Health Insurance for Study Abroad
The Office of International Exchange & Study Abroad recommends that students choose from one of the many insurance providers suggested by the NAFSA: Association of International Educators resources page should their own plans do not cover studying abroad. We suggest looking at Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) as their plans begin at $31.
Health insurance that can cover you while overseas on a study abroad is MANDATORY. Below are several tips and considerations about health insurance.
Reviewing Your Medical History & Needs Before Going Abroad: Your doctor or nurse can advise you on what special precautions to take based on your medical history and where you are studying abroad. You may need to go to a special travel health clinic to get clear advice on medical care abroad and what challenges you may face.
Special Needs: If you have any special needs, check with the study abroad administrator to determine how he/she can best help you. Regulations for accessibility may not be similar or existent in other countries as they are in the U.S. Check to determine if accommodations, like wheelchair ramps, are provided in all modes of transportation and to determine if the housing facilities are equipped to serve people with special needs.
Availability of Medical Care: The type of medical care available will vary from country to country. In some countries it will seem similar to the type of care you find in the U.S. In others, finding an English speaking doctor or appropriate medical facility might be difficult. You should ask your program sponsor whether they can provide advice on available medical care and support abroad.
Support Services for Medical Care: Ask your program staff about their capability to provide you with medical care assistance. Does this staff speak both the local language and English? Do they have a list of the best available local medical facilities? Also, find out if someone in the staff or administration is trained to handle emergency situations.
Prescriptions: If you require prescription medications while abroad, you will very likely need to verify this requirement with a doctor's note. You may need a specially notarized prescription if the pharmacy you go to does not recognize U.S. prescriptions. You may also need to have your prescription translated into the language of your destination country in order to have it filled properly. Let your doctor know that you intend to travel abroad so that he/she can provide the appropriate documentation you will need to fill the prescription while away from home. Also, tell your program provider about your medical needs so that they can give you more detailed information on what you might require while abroad.
What Insurance Covers: Know exactly what is and is not covered by your insurance plan. For example, high-risk sports injuries, dental care, and optical care are sometimes not covered by basic medical insurance. Also, if certain pre-existing conditions are excluded, check on the exact definition of "pre-existing."
Insurance Provided By Program Sponsor: Some programs include insurance as part of their program fee and have pre-planned insurance arrangements for their participants. Purchasing their insurance may make it easier for the program staff to assist you while abroad. However, you should still look closely at the limitations in its coverage.
If the program does not offer insurance, and/or you think the program insurance is not sufficient, you should consider purchasing additional travel/study abroad insurance.
Other Aspects to Consider: These include the financial limits of coverage, whether your insurance applies during independent travel or vacation, what countries it includes, whether evacuation and repatriation is included, the policy’s start and end dates, and whether you will have to pay first for treatment and be reimbursed later by your insurance company.