Importance of Maintaining Health Insurance in the US

Ed Zaleck | Jun 29, 2021

For many international students and foreign visitors to the United States, one of the most difficult things to understand is how different the healthcare system in the U.S. works in comparison to other countries.

We know most students/visitors purchase insurance for their school/visa requirements, as opposed to buying for personal need. With this in mind, we wanted to briefly explain why you should ensure you have health coverage in the U.S.

High healthcare costs

Healthcare in the U.S. is privatized and complicated, which allows and often creates the need for providers to charge higher rates for medical services. This is in stark contrast to universal healthcare systems in other countries, where the government has more power and can often regulate the rates.

Needing to get medical services for even the most basic things can create a huge financial burden. For example, treatment for a broken leg can cost up to $7,500 and a three-day hospital stay can cost up to $30,000 for the uninsured (source:

School/visa requirements

Colleges in the U.S. are always looking out for ways to keep their students safe. With this, most schools set up an exclusive plan to cover students through an insurance company and make it mandatory to enroll in it or find comparable coverage to waive out of it.

Students should review the requirements for insurance at their school as it may be your responsibility to purchase on your own. Schools can put a hold on your student account if you don’t have sufficient coverage, which may exclude you from registering from classes or using school resources.

In addition, it is mandatory for J1 visa holders and their J2 dependents to have coverage that meets the U.S. Department of State requirements. Most other visas, including F1-OPT and H1B, are not required to have insurance but may be offered coverage through their employer or program.

Coverage is less for visitors

One perk of purchasing insurance as a foreign visitor is that you will not be required to purchase an ACA-Compliant plan (your school/program may require it, but not the government). This allows you to purchase plans that provide essential coverage for only injuries/sicknesses.

ACA-Compliant plans require coverage for wellness and preventative care measures and pre-existing conditions, which will create higher premium rates. For example, ISO’s basic international student insurance plans start at $31 a month while the average ACA plan can cost around $456 a month.

There are plenty of insurance options available for international visitors so you should take full advantage of this and find something that works best for you. You will not use it every day but insurance is definitely something you do not want to find yourself without.

Find an ISO plan that works for you HERE.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

ISO Student Health Insurance (ISO), founded in 1958 and headquartered in New York City, is an insurance brokerage specializing in health insurance solutions for international students. As such, ISO acts as plan administrator, broker and manager of the high-quality insurance products available for international students, scholars and their dependents during their course of study in the U.S.

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

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