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, there is also an additional option of Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows international students to work in their field of study for 24 months after their coursework ends. During this time, in most circumstances, students are no longer covered by the mandatory health insurance provided by their universities.
Are International Students on OPT Required to Have Health Insurance in the U.S.?
The short answer is no. The U.S. does not require that international students on F1 student visas doing their Optional Practical Training (OPT) to be covered by 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.
Related Article: 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 no longer provide coverage and students on OPT typically elect to be insured through their employer. Under certain circumstances however, employers may not cover OPT students’ health insurance, in which case you will have to purchase a short-term student health insurance yourself until your employer can enroll you on to their 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.
Best OPT Health Insurance Plans
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 for OPT student plans are ideal and definitely most popular among international students:
Student Secure Elite
Student Secure Elite 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. With higher coverage limits, 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 VisitorsCoverage.
Student Secure Elite Health Insurance Plan
The Student Health Insurance Plan With The Highest Coverage Limits In The USA
Student Health Advantage – Platinum
Student Health Advantage – Platinum is a popular health insurance plans for foreign students, scholars, faculty, and their families. Not only does this plan meet the needs of F1 visa students, but also those of the J1 visa. This plan includes benefits for maternity, mental health and emergency medical evacuation. After a period of 12-month usage, this plan covers pre-existing conditions as well.
If the foreign student catches the Covid-19 virus after the active date of the plan, they’ll be covered for Covid-19 like any other illness. This is particularly important during the pandemic where both the student and employer has to be cautious.
Student Health Advantage – Platinum Health Insurance Plan
The Most Effective Student Health Insurance Plan In The USA
Student Secure – Smart
Designed specifically to meet the health requirements of foreign students, Student Secure – Smart is a budget friendly insurance plan. Not only does it cover for physician visits and urgent care visits, it also provides insurance against surgical treatment, prescription drugs and ambulance expenses.
As an added advantage, Student Secure – Smart also provides $25,000 lifetime coverage eligible acute onset of pre-existing conditions as well as coverage for Covid-19, if contracted after policy effective date.
Student Secure Smart Health Insurance Plan
The Most Inexpensive Student Health Insurance Plan In The USA
With 100% coverage within a PPO network, international students should be at ease when transitioning from their F1 visa to an OPT and getting into the field without the insurance coverage from their colleges. The health insurance for OPT student plans above allow them to be rest assured that they will be covered while they pursue opportunities in the U.S.