The US Department of State requires all J-1 visa holders to maintain health insurance for themselves and for any dependents in J-2 visa status, for the entire period of J status.
In order to satisfy this requirement, you'll be required to provide written proof of insurance coverage to our staff here in ISSS upon your arrival at American University. The information should be in English and must indicate that the insurance meets the minimum requirements for J-1 visitors as outlined by the Department of State. J-1 scholars (and J-1 students who are not enrolling in the AU student insurance plan) will need to submit the J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Verification form to ISSS. Please find those minimum requirements below.
The minimum requirements are as follows (effective May 15, 2015):
The J-1 (as well as J-2 dependent) is required to maintain health insurance for the entire period of the program indicated on the DS-2019.
The minimum requirement for health insurance coverage must provide medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness.
Insurance for medical evacuation is required with a $50,000 minimum. This is used in the unlikely event that there is a need for the J-1 visa holder to return to the home country for the medical treatment.
Insurance coverage for repatriation of remains is required with a $25,000 minimum. This is used in the unlikely event that the J-1 visa holder should die in the U.S. and his/her remains need to be returned the home country.
The maximum deductible on the health insurance may not exceed $500 per accident or illness.
Rating: Any insurance policy, plan, or contract must, at a minimum, be underwritten by an insurance corporation having one of the following: an A.M. Best rating of ''A-'' or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of ''A-'' or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ''B+'' or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ''A-'' or above; a Moody's Investor Services rating of ''A3'' or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or be backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country; or part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor;or offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The health insurance must cover all accompanying dependents in J-2 status, with the same terms as above.
J-1 students only are automatically registered for AU student insurance (unless an insurance waiver is completed before the deadline), which meets the requirements of coverage of the Department of State. You may view the AU insurance page at this link.
Maintaining insurance is critical to your ability to stay in status. Any exchange visitor who fails to maintain the insurance coverage stated above or makes a material misinterpretation will be in violation of his/her J-1 status and will be subject to termination of his/her program. The University must refuse a request from an exchange visitor who fails to maintain the required level of insurance coverage, as stated above, including travel signature, employment authorization, extension to the DS-2019, or a transfer of program.
Factors to Consider
In choosing an insurance policy, you should consider many factors, not simply the minimum stipulated by the Department of State. These considerations include:
Deductible Amounts. Most insurance policies require you to pay part of your health expenses yourself (your part is called the deductible), before the company pays anything. Under the J regulations, the deductible cannot exceed $500 per accident or illness (many policies offer a lower deductible).
Coinsurance. After you have paid the deductible, the insurance company usually only pays a percentage of your medical expenses. The policy might pay 80%, for example, and you would have to pay the remaining 20% of the expense. This is called the coinsurance. The J regulations require the insurance company to pay at least 75% of covered medical expenses.
Pre-existing Conditions. Most policies will not cover health problems you had before you bought the insurance (known as pre-existing conditions) - this includes pregnancy.
Lifetime/Per Occurrence Maximums. Exchange Visitors must have insurance that will pay at least $100,000 for each specific illness or injury (at least a $100,000 per-occurrence maximum). Be aware that medical treatment in the United States for major illnesses can cost several times that amount.
Exclusions. Most insurance policies do not cover certain conditions. The J regulations require that if a particular activity is a part of your Exchange Visitor program, your insurance must cover injuries resulting from your participation in that activity. Read the list of exclusions carefully so that you understand exactly what is not covered by the policy.
Affordable Care Act. Exchange visitors and dependents may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Below is a list of insurance companies that provide health insurance to J-1 visitors and their dependents. American University does not recommend or endorse these companies. Instead, we merely provide this list for your convenience. When selecting an insurance carrier, you should thoughtfully consider your individual and dependents’ needs for health insurance coverage, assessing whether a particular health insurance product meets those needs. We strongly recommend that you evaluate a number of companies to find the one that best meets your needs while fulfilling the U.S. Department of State insurance requirements.
Please, read the policy information carefully and please ask questions before you purchase an insurance plan.
We strongly encourage you to contact the insurance company before applying for a J-1 visa as it may be a lengthy process, and you are required to have insurance coverage from the first day of your J-1 program in the United States.
A list of health insurance options can be found in the NAFSA Resource Library, as well as the following options:
The Harbour Group, L.L.C.:
International Student & Scholar Medical Insurance
1800 Michael Faraday Drive, Suite 201
Reston, Virginia 20190
Phone: 800-252-8160 (toll free)