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Health Insurance While on OPT

Imagine you have graduated from a college or university and you have started working under the OPT program. Your employer could be located anywhere in the US, and you will be working just like any other employee of that company. Your connection to your college or university is no stronger than any other recent graduates — maybe you have fond memories, but your focus is on your job and getting practical training related to your degree. Likewise, the college or university is glad to have you as an alumnus, but in many cases, they no longer feel responsible for you like they did when you were on campus — you are an adult, out working in the world. So far, so good.

The OPT Tension

But hold on a minute. Under USCIS rules, you are still in F-1 status, and the college or university that brought you into the country is still theoretically responsible for you. So there is a tension between the reality — you are a working adult out on your own — and the USCIS rules — the school still has some responsibility for you. That tension is why school group health insurance plans vary widely as to whether you are permitted to keep the coverage while you are on OPT. This is an important issue, because at this point in your life, it is more important than ever that you have good health insurance coverage.

The OPT Student Dilemma

As a result of this tension, schools and insurance carriers often will not permit OPT students to remain on their international student group insurance plan. Even if permitted, the school group coverage is often no longer appropriate or good enough once you leave the geographic area of the school and its onsite student health center or clinic. So many students on OPT have to find their own health insurance plan.

School Group Plans and OPT

Some schools think that OPT students are still their responsibility and they should make good health insurance available to them. They try to work with their insurance carrier to extend the eligibility of their group plan to permit OPT students to remain on the plan, and to build a process whereby they can accommodate these graduated students. However, it is a lot of work to properly integrate OPT participants into a student group insurance plan, and insurance companies do not always understand why working adults should be treated in the same favorable manner as students when it comes to insurance benefits and pricing. At the same time, the school is no longer collecting tuition and fees, and may not have a way to collect the insurance premium from OPT students.

Finding Health Insurance for OPT

Since we are aware of this tension among insurers, schools, and OPT participants, we wanted to make it simple for international students transitioning into the workplace on OPT. Our international student health insurance plan specifically addresses this issue by clarifying that those on OPT are still eligible for the plan. Not only that, but this plan provides coverage in all 50 states and uses one of the most recognized, nationwide networks in the US, the UnitedHealthCare Network.

With this plan, we make sure that favorable student rates and benefits are still available to OPT participants. So whether you purchased your international student insurance from us while still enrolled at school or once you have graduated, you can keep the same coverage in place while on OPT.

You may find a job that offers your insurance through your employment, and that is usually a great option! But, our plans can cover you during the times that you aren’t employed (when you’re job searching initially after graduation, or if you’re in between jobs). Also, sometimes companies make you wait a certain amount of time before you are eligible for the insurance, but you want to be covered during this gap time too. You can purchase the international student health insurance plan for as few as 15 days at a time, so you don’t have to make a big commitment in order to be covered when you need it. Just be sure to extend your coverage (before it expires!) if you haven’t found a job yet or if your employer insurance hasn’t kicked in.
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International Student Health Insurance

Need insurance while studying overseas? The Student Secure plan is designed for both international and study abroad students.

Select the country where you need coverage. If you will be traveling to multiple countries, choose your primary destination. Coverage is worldwide outside your home country, and not limited to your host country.
Date that coverage should begin. This date cannot be more than 9 months from today.
This date cannot be more than 12 months from the date coverage begins.
Learn more about insurance with our Insurance Explained section