Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide

Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide's photoBy Ernest Emeka
Thu Jul 18 2024
Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide

Share this article

Coming from a third-world nation like Nigeria gives most international students a double-take regarding their health insurance. Imagine a 25-year lady whose reliable health consultant is an ‘agbo seller’ along her street, who gives her different coloured shots of concoctions for varying ailments. As a life backup, she attends a prayer house that splits ‘fire’ on any negative circumstances around her. 

Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide

She has never considered paying for insurance when she has an ‘agbo seller’ and her prophetess. Everything changes for this lady when it's time to study abroad, and she finds out that health insurance is compulsory and expensive. Her story is familiar to many international students who have never thought about having health insurance in their countries.

With the exchange rate of many African countries dancing PSY’s Gangnam Style against other powerful world currencies, health insurance payments could leave you in a bad financial position. 

Why Do I Need International Student Health Insurance?

International students need good health insurance policies because they may be unable to afford healthcare abroad, especially in the US, UK, or Canada. In addition, as an international student, you are not protected under a government scheme that can take care of your health. Hence, you have to pay more when you need medical attention.

Because of this, international students must pay for their health insurance before they can relocate to their new destinations. 

What Is the Best International Student Insurance Plan?

A good international student insurance plan should cover medical treatment, medication, and emergency evacuation. The best plan depends on the most preferred that can suit your medical needs. Therefore, you should shop around before you can make up your mind. 

Here is a list of what to consider before you pick a student insurance plan:

·         What’s the insurance policy maximum? The policy maximum is the amount of money that an insurance company can cover.

·         How much is the deductible? Deductible or excess is the amount of money an international student must pay before an insurance company covers the rest of the expenses. 

·         Does it have international coverage? You should consider the international coverage of your insurance, especially if you intend to travel to other countries. 

·         Does it cover all the items you need? You should check pre-existing conditions and other areas that your insurance can cover.

·         Does it meet your school's requirements? An insurance plan should cover your school’s medical policies.

What Does Health Insurance for International Students Cover?

·         Emergency medical evacuation. 

·         In-patient medical treatment includes anesthesia, surgery, hospital room, and ICU.

·         Prescription medication.

·         X-rays and lab work.

·         Out-patient medical treatment. 

·         Dental emergencies.

Some insurance plans can handle the following:

·         Local ambulances.

·         Mental health.

·         Injuries as a result of playing sports.

·         Non-emergency dental coverage (checkups, fillings, etc.)

·         Maternity.

·         Pre-existing medical conditions.

The NHS for International Students in the UK

In the United Kingdom,  the National Health Service (NHS) allows residents to access its healthcare services for free or for an additional payment.

Read: How to Pay IHS Fee & UK Visa Fee From Nigeria

Can International Students in the UK use the NHS?

Full-time international students whose study would last more than six months can make use of NHS services. Students staying under six months must take out private health insurance coverage. 

How much does it Cost to Use the NHS as an International Student?

International students must pay for an immigration health surcharge (IHS), which costs at least £470 per year of students’ intended stay (subject to new policies that can change this price. Kindly check for the new price). Students staying at least a year and six months would pay an extra fee for the extra months.

When you make your IHS payment, you  are eligible to use the NHS services free of charge, which can cover the following areas:

·         Covid-19 tests and treatment 

·         Sexual health, family planning, and contraceptive services

·         A&E (accident and emergency) services 

·         NHS hospital treatment

·         GP services

·         Diagnosis and treatment of certain infectious diseases

·         Domestic violence or sexual violence treatment

·         Palliative care services

·         Psychiatric treatment or treatment that a court has ordered

However, prescribed drugs would be your responsibility if you are sent to a local pharmacy for collection. 

In Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free of charge in most cases. 

Is my NHS number the same as my National Insurance (NI) number?

No. The NHS number is different from the National Insurance number. You receive your NHS number once you register with a GP, while the National Insurance number is used for administration purposes like taxation, employment, national 

insurance fees, and benefits. 

Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide

How do I register for the NHS and get an NHS number?

International students in the UK have paid for their immigration health surcharge and need to register with a general practitioner (GP) to help them access NHS services. After registration with a GP, you can receive an NHS number. We recommend registering with a GP when you arrive in the country.

Read:UK Student Visa Applications in Nigeria: Requirements, Process & Payment Options

Documents Required to Register with a UK GP

•   A letter from your university proving your enrolment to the institution

•    International passport

Can my dependents use the NHS?

Yes. your  spouse, civil partner, or children with you are entitled to free NHS hospital treatment (but only if they are dependents with their visas.) Each dependent have to pay IHS individually and still register with a GP.

Health Insurance for International Students in the USA

International students may not need health insurance to get an F1 visa, but they may need it to enroll at universities. Hence, good health insurance coverage is not a requirement by law but set by universities.  

How to Get Health Insurance for International Students in the USA?

You should check if your school mandates international students to buy health coverage. Some schools implement a mandatory group health insurance plan.

1.    International students must ask schools with a mandatory group health insurance plan if they are included in the tuition bills or paid differently before completing their payments.

a.    You can check for an optional waiver if your school has mandatory group health insurance coverage if it doesn't fit your medical needs. You can request a waiver form.

2.    Check for companies offering health insurance for international students in the US or brokers. 

3.    Check if your dependents can be added to the plan if you plan to bring someone to the US with you.

4.    Go for  the most suitable plan for you

When Should F1 Visa Applicants Get Health Insurance?

International students can get health insurance in the United States or even before travel. 

What are the Health Insurance Options for International Students in the US?

 Here are the main types of health insurance options for international students:

Mandatory Group Plan

·         The plan is often automatically added to tuition fees

·         It costs more than individual plans

·         It offers more comprehensive coverage:

  1. Maternity
  2. Wellness
  3. Preventative care
  4. Pre-existing conditions without a waiting period
  5. Mental health

Mandatory Group Plan with Waiver Option

A mandatory insurance plan with predetermined coverage allows students to opt-out. The school provides a "waiver form." that contains a list of the benefits requirements that a health insurance policy must meet.

Optional Plan

Some schools don't have mandatory plans with predetermined coverage and allow students to select whatever plan they like.

Read: David’s Captivating Story: A Sickle Cell Warrior Who Is Inspiring Other Patients With His Creativity

International Student Health Insurance Requirements in the USA

·         Adequate Policy Maximum (a plan with a policy maximum of at least $50,000)

·         Relatively Low Deductible

·         Mental Health Coverage

·         Maternity Coverage (With at least an 80%coverage in-network for prenatal, delivery, and post-natal care)

·         Pre-existing Condition Coverage

·         Repatriation of Remains Coverage

What Determines the Cost of My F1 Visa Health Insurance?

·         Student’s location.

·         Student’s age

·         Coverage

How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan for F1 Students?

·         The sub-limit of your health insurance (the maximum sum the plan will cover for a specific medical treatment and hospitalization)

·         Where you purchase your health insurance. Purchasing student health insurance in the US is recommended because it is easier to process claims...

·         The school’s requirements. 

Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide

Health Insurance for International Students in Canada

How does health insurance work in Canada for international students?

International students in Canada need health insurance. Most Canadian provinces offer international students health insurance under their provincial plan, while some have different options.

If you opt for private health insurance, medical institutions or hospitals give you a card that offers your agreed coverage of care for free. However, this requires an administrative wait that can take weeks, like in Alberta, or at least three months in British Columbia, before receiving your card.

Canadian Provinces and their Health Insurance Plan for International Students

1.    Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan offer international students health insurance before arrival. Other provinces.

2.    Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon do not offer health insurance for international students ( students require private insurance in their home countries that can then be extended to Canada)

If you are studying in Manitoba: You need primary health coverage under the Manitoba International Student Health Plan (MISHP). 

If you are studying in Ontario: You require mandatory health coverage under the University Health Insurance Program (UHIP).  

What is out-of-province medical coverage?

Canada has different provinces with varying healthcare arrangements that can only cover medical expenses in the particular province where you took out the insurance. Therefore, you need out-of-province medical cover if you are going to other parts of Canada as an international student.









Subscribe to Pay4Me newsletter

Get the best and latest posts surrounding finances and payments in your inbox each week.

You can unsubscribe at any moment, no hard feelings.