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Health Insurance in the U.S.

For questions about WVU's health insurance, please visit WVU's Student Insurance Office webpage.

There are several important facts and terms that you need to know about health insurance in the U.S.

  • Most major US health insurance companies will not sell health insurance policies to international students. There are, however, companies that sell only to internationals that you may purchase for yourself and your family.
  • The US does not have socialized medicine. All costs of health care are paid by the patient.
  • Even if you buy a health insurance policy, some insurance providers will likely require that you pay all the bills first and fill out a claim form to request reimbursement by the insurance company. It can take as long as two or more months to process a claim.
  • All insurance policies are different in their coverage, costs, and the percentage of your medical costs that will be reimbursed. COMPARE POLICIES BEFORE YOU BUY ONE.

The following are terms that policies have in common and that you should be sure to understand before you buy a policy. If you have doubts about any aspect of a policy, call the company and clarify information before you buy it.

  • Dependent coverage means insurance for your spouse and children. It is available in most policies at an extra cost.
  • A premium is the amount you pay to buy the policy.
  • A deductible is an amount of money that you must pay for your health services. It can be a specific amount or a percentage of the cost of the medical bill. This is a non-refundable cost.
  • Basic medical benefits refer to the maximum amount of money that a policy will pay to you for whatever basic medical services are covered by the policy. A policy does not necessarily cover all medical services. Also check what percentage of the costs are covered by your policy. Many only cover 80% of the bills.
  • Major medical benefits refer to supplemental programs that you can purchase for an additional cost to cover the expenses of major medical emergencies that will go beyond the maximum amount covered in the basic medical benefits.
  • A repatriation benefit pays an amount to help cover the cost of returning the policy holder’s body to his home country in the event of death. Such costs can be as high as $5,000.
  • In some policies, items such as coverage for prescription drugs, eye care, and dental coverage cost extra.
  • A pre-existing condition clause allows the company not to pay for treatment on conditions that existed a certain number of months or years before the policy was purchased.

Health Insurance Coverage Requirement For International Students

It is WVU policy that all international students have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation coverage. WVU defines International Students as any student who is not a permanent resident or US citizen. WELLWVU and the official Health insurance provider Aetna is responsible for monitoring and verification of international students’ required health insurance.

It is the student’s responsibility to comply with University and Aetna regulations as they relate to health insurance.

F-1 students are required to have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation coverage each semester they are registered. F-1 dependents are strongly encouraged to maintain insurance coverage at all times.

J-1 students and their dependents are required to have medical health insurance and medical evacuation/repatriation at all times.

All health insurance for international students must meet certain requirements.

Student Insurance Office

Health Insurance for Visitors & Tourists

International Students and Scholars Services would like to recommend that anyone coming to visit you in the United States obtain health insurance specifically for their stay. Family or friends who come to visit you in the United States may or may not have sufficient medical insurance coverage from their home country that extends to the U.S.

Medical services in the U.S. are expensive and a trip to the emergency room or hospitalization can result in large bills for those who are uninsured or under-insured. Short-term insurance can be purchased in a variety of plan lengths specifically for tourists visiting the U.S. As you look at the information be sure that you choose the information brochures for “visitors” to the U.S. Visitors should carefully check each plan to ensure that coverage would be sufficient in the event of an accident or illness. All insurance policies are different in their coverage, costs, and the percentage of your medical costs that will be reimbursed. COMPARE BEFORE YOU BUY ONE.