What to Consider Before Enrolling in ISO Plans


Stacy Phu | Apr 11, 2022 Insurance

The U.S is known for having a complicated healthcare system. In fact, more than half of Americans are confused when it comes to understanding health insurance. As an international student, it’s very understandable to feel like you’re in the same boat. Fortunately, ISO is here to help you purchase a health insurance plan that meets all your needs—including meeting any school requirements. Below, we have listed important considerations before you buy your ISO plan.

Know Your School Requirements

An insurance waiver gives you the option to opt of your school’s costly sponsored health insurance plan (SHIP). International students waive for various reasons; one is that you can save a fraction of the cost while maintaining similar coverage. Every school’s waiver and requirements to waive may vary—you can find information on your school website. This may mean having limited requirements or a hard waiver. Otherwise, ISO makes the process hassle-free—after you provide your visa type and school name, we’ll show you the plans that meet your school’s waiver requirements.

For more information on insurance waivers, view here.

Think About the Type of Coverage You Need

Unlike your school’s plan, waiving provides you with a choice in your health insurance coverage. ISO plans range in coverage options so you can compare benefits. Choosing a plan is very personal to your needs. Plans with a higher rate have more comprehensive coverage. You should explore what coverage will suit you best. It’s important to consider what you are willing to pay upfront in premium with respect to what you could save in total medical expenses long term. We always recommend opting for a plan with the most comprehensive benefits as this comes with more financial protection such as a lower deductible so your plan will start sharing the cost sooner. Please note that different types of coverage have nothing to do with the quality of care you’ll receive.

If you need help selecting an insurance plan, view here.

Confirm Your Coverage Period

Your school may require you to enroll in a plan for specific dates so be sure to check your requirements on your school’s website. Otherwise, do note that most ISO plans have a minimum coverage period of 3 or 5 months. There is no monthly payment plan option. You can enroll for as many months as you need/like and always have the option to extend your coverage before the policy ends. Also, note that we do not provide coverage for partial months. If you need help extending, you can always reach out to us.

View the Plan’s Benefits

It is especially important that you familiarize yourself with how the plan works. That way, if you need to seek medical attention, you will know exactly how to use your plan. You can view the plan brochure by clicking the “PDF” button next to a plan on our website. There, you will find the benefits including any copayments, the deductible you are responsible for before insurance starts coverage, and the coinsurance. Take note of what is included in your policy. All ISO plans cover injuries and sicknesses. This includes COVID-19 treatment and medically necessary testing, as well as coverage for accidents. The exclusions are also listed in the plan brochure. Our plans are generally comprehensive and cover medically necessary services. Regardless, be sure to look over what is not covered. For instance, our plans do not cover dental or vision examinations and treatments.

If you need a further explanation of insurance language, click here.

Know the PPO Network(s)

ISO plans work within the Preferred Provider Organization. This is a network of medical providers that guarantee affordable and accessible healthcare services throughout the U.S. The networks we utilize are First Health and Multiplan PPO, or Cigna PPO. We always recommend visiting an in-network provider as you will receive services at a negotiated rate or other discounts. Also, the provider will usually submit a claim on your behalf. Knowing the network(s) the plan uses will help you see which doctors and hospitals are in your area or check with a specific doctor if they will take ISO before enrolling.

For more information on how to find a provider, check out our blog.

Be Mindful of Your Waiver Deadline

Note that ISO makes waiving easy. Enrolling in a plan takes less than 5 minutes online. After enrollment, you will receive a confirmation email instantly that contains your information to fill out your waiver. For schools that require your insurance company to fill out a section of your waiver, the email will contain the PDF pre-filled with your insurance information. If you have an online waiver, we will issue you detailed instructions to submit your waiver to your school.

It is important to submit your waiver to your school before the deadline. We always recommend that students purchase their plan and submit their waiver as soon as possible so they don’t forget. Once you submit your waiver, it should be approved by your school. If you have any issues, you can always reach out and we will help with anything to get your waiver approved.

Remember, not all health insurances are the same! When enrolling with ISO, you are not only saving a fraction of the cost of your school’s plan but also signing up to be a part of our community. You will have access to excellent customer service, resources for all international student needs, and comparable benefits.

Need More Help?

Check FAQ and Blog for more

Call us at 1.800.244.1180, Monday - Friday, 9.00am to 6.00pm EST

Live Chat on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, or WeChat

Email us for other insurance questions!

Related articles


A Comprehensive Introduction to U.S. Healthcare

Jonathan Perez | Jul 09, 2024 Insurance

Using health care in the United States can be an intimidating ordeal for new visitors. Get an overview of common practices and systems in the United States, as well as how to use insurance for your visits.


Insurance Terminology That All International Students Should Know

ISO Customer Care | Jun 12, 2024 Insurance

Insurance policies can be filled with words and phrases that are not commonly used in everyday conversation. Here are some of the most common insurance terms that you need to know.


Five Reasons to Avoid the Emergency Room in the U.S.

Ed Zaleck | Jun 12, 2024 Insurance

One of the most common confusions international students have in the U.S. is determining when to go to the emergency room. Find out why it's best to avoid going there.

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 www.isoa.org and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

You chose for subject:
"Find doctors, clinics or hospitals".

Why not try looking for answers on our
Find Doctors & Hospitals