Skip to main content

Health Care and Insurance

Maintaining your health is important. Health care in the United States is very expensive, which is one of the reasons why the Department of State mandates that all J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents must have specific terms of health insurance for their entire stay in the United States. Not having the insurance, or willfully failing to maintain it, is a deportable offense. For more information on the US health care system, you can view a video on our student page.

  • When scholars arrive for orientation at ISU, they are required to show proof of insurance for themselves and any accompanying family members. This proof must be in English.
  • Scholars should buy their insurance in advance so it is active when they first arrive in the United States.

What Immigration Requires

Here are the specific terms that J-1 scholars' insurance must meet or exceed:

  • $100,000 of coverage per accident or illness (insurance should cover both emergency AND non-emergency illnesses and accidents)
  • “Medical Evacuation” up to $50,000 (to cover transportation costs back to home country in the event of serious illness or injury)
  • “Repatriation of Remains” up to $25,000 (to cover transportation costs back to home country in the event of death)
  • Deductible of no more than $500
  • Covers any pre-existing conditions after a reasonable waiting period
  • Includes provision for co-payment that does not exceed 25% co-pay by the Exchange Visitor
  • Does not exclude benefits for perils inherent to the activities of the Exchange Visitor’s program
  • Must be underwritten by an insurance company that meets the rating requirements of the USIA or is backed by the full faith and credit of the Exchange Visitor’s government

Buying It

J-1 scholars coming to Illinois State have two options:

  1. Buy a U.S.-based plan that meets the immigration requirements.
    • Before arriving at ISU, you may request a list of insurance company websites who work with international scholars from your International Advisor.
  2. Use a policy for your home country as long as it meets or exceed the immigration requirements.
    • Please make sure your policy information is in English.
    • To be sure that your plan meets the J-1 requirements, you are welcome to send details to your International Advisor BEFORE you buy it. This will stop you from spending money on a plan that may not fully meet the immigration requirements.
    • If you send plan information ahead, your advisor will have the Student Health Insurance Office review the plan. If it meets the J-1 regulations, you may use it for your stay at ISU. If not, you will need to make other arrangements.

Cost Considerations

Health insurance for exchange visitors can be expensive: one month of insurance can be over $100. It is even higher when family members accompany the scholar. Most commonly at Illinois State, scholars buy and pay for health insurance themselves.

Scholars Employed by Illinois State

Scholars hired by ISU may be eligible to receive the University’s employee Insurance. For more information, please contact your Human Resources representative at ISU.

Please be aware that the University’s employee health insurance does not meet all of the immigration requirements. J-1s who are hired by Illinois State and choose to use ISU employee health insurance must also purchase an insurance policy that offers Repatriation of Remains and Medical Evacuation. Normally, this kind of plan is not expensive and your International Advisor can offer suggestions.