While having health insurance when you study in the U.S. is not required by HOFT Institute, it is highly recommended. It is best to be prepared. One can never know when medical treatment may be needed, and, without insurance, many international students are unprepared for the high costs of health care in the U.S.
HOFT Institute works closely International Student Insurance, a specialized insurance agency selling health and travel insurance to students from around the world.
We understand that choosing a health insurance plan can be a daunting experience. We have gathered some information that will guide you through the process.
Watch this short video to learn about the healthcare system in America:
What is International Student Health Insurance?
International student health insurance, at its best, is a tailor-made health insurance plan designed to cover an international student (and their dependents, if applicable) while they are studying in the U.S. It is best to keep in mind that insurance in the U.S. will vary depending on the insurance plan you choose and will more than likely be different from what you are accustomed to receiving in your home country. We recommend that you contact more than one insurance provider so you can compare the different options that are offered. When you speak with each insurance agent, let them know your needs and what you would like in a health care plan. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions. They are there to help you!
Important Insurance Terms Defined
Premium: Direct cost for the insurance plan, not including deductible and co-payments.
Deductible: Set amount that must be paid for medical services by a policyholder before any payment is due from the insurance company.
Co-payment: The preset dollar amount of a medical services bill a person must pay out of his/her own pocket.
Benefits: Expenses payable to a policyholder as described in the insurance policy.
Claim: A policyholder’s request for reimbursement of expenses from an insurance company.
Exclusions and Limitations: Medical conditions and/or events not covered by an insurance policy.
Explanation of Benefits (EOB): Description of payments issued by the insurance company after a claim has been processed. The EOB will also state the remaining amount that may be owed by the policyholder to the medical provider. Note: this is not a bill, but an explanation of covered expenses.
Co-insurance: The percentage of each medical services bill a person must pay out of his/her own pocket.
Out-of-Pocket: Money spent directly by a policyholder that will not be reimbursed by the insurance company. For example: If your hospital bill is $1,000 and you must pay a $300 deductible, your total out-of-pocket expense would be the $300 deductible + $140 co-insurance.
Out of Pocket Maximum: The maximum dollar amount the policyholder can be required to pay out-of-pocket, after which time the insurance company must cover costs at 100% until the maximum dollar limit is reached.
Maximum Dollar Limit: The maximum dollar amount an insurance provider will pay out during a certain amount of time as specified in the policy.
Pre-Existing Condition: A medical condition or illness that a policyholder had before purchasing a health insurance policy.
Provider: Any doctor, specialist, hospital, or other person or entity providing medical services.
Network Provider: All physicians, specialists, hospitals, and other providers who have agreed to provide medical care to holders of an insurance policy.
Generic Prescription: A prescription offered by a company that did not originally patent it. Generic prescriptions are generally identical to and cheaper than their “brand-name” alternative.
Rx: A common abbreviation for the word “prescription”.
Tips for Choosing a Student Insurance Plan
Every student has different needs. If you are unfamiliar with health insurance or come from a country where there is a socialized healthcare system, the idea of health insurance and having exclusions may be a little foreign to you. It is not typical that every single medical expense will be covered under a health care plan, so it is important to determine what you must have. This will help you in your search.
The following steps and questions will help you choose the plan best suited for you:
- What is the maximum out of pocket expense you are willing to pay? Some plans have limited or no co-payments while others have larger out of pocket expenses. A larger out of pocket expense means you will have to pay more up front when you go to the doctor, hospital, or pharmacy.
- Are there certain benefits you must have? Do you require additional benefits such as maternity, mental health, dental coverage, or vision coverage? If these benefits are not necessary for you, that will help you choose between plans.
- How much can you afford to spend monthly for an insurance plan? Keep in mind that premiums, while very important in the decision making process, should not be your only leading factor. Cheaper plans rarely cover more than more expensive plans, so be sure to pick a plan that is affordable as well as provides you the benefits you need.
- Study the benefits offered by each plan. Compare them carefully.
- Make sure you receive a full listing of exclusions for each plan. This will tell you exactly what is not covered by each plan.
- Ask the representative to provide you with examples of how each plan works. For example, if you visit a general doctor and the total cost of the visit is $1000, what portion of that cost will you have to pay? What will the insurance plan cover?
- Ask about your access to doctors, clinics and hospitals. Some plans require that you use only doctors in a PPO network. A PPO network is a network of doctors that accept that particular insurance plan. If a plan only allows you to use doctors within a PPO network, make sure that there are doctors and hospitals in the PPO network that are accessible to you.
- What services does each plan offer if you need assistance? Will they help you locate a health care provider if necessary? Are they available 24 hours a day if you have questions? Do they have translators available in case you need further explanation in your native language?