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Health Insurance in the USA

Learn about how health insurance works in the USA

The United States is ranked first for being the most expensive medical care in the world. Since there is no nationalized health care system, international students will be responsible for their own health care by paying for their treatment or having a health insurance plan. Because of this, it is imperative that international students studying in the US understand the health insurance system and begin health insurance immediately upon entering the United States, continuing until their departure date.

Medical Expenses in the USA

Most international students are surprised to see how expensive medical costs can be in the US. Students who have health insurance will have most of their bill covered, but keep in mind that there may be some out of pocket amount students will need to pay. Without this insurance, medical treatment can be extremely expensive, and oftentimes even impossible to pay for. Here are some common costs:

Appendicitis $60,493
Fractured Humerus $47,445
Fractured Clavicle $18,393
Car Crash/Serious Illness $150,000+

School Insurance Requirements

Some colleges and universities require international students to have a health insurance plan throughout the entire enrollment period because it’s easy to rack up debt on a medical emergency. Depending on your school, international students may be required to enroll in their school’s group insurance plan or provide proof of a private insurance plan that meets the minimum requirements determined by their school.

What Insurance May Not Cover

Though insurance will pay for most of the medical expenses, international students should still be expected to pay for some parts of the bill, or other portions of the insurance coverage, out of pocket.

International students will have to pay an initial cost when buying insurance coverage. Those who fail to pay the premium when it is due will have their insurance policies cancelled.
This is the amount of money the student is responsible for paying for medical expenses before the insurance company pays the other costs. International students with a $1,000 deductible, for example, will pay $1,000 before the insurance company will pay the other eligible expenses.
Coinsurance is a cost sharing agreement between the insurance company and the insured. International students with coinsurance must pay a certain percentage of their medical costs after the deductible has been paid.
These fees are usually $25 or less, and is the set amount paid each time a medical service is accessed. This may apply for a doctor’s appointment.

For more on out of pocket expenses, check out our article on understanding out of pocket expenses.

Choosing Treatment

Before seeking treatment at a medical facility in the US, it is important to know what facilities accept the insurance plan. Insurance plans typically have a network of doctors, hospitals and clinics that are set up to accept direct payment, and typically offer services at discounted rates. A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is a common type of insurance policy that will allow students to visit whatever health care provider they’d like, whether inside the network or outside the network. If you go inside the network, however, students will often get to take advantage of the discounted rates and these providers have also agreed to accept direct payment.

For more on insurance provider networks, check out our article on insurance provider networks .

Though health insurance in the US can be complex, it is completely necessary for international students. With the cost of medical expenses being so high, international students are strongly encouraged to choose a health care plan that will protect them from those costs.

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Best Insurance Plans for the USA

We have a range of insurance plans, however for students studying in the USA the best insurance options are: