The main purpose of an insurance plan is to protect you against a major financial loss in case of a serious illness or accident. When you purchase insurance, you agree to pay a certain amount on a monthly or quarterly basis, and the company agrees to pay for your expenses either partially or in full. The document that you sign is called a policy, and it typically states the covered expenses and exclusions (expenses not covered) under the terms of the contract.
Unlike some other countries, the United States does not have a universal health care system. A short stay in the hospital can result in thousands of dollars in medical expenses. A non-emergency visit to a regular physician today can easily cost $100, not including medication if needed. You should know that the U.S. government does not pay for health care costs for international students. In fact, if you are an F-1 student, you are required to have enough funds to cover such expenses. You are therefore strongly advised to buy medical insurance to avoid serious financial hardship that could ruin your educational plans.
Regardless of your choice of insurance company, you need to clearly understand the nature and the extent of your coverage. Here are a few basic points that are especially noteworthy:
Claim - A formal request by the insured for payment for a covered expense.
Copayment - The amount for which the insured is responsible after the deductible (if applicable) has been met. For example, under an HMO medical plan you may be required to pay a fixed amount during each visit to your doctor.
Deductible - The amount of money that the insured individual is required to pay before the insurance company pays its own share of the expense.
Emergency - Hospital service usually reserved for serious or urgent care situations. Most HMOs require a referral from your primary care physician.
Exclusions - Expenses or services that are not covered under the terms of an insurance policy and must be paid by the insured.
Lapse in Coverage - Termination of policy normally due to nonpayment of premiums.
Policy - A contract issued by the insurer stating the benefits, limitations, and exclusions of an insurance plan.
Pre-existing condition - A medical condition that existed before the plan was purchased. The company does not normally cover expenses related to this condition.
Premium - Payment made periodically (monthly, quarterly or semi-annually) to the insurer to ensure coverage.
Below is a list of insurance websites:
Compass Benefits Group (https://www.compassstudenthealthinsurance.com/)
Cultural Insurance Services International (http://www.culturalinsurance.com/)
Fortis Short Term and Student Health through National
Insurance Store (http://www.nationalinsurancestore.com/montgomery-college)
Health Care Global (Wallach & Company, INC.) (http://www.wallach.com/)
HTH Worldwide Insurance Services (800-242-4178)
International Incorporated Associated Insurance
Plans International Inc. (http://www.associatedinsuranceplans.com/)
International SOS (http://www.internationalsos.com/)
International Student Insurance (http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/)
ISO - International Student Organization (http://www.isoa.org/)
Lewer Agency, Inc. (http://www.lewer.com/)
On Call International (http://www.oncallinternational.com/)
The Harbour Group L.L.C. (http://www.hginsurance.com/)