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Health Insurance While on OPT

Imagine you have graduated from 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. Likewise, the college or university is glad to have you as an alumnus, but they no longer feel responsible for you like they did when you are 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 F1 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.

School Group Plans and OPT

Some schools think, these OPT students are still their responsibility, so we should make good health insurance available for OPT students. 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 those far-flung 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.

The OPT Student Dilemma

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

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.

By doing this, we make sure that favorable student rates and benefits are still available to OPT students. So whether you purchased your international student insurance from us while still enrolled at school, or only after you graduated, you can keep the same coverage in place throughout the term of your OPT.

Learn more about insurance with our "Insurance Explained" section