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Health Care and Required Medical Insurance

The Need for Medical/Health Insurance

 Medical/health insurance is necessary in the United States.  There is no universal healthcare system and the cost of care is extremely expensive. The estimated cost for health insurance is included on your I-20. By signing sponsorship documents or the I-20, you promise to have medical insurance coverage for the student. Make sure to keep your health insurance active. Talk to the insurance company about OPT insurance or with the company that will hire you about OPT insurance plans.

How to Choose Your Insurance

Here are some basic points about insurance.

For ANY insurance company, you need to understand what exactly is being covered. Here are a few basic points that are especially important:

  • Individual or family coverage. If you have dependents (a spouse and/or children), you need to be sure they are also covered!  You may purchase individual policies for each person or purchase dependent coverage on your policy.  Family coverage may also be possible.
  • Geographical limitations. You need to know whether the insurance policy pays for medical services outside the United States (if you take a trip) or even in other parts of the US.  Most will not pay in your home country but may pay if you are on a trip to another country.
  • Medical Evacuation, Repatriation and the special and REQUIRED parts of an "International Student" plan.  Medical Evacuation would cover the cost of flying you home if you were too ill to recover in the US, including the cost of medical personnel or any special equipment you would need during your transportation.  Repatriation would return your body to your family in the event of your death.  Some policies include a clause to fly a family member to you if you are hospitalized for a long period of time.
  • Coverage for other health services. Dental care (except for teeth broken in an injury) and vision services (eye exams, glasses or contact lenses) are NOT normally part of a medical policy.  They often require separate policies but may be a rider on a medical policy.
  • Cancellation clause. Most insurance companies are required to include a provision that lets you review a plan for a specified period (usually at least 10 days) and, if do not want the policy for any reason, be able to get a full refund.
  • Appeals process. Find out about the company's appeals process, if you think your claim has been denied without justification. But before you undertake this action, you need to clearly understand the limitations and exclusions of the policy. Always ask questions if you are not sure about any point in the policy.
  • Make sure to keep your health insurance active.  You must have insurance all the time you are at MC.  You need to know if you pay per year, per semester, or per month.  Most student policies will cover you during all 12 months, but some only cover during school months (and expect you to be in your home country in summer).  Students who have graduated and are waiting to transfer or have been awarded OPT must talk to the insurance company about extending coverage or OPT insurance or with the company that you may do OPT with about their insurance plans.


Basic Insurance Terms and Definitions

Benefits: A sum of money or services provided to the insured according to the terms of the contract.

Claim: A formal request by the insured for payment for a covered expense.

Co-payment: 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. NOTE: Some policies will have a lower deductible if you visit your schools Student Health Service. Montgomery College does NOT have a health center. Be prepared to pay the higher deductible and ask the company if you can get a waiver for the lower amount.

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.

Longer Glossary of Health Coverage and Medical Terms

International Student Insurance companies

These companies offer simple policies that cover "major medical" issues but do not cover everything.

They offer simple policies that cover major medical issues but do not cover everything. Each company is a bit different and may cover some things differently. Normally, more expensive insurance will cover more things and less expensive insurance will cover fewer things -- however, your premium and deductible (see the vocabulary list) are also important.  The more you pay (in premiums), the less you will pay if you need to use the insurance (in deductible or co-payments) and the less you pay in premiums, the more you will pay if you need to use the insurance.

If you have a pre-existing condition (an illness or injury already that you will need medical assistance with), you need to search for Affordable Care Act insurance (see end of list) OR find a policy with one of the other companies that is ACA-Compliant.

Disclaimers: The above information is provided for reference ONLY. These companies or organizations are not connected or affiliated with Montgomery College.

The below insurance companies are listed in alphabetically order.

Affordable Care Act Marketplace: F-1 students may use The Affordable Care Act Marketplaces to find comprehensive medical insurance.  The International insurance listed here covers mostly emergency care only.  US citizens and permanent residents are required to have medical Insurance and this program assures they can find companies to cover them. International students do NOT need a Social Security Number, or to live in the US 5 or more years, to qualify (as is required of other international persons). For more information call 1-800-318-2596

Compass Group: It is a strategic partner of IASIS, the insurance advisory non-profit affiliated with the World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation, and takes pride in offering quality products and helping educate students and scholars about all insurance options.

Cultural Insurance Services International: Insurance for individuals and groups engaging in international or cultural exchange.

Health Care Global (Wallach & Company, INC.): Specializing in providing medical insurance and assistance for individuals traveling or living outside their home country.

iNextnew window: iNext offers a complete portfolio of travel and medical travel protection plan coverage. (Students recommended)

International Incorporated Associated Insurance Plans International Inc.: Provides student-related insurance program for colleges and universities across the United States.

International SOS: The World's Largest Medical Assistance Company.

International Student Insurance: Health, medical and travel insurance programs for international student abroad.

ISO (International Student Organization): ISO offers insurance for students under OPT.

On Call International: Provides a variety of medical and travel assistance services for individuals.

PGH Globalnew window: Offers different health insurance plans that include travel assistance (including medical evacuation and repatriation), discount dental and vision programs, and 24/7 NurseLine.

PSI Health Insurance: Specializing in international student health insurance for over 20 years.

The Harbour Group L.L.C.: A specialized, full service insurance broker that provides comprehensive medical insurance to international students & scholars. Notice:This insurance is not available if you are living within the state of Maryland.

VISIT® International Health Insurance Program: The Trusted Name in International Health and Travel Medical Insurance for over 30 Years! International Health, Travel Medical, Medical Evacuation & Trip Cancellation Plans for all International Travel.

Learn more general information about Medical Insurance for International Students (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window)

You can also watch this short videonew window, "US Healthcare System Overview" from International Student Insurance.

US Healthcare System Overview Video