zone.

Terrorism coverage can be seen as an additional and unnecessary benefit hidden near the bottom of a table of benefits – but just as Paris didn’t see an attack coming, terrorism is rarely predictable.  If you have any questions about how a terrorist attack could affect your travel insurance plan or if you are looking to purchase a plan with terrorism coverage, contact a licensed health insurance agent for help.

2015 InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest Winners!

November 23rd, 2015 by Sutherland Beever

contest winnerIt was a very close call, but after much deliberation the winners of the 2015 InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest have been announced!

With so many fantastic submissions from both current and aspiring international students from around the globe, the Contests 10th anniversary was an overwhelming success. After narrowing the competition down to just 14 Finalists, an elite team of judges ranked each video based on its originality, creativity, and overall quality to choose the Contest winners.

Now what were these students competing for, you may ask? Besides world-wide fame of course, InternationalStudent.com provides nearly $6,000 in prizes and  the overall winner also receives their own blog  to document their international adventures.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! 

A big round of applause and a huge congratulations to Amar Chaniago, the first place winner of the 2015 Travel Video Contest! His submission, “My Second Chance at Life” tells the inspiring story of a young student whose life was changed forever by an automobile accident. Instead of losing faith he chose to make the most out of his second chance at life and spend a large portion of his time traveling the world. Along with his well earned $4,000 prize, Amar will also be given his very own blog on InternationalStudent.com to document his travels, thoughts and experiences abroad.  

Bringing home the second place prize of $500 is Michelle Leclercq for her inspiring video, “Place Yourself Where You Want to Be.” Bravely choosing to leave her home country behind in pursuit of her true passion, Michelle toured the United States with little more than an acoustic guitar, soaking in the sights and sounds of an unfamiliar culture.

The third place winner and a big congratulation goes to Léa Kriger-Bécourt for her video “The Missing Piece.”  As one of the more creative submissions of this year’s Contest, Léa’s video was comprised of hand-drawn pictures on a jigsaw puzzle, perfectly illustrating her interests, goals, and future endeavors. Her appropriately titled film has won Léa a prize of $250!

Last but certainly not least is the Viewer’s Choice award winner, Murtaza Ibrahimi. Earning $1,000 to put towards his education, “Flowers of Success” tells a story of passion and pure dedication to the country of Afghanistan. This year’s fan favorite, Murtaza hopes to better the lives of his fellow citizens through the power of music and continues to work diligently to improve his own life and the life of those around him.

We would like to wish a big thank you to everyone who participated in our Contest, and to each of the winners!  Remember the Contest will be back next year, so keep a look out on InternationalStudent.com for next year’s Contest details and deadlines.

Understanding Your Explanation of Benefits (EOB)

November 16th, 2015 by Ross Mason

Understanding your EOBWhen a claim has been processed by your insurance company, you will most likely receive an explanation of benefits – or for short an EOB. This document will outline to you what charges were received and reviewed by your insurance company, and what action was taken. In most cases the EOB will list out all those charges that were received, what they were for, what was paid or denied and the reasons behind those actions.

Like many international students, and even seasoned professionals like ourselves, EOB’s can sometimes be a little tricky to understand at first glance. However nearly in every case, it takes just a few minutes to read the EOB more carefully, and to look out for certain items – and the EOB is no longer as confusing!

This blog post is designed to guide you through the EOB maze, so you know what to look out for and how to read them.

How do I receive my EOB?

The method in which your EOB is delivered to you will vary from one insurance company to another. However, you will want to try and make sure these are delivered electronically – either through an online portal or via email. This will be the quickest and simplest method, because if you are only abroad for a few months and the EOB is mailed to you – in many cases you might not even receive it. So its pretty important to make sure your insurance company can email or deliver your EOB electronically. If they can’t do that, make sure you update your address on file. If you do not receive your insurance EOB’s, and they are informing you to complete a claim form and that is not received, the claim will be closed and you will have to pay all those expenses.

What does an EOB look like?

EOB’s vary in their format from insurer-to-insurer, but in most cases they include very similar information just in a different format. When you purchase one of our main Student Health or Travel Medical insurance plans, your EOB’s will be available electronically through MESA in your Student Zone and they will look like this:

Understanding an EOB

Important EOB Sections

There are a number of line items and sections to most EOB’s, in the example above the main items you need to look for – and pay attention to are:

List of Services

In this section, you should see a list of all services that were provided and billed to your insurance company, along with full details about what expenses were not covered, those that were discounted, those that were applied to deductibles or coinsurance and then finally any amount that was paid out. It is important to note here that often times one trip to the hospital might have multiple charges from the actual hospital, from the attending doctor, etc… so do not be concerned with many line items listed here.

Service Code

The service code highlights the services that were performed, providing you with more description about the actual work that service relates to. In some cases, EOB’s might have a listing of number and codes on the back of the EOB for you to look up. In our example, the EOB lists this on the front of the document.

Reason Code

The reason code is a very important section to look for, as this highlights how the claim has been processed. For example if the claim was denied then it would be listed here in the reason code, likewise if the claim has not been paid because the claims team need a completed claim form – this will also be listed here.

Patient Responsibility

This section will show what you still need to pay the medical provider. It is important to note that even though your claim has been approved and accepted, you could still have a patient responsibility that you owe to the provider that treated you, such as a deductible or coinsurance. A patient responsibility does not necessarily mean your claim has been denied, so it is very important to cross reference this with reason code to check on how the claim was processed.

Payment Details

This very simply outlines what has been paid and to whom.

Of course, if you have any questions about Understanding Your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) through one of our plans – please do not hesitate to contact our team who will be happy to help you understand how your claims were processed!

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation: Why It Matters

October 29th, 2015 by Jennifer Frankel

medical evacuationIt’s 2 in the morning, and you can’t breathe! You are rushed to the hospital, and they need to send you to another city to get medical treatment. What do you do? In an emergency situation like this, it’s important that you pre-plan and have an insurance plan that will cover you in case the care you need is not available locally. This benefit is typically referred to as emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Every international student and scholar – along with their dependents – should have a plan that covers this. In today’s blog, we will talk about what these benefits are, why you need it, and how you can find an insurance plan with these benefits.

What is Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains?

Both medical evacuation and repatriation are designed to cover the transportation costs of a major emergency or death, and are typically coordinated by the insurance company.

Emergency medical evacuation transports you to the nearest facility equipped to handle treatment. This could mean another city, country, or even your home country. The facility where you would be transported is generally based on your overseeing doctor, and they work in collaboration with the insurance company to make sure you receive the care you need.

Repatriation of remains, also referred to on some insurance plans as Return of Mortal Remains, will transport the body back to the home country in case of death. Like medical evacuation, the insurance company typically coordinates the transportation behind the scenes.

These benefits are typically included in international plans and are not generally included on local domestic plans, but you never know! The only way to be sure is to check your policy certificate to see whether these benefits are included.

Why Do I Need This?

If you will be studying outside your home country, it’s very important to have these two benefits in place just in case you need care elsewhere. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It’s expensive. The average cost of a medical evacuation will depend on the type of treatment needed, accommodations to keep the person stable, and where they are being transported to and from. According to Travelex, the average medical evacuation can cost upwards of $25,000 and repatriation of remains can cost upwards of $11,000.
  • Help with coordination. If someone is gravely sick or injured, they are not going to be able to coordinate their own transportation! Having an insurance plan that covers this means that they will also help coordinate the transportation. The insurance company not only works with all parties involved, but they usually have a case manager with expertise on handling the logistics to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
  • Loved ones. There is nothing more difficult than having a family or friend who has a major medical issue, and there is no one there to help. Having an insurance plan with these benefits means that their loved ones can rest assured that the sick is being taken care of, and the insurance company will provide them updates on the status as the evacuation progresses.

Your Insurance Plan

Your Insurance Requirements
Because of the importance of medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, there are many requirements mandating this type of coverage. J1 visa holders and their dependents are required to have at least $25,000 for repatriation of remains and $50,000 for medical evacuation according to the Department of State. While F and M visa holders are not mandated to have insurance by the Department of State, the school will typically require students to have a certain level of coverage, often times requiring students to have coverage for both.

How To Comply
As an international student or scholar, you are more than likely required to have emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage during the entire time you are in the US. If you have a dependent with you, they are likely required to have it as well. There are two ways to get coverage with these benefits:

1. Your health insurance includes medical evacuation/repatriation – If you have an international health insurance plan, you are more than likely going to have a plan which includes this coverage. Be sure to call your insurance company or check your policy certificate to verify that you 1) have insurance for these two benefits (they are usually listed separately) and 2) have sufficient coverage to meet the requirements listed by the Department of State or your school. If you have dependents with you, make sure they are covered as well! Some group plans do not cover dependents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. If you or your dependents don’t have an insurance plan in place, you can purchase an individual plan that will include these benefits. >>Learn about the Student Secure plan (for students) and the Travel Medical (for dependents).

2. Your health insurance does not have medical evacuation/repatriation – If you have a domestic plan, chances are that your plan does not include coverage for medical evacuation or repatriation, since it was not designed with international students in mind. If you or your dependents have an Affordable Care Act compliant plan, for example, then it’s unlikely that it will cover these two benefits. If that’s the case, there are standalone plans that can be purchased with those two benefits – and the coverage will also meet the J visa requirements! >> Learn more about the Medical Evac plan to buy a standalone plan.

Studying and Traveling in the USA, as a US Citizen!

October 8th, 2015 by Sally Mcleod

There are over 8.7 million non-military U.S. citizens currently living abroad, and each year, thousands of them come to the US to travel, study or live. For this group of American passport holders living outside of the United States, getting international health insurance when coming to the United States can prove to be surprisingly difficult.

Eligibility for international insurance policies typically hinges on the concept of “home country,” which is distinct from your country of citizenship.  Your “home country” is the country in which you have your “true, fixed and permanent home” – so for people not living internationally, their home country is the same as their country of citizenship. But a US citizen with their permanent home and fixed address in Paris, France would be considered their “home country.”  International health insurance policies will generally provide coverage outside of your “home country.”

So far, so good, you say – as the US citizen living in Paris, who wants insurance for a study abroad in the US, needs coverage while studying outside of their “home country.” True enough – but there is a special rule for US citizens. Most international policies – including our Student Secure and Atlas Travel policies – will also exclude the US for any US citizen, in addition to their home country. US citizens are not considered internationals when coming to the United States regardless of the location of their permanent home, and even if you’ve never lived in the US.

This creates a predicament for US citizens living abroad that want to study or travel in the US, as a student in this situation would not be eligible to purchase most international plans. Even though a US citizen in this case would be a stranger in the US, they would need to apply for domestic insurance, the same as if they had lived in the US all their lives.  They can still get insurance, they just won’t qualify for the often better plans, cheaper rates and internationally tailored plans available to non-US citizens. A student in this instance could possibly enroll in their school plan, and if the duration of the stay was long enough, even potentially apply for ACA coverage through the appropriate state exchange.

There are however, a few plan options available that can be considered. One unique option that we offer would be the Bupa Travel plan. While we said most international travel plans do not cover US Citizens in the USA, this plan is one of the exceptions and allows a US citizen to have coverage inside the US, if their home country is elsewhere. A single trip can be purchased up to 12 months in length, but be advised that this special benefit comes at a price. The Bupa Travel plan is a little on the high side in terms of price, but if you are looking for short term travel coverage – one of the best solutions.

Away from travel plans, another option (less than one year), could be a short term domestic health insurance plan. Short term health insurance is not ACA compliant, so you should investigate whether or not, as a US citizen temporarily in the US, you are required to have ACA coverage, and we can help you with that analysis. These plans differ in duration and availability dependent on the state where coverage is needed, so please check all the details to make sure the plan is right for you.

Another option is a worldwide major medical plan, like our Global Medical Plan. The Global Medical plan offers worldwide coverage and is an annual, more long-term, comprehensive plan. This plan can prove as an excellent option for expats and those that travel to multiple destinations, including their home country. For United States citizens, you must be outside the US when the plan becomes effective, and you must reside outside of the U.S. for at least 6 out the next 12 months.

There’s a different rule for non-U.S. citizens needing coverage in their country of citizenship. In that case, you can have coverage on an international plan in your country of citizenship, as long as your home country is elsewhere. One example would be for someone with Brazilian citizenship whose home country is Germany, who needs coverage while studying abroad in Brazil. The Student Secure plan or the Atlas Travel plan would work well in this situation as long as the student identifies Germany as their home country, and Brazil as their country of citizenship.

It can get a bit confusing, so if you have questions while trying to figure out whether you are eligible for one of our international plans while studying abroad in the US or elsewhere, please feel free to call, email or chat.

Announcing the 10th Annual Travel Video Contest

September 2nd, 2015 by Sutherland Beever

What could you do with an extra $4,000?

If you love traveling, the thrill of a new challenge, and the opportunity to win
a cash prize to help fund your education, we have the perfect contest for you. The 10th anniversary of the InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest has just launched, and they can’t wait to hear your stories as a current or aspiring international student!

The rules are simple: current international students are encouraged to create a short video describing a trip they would like to take in the future, and students who have yet to study outside of their home country should create a video describing their proposed study abroad trip. The more creative, original and genuine your submission, the more likely their panel of esteemed judges will be to choose your video as the grand prize winner!

Tips for Getting Started:

  1. Know Your Competition – Before filming your own masterpiece, take the opportunity to watch a handful of videos that have stolen our judge’s hearts in the past. This will give you an instant ‘leg up’ on the competition, and provide you with an idea of the quality and style of videos that your own creation will compete against.
  2. Think Outside of the Box – Other than the overall subject of your video, InternationalStudent.com is giving you the creative freedom to make your video as funny, serious, or completely outlandish as you are. Your submission could be a traditional live action flick, a kid friendly cartoon or even a black and white claymation flick; the sky is the limit!
  3. The Early Bird Gets the Worm … So Start Early – The deadline to submit your video (October 22nd) may seem light-years away, but remember that all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes (creating a script, shooting, choosing music and editing your film) takes time.
  4. Read the Contest Rules – This may sound a bit obvious, but ensuring that you follow the contest guidelines is one of the first steps towards bringing home that grand prize!

To help inspire you to create the best video possible, remember that the Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of $4,000 and a blog on InternationalStudent.com to document their travels. Additionally, the Viewer’s Choice winner as well as the runner ups will all receive a cash price to help make their dreams of studying abroad become a reality.

Important Dates to Remember:

  • Final Submission Deadline: October 22, 2015
  • Finalists Announced: Week of November 10, 2015
  • Winners Announced: November 20, 2015 – the last day of International Education Week

If you would like more information on the contest rules, judging panel, or past winners be sure to visit InternationalStudent.com for all of the details.

How much international insurance coverage is enough?

August 11th, 2015 by Victoria Troupe


It makes good sense to purchase international insurance coverage if you are traveling or studying in a different country. It may even be required for your visa or through your school. But how much international insurance coverage do you really need? Is the minimum insurance required good enough to cover an unforeseen injury or illness? Although it is hard to know exactly how much coverage you are going to need, you can get a better idea by knowing what your visa requires, how expensive medical care is in your destination country, what you’ll be doing abroad, and your budget.

Visa and School Requirements

The minimum insurance you must take differs depending on your destination country and visa. For example, the Schengen visa in Europe requires at least EUR €30 000 (equivalent to $50,000 USD) in overall benefits.

The US government requires you to meet minimum insurance standards if you are entering the US with a J visa. You are required to have at least a $100,000 overall insurance benefit. Unlike the J visa, students coming to study in the US on a F visa are not required by the government to meet any insurance requirements. Does this mean that you don’t need insurance if you have an F visa? No! Most schools in the US will require their international students to be enrolled in a private insurance plan or to enroll in a plan provided by the school. If you became ill or injured, lack of insurance could cause such a financial burden that you might have to withdraw from your school and return to your home country permanently.

Things to Consider

So, are the minimum required benefits for your visa or school enough for you? First, consider your destination country and the medical costs in that area.  Medical costs, particularly in the US, are so high that an unforeseen illness or injury or a combination of these throughout the year could easily exceed your visa or school requirements, leaving you with a lot of bills to pay.

     Medical Expenses

Medical costs in the United States are much higher than anywhere else in the world. The AXA released a study in 2013 of the costs for basic healthcare at the top 20 tourist destinations in the world. The report found that the average cost in the US is more than double that of the next most expensive country (Singapore).

For example, if you fell and broke a bone during your travels you could face bills of around $38,600 in the US, whereas the same injury would costed only $4,536 in Morocco or $23,200 in Singapore. If you are hospitalized for stomach problems such as gastroenteritis, treatment might cost around $3,200 in France, $4,700 in the Caribbean, $7,700 in Turkey, or a staggering $31,000 in the US.

These examples are not improbable situations – these things happen every day. To be caught without insurance in a situation like this could be detrimental to your finances. Consider the cost of medical care in the country that you are visiting and make sure to purchase insurance coverage that well exceeds the cost of one or more major injuries or illnesses. We recommend at least $100,000 in medical coverage outside of the US and at least $250,000 if you need US coverage.

     Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

Medical evacuation and repatriation coverage is a very important benefit if you are spending time overseas. Emergency medical evacuation arranges transportation to the nearest adequate medical facility or back to your home country, if medically necessary. Repatriation, or return of mortal remains, transports your deceased remains back to your home. According to Travelex, the average cost of a medical evacuation within North America costs around $25,000. From Europe, the cost to be transported back to the US exceeds $50,000. If a medical escort is needed, you can expect to pay an additional $11,000 within North America or an additional $24,000 from Europe.

To cover these high costs, we typically recommend that travelers and students purchase medical evacuation and repatriation coverage of about $50,000 – $100,000. If you are traveling to remote locations, you should consider coverage closer to $250,000 or more.

     Trip Duration

Secondly, the duration of your trip influences how much coverage you need. If you are visiting for just a few days or weeks, the minimum required by your visa may be enough coverage for you. However, if you’re coming for one year or more, your risk for multiple injuries and illnesses increases and you should consider a higher coverage limit. Students studying in the US for the duration of a degree programs (typically 4 years) or more should try to find a plan that is annually renewable and that has enough coverage for this long-term stay. We recommend at least an $250,000 annual coverage limit.

     Lifestyle and Activities

Lastly, no matter which visa you are on or what your destination country is, your lifestyle and activities should also be considered when deciding how much insurance coverage to purchase. For example, if you are participating in organized sports, extreme sports, or high risk activities, make sure your insurance plan covers them! We recommend you look for a plan with a benefit of at least $3,000 per injury specifically for organized sports. Be sure to check with your insurance agent if you are participating in other high-risk activities.

Increasing Coverage is Inexpensive

Most travel insurance plans will allow you to increase your overall maximum limit. Raising your overall maximum limit can protect you from having to pay out of your own pocket if something serious happens and the cost of upgrading your plan is relatively low. The International Travel Medical plan, for example, lets you choose your maximum coverage starting at $50,000 all the way up to $1 million dollars. Upgrading your plan from the $100,000 option to the $1 million option only costs an extra few cents per day.

There are also many insurance plans out there specifically for students that offer excellent benefits at an affordable prices. The International Student Insurance plan, for examples, gives you four levels of coverage to choose from. The overall maximum limits range from $200,000 up to $500,000 and offering increasingly comprehensive benefits. They range in cost, providing affordable options for all types of coverage.



I’m Pregnant! Can I Get Insurance?

July 8th, 2015 by Bryanna Davis

Expecting a child is an exciting time, but it also requires you to start realistically looking at your finances. Having a baby inside the Unites States can be very costly and the fees start even before childbirth, and continue through to delivery and after care. Delivering a child inside the US, for example, can cost anywhere from $3,000- $11,000 on average – and that is not taking into consideration complications. If you’re visiting or studying inside the United States and find out you’re pregnant, check your health insurance plan to confirm if it covers the maternity care you need.

If your current health insurance plan does not cover maternity related expenses, or you have no current coverage in place your options will be severely limited. The option of purchasing a plan that includes maternity coverage while pregnant will not be available in most cases. However, it will depend on your situation, location and insurance plan in question.

What options do you have? Let’s take a look!

Health Insurance Options:

As a general rule of thumb, nearly all insurance plans that offer some form of maternity coverage require that you are not pregnant when your plan starts. If you are, then either they will not cover you or they will simply exclude coverage for all maternity-related expenses. However, there are a few options that remain:

Travel Medical Insurance
If you will be inside the United States for a short period of time while pregnant, there are some travel medical insurance plans that will provide coverage for complications due to pregnancy. While this is not full maternity coverage, it will cover you in the event that your pregnancy causes a medical emergency. Keep in mind that plans with this benefit will often have a timeframe in which this benefit can be used so make sure to review your policy details.

ACA Compliant Plans:
ACA compliant insurance plans do not exclude pre-existing conditions (and pregnancies fall in this category). This means that if you’re already pregnant and you’re eligible, you’ll be able to receive maternity coverage with an ACA compliant plan. Keep in mind that your status as an international visitor along with the requirements of each state will vary. You will need to check the Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment (November 1- January 31) or see if you qualify for a special enrollment period.

Treatment Options Without Insurance:

If you’re not able to obtain an insurance plan that covers your maternity expenses, here are a few options that can help ease the pain of high maternity bills.

Birthing Center or Midwife:
Birthing centers are equipped to handle low-risk births, and have the capability to transfer mothers to a hospital in the event of complications. Birthing centers typically focus on natural births, without the use of doctors or epidurals. The cost of delivery at birth centers is typically between $3,000-$4,000.

Women’s Clinic:
Along with delivery fees, you must also consider prenatal and postnatal care- both of which can also become very expensive. A women’s clinic is a great option for women who need an economical alternative. The cost of care at a women’s clinic will vary on your income, so be sure to contact the clinic of your choice to get accurate pricing information.

Payment Plans:
If you’re set on seeking care at a hospital, it might still be an option- just keep in mind that your medical costs will add up quickly. If you have a cesarean or run into any complications it could quickly add up to almost $45,000. The good news is that many hospitals will allow you to set up payment plans and negotiate the cost. Prior to delivery, make sure you call local hospitals and doctors to compare prices and confirm if they’re able to arrange affordable payment plans.

Going Home:
Although it will bring your international activities to a halt, you should also explore the option of going home. Since the US is the most expensive country for medical care, this can save you money, especially if you have a national healthcare program back home. Consider the options above and contact your international student/scholar advisor to explore nearby options. If you’re unable to find an affordable maternity plan, consider placing your trip on hold, returning home to have your child, and returning to the US in the future.

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.

Atlas Travel

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

Global Medical

International Major Medical Insurance for those needing long term coverage.

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