An In-Depth Look into the New York State Essential Plan


Jonathan Perez | Nov 27, 2023 Insurance

As many may hear or know, health care in the United States has a reputation for being one of the most expensive in the world. Many depend on a personal health insurance plan to reduce the costs of their medical bills but may compromise their desire for higher coverage with the amount such a plan might cost.

New York ranks in the top 20th percentile of states where health care costs are the highest. With several high-prestige colleges and a welcoming urban landscape, it is fair that NY is highly desired for those wanting to study in the U.S., and now, ISO has a plan that can support international students looking to achieve their academic dreams in the Big Apple.

General Breakdown of the NY Essential Plan

Offered and funded by the New York State of Health and a partnership with Emblem Health, the NY Essential Plan is a no deductible health insurance plan with 100% coverage that is also free. Additionally, the plan provides “Essential” comprehensive benefits, encompassing routine visits, dental and vision, hospital care, prescriptions, and more – all things that international students will need to have done when they arrive.

To simplify – this plan won’t cost you a single cent and will begin paying for a vast amount of health care services right away without an out-of-pocket expense.

The plan was created for those that fall within a “coverage gap” - adults that did not have enough funds for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan due to being under the poverty line, while also being ineligible for Medicaid or an employer plan. With international students generally falling into this category, the Essential Plan is a perfect way to bridge the coverage gap and improve health care outcomes for a wider range of New Yorkers.

A No Deductible Health Insurance Plan Sounds Great! Am I Eligible?

There are some specific criteria that must be met to be eligible for the Essential Plan. Specifically, one must hold a valid visa such as F1, F2, J1, J2, M1, B1, etc. as an international student or visitor, a permanent resident, or have U.S. citizenship while residing in the state of New York. The valid age group for this plan is between 21-64, and the individual must also make under $37,650 in annual earned income.

Should I Be Worried About Immigration Issues With This Plan?

For international students interested in becoming citizens or permanent residents of the United States, we would like to address any concerns about this status regarding your enrollment in the Essential Plan. Enrolling in this plan will not affect your immigration status or application for status.

Those concerned with the previous rule of Public Charge – or the dismissal of someone to become a citizen or resident due to a high dependence of public cash assistance for income maintenance can breathe a sigh of relief given its recent changes. As of 2022, this rule has been amended several times to exclude those using Essential Plan benefits, opening further opportunities for international students and the underprivileged to access comprehensive health care in New York.

But Can I Use This at My School?

With coverage levels of 100% and no deductible, enrollees in the NY Essential Plan will find that their benefits exceeds that of many school health insurance plans. If you are attending a school in New York and are residing in one of the eligible counties for this plan - the 5 NYC boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester to name a few – you can reach out to your advisor to see if this plan will be accepted.

ISO can diligently assist you throughout the waiver process to make sure that your plan meets your school’s specific requirements, and you can reach us via email at, or via phone call at (212) 262-8922.

More plan information, including a brochure, FAQs and eligibility requirements can be found by visiting our Essential Plan page online.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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