With over 1 million international students enrolled in U.S. academic institutions every year, it goes without saying that the United States is a popular destination for students from abroad. Taking admissions in a U.S. college entails expensive tuition, boarding and a mandatory health insurance requirement. However, they also have the Optional Practical Training (OPT) which allows them to work in their field of study for 24 months. At this time, in most circumstances, they are not covered by the mandatory health insurance provided by their universities.

Question is - Are international students on OPT required to have health insurance in the U.S.?

Short answer is – No. The U.S. immigration does not require international students on F1 student visas doing their Optional Practical Training (OPT) to buy student health insurance. However, it is highly recommended that international students are  always  covered by health insurance. Given the exorbitant cost of medical treatments in the U.S., it is advised that no one goes uninsured.

Are OPT visa holders eligible for visitors insurance?

As students in the U.S., your university will cover for you and provide health insurance. But as OPT students most universities do not and students on  OPT  elect to be insured through their employer.  Under certain circumstances, employers may not cover OPT students’ health insurance, in which case you will have to purchase a short-term student health insurance yourself until they can enroll into your employer sponsored health insurance.

What Are The International Student Health Insurance Requirements In The U.S.

If your U.S. college or university is not covering your health insurance you, as an OPT student should purchase insurance that fulfills the following conditions -

  • Sufficient Policy Maximum: As international students, you should purchase a health insurance plan with a policy maximum of a minimum of $50,000.
  • Mental Health Coverage:  This requirement is included since universities want to make sure their students are not only physically healthy but also mentally.
  • Maternity Coverage: Adequate maternity coverage will be required for female students, with at least an 80% coverage in-network for prenatal, delivery and post-natal care.
  • Pre-existing Condition Coverage: Buy a health insurance plan that covers all pre-existing conditions, if any.

    Know the difference between pre-existing conditions and acute onset of pre-existing conditions.

  • Repatriation of Remains Coverage: As international students, it is required that the health insurance you have provides for coverage for repatriation of remains, i.e., return your mortal remains to your home country.
  • Low Deductible:  To be able to have minimum out-of-pockets costs, you should buy health insurance that has a deductible limit per condition or per policy period.

What Are The Best Health Insurance Plans For OPT Students?

Foreign students on OPT might not have health insurance coverage from their university or college. Since having health insurance is so very important in the U.S., they can buy a health insurance plan from a marketplace. There are many insurance plan options that OPT students can buy. While some are inexpensive and affordable, they provide lesser coverage while others are more expensive but provide better coverage. The important aspect to consider is if these plans cover specific requirements like hazardous sports, Covid-19 coverage for Coronavirus, pregnancy, and pre-existing health conditions.

The following health insurance plans are ideal for OPT students and definitely most popular among international students. – 

Student Secure Elite

This plan is most sought after for the extensive coverage it provides for OPT students. It has 100% coverage within the PPO network and covers an average semi-private room and nursing services. With higher coverage limits, and inclusive of sports coverage, acute onset of pre-existing conditions, Covid-19, emergency evacuation and mental health coverage, this is one of the most popular health insurance plans for foreign students on OPT.

Not only does it fulfill all the basic requirements for international students, it is easily available from Visitors Coverage.