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.
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:
|Car Crash/Serious Illness||$150,000+|
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.
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.
For more on out of pocket expenses, check out our article on understanding out of pocket expenses.
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.