Understanding Health Insurance in the United States

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For international students and scholars, having a health insurance is extremely important. Learn more about health insurance and International Student Protection, a trusted provider of health insurance to international students.


Healthcare in the United States is very expensive compared to other countries. It might cost you thousands of dollars for emergency medical care. For international students and scholars, having a health insurance is extremely important because it can protect you from the extraordinary medical costs from illnesses and accidents that no one can predict.

Most of the colleges and universities in the United States have insurance requirements for International students. Some schools offer students insurance policies and some schools require students to purchase the insurance through insurance companies.

By purchasing your school’s insurance policy, you do not need to worry about the coverage since the dates are usually coordinated with the academic calendar, and you can easily get a preferred provider on or off campus to cut down the costs. However, there are usually more options from insurance companies, such as International Student Protection (ISP), especially when you need specific Insurance for your personal need. But always make sure that the insurance you purchase meets the school’s requirements.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to request help or information from Student Health Services (SHS) on campus or directly from the insurance companies. It is extremely important for you to read through the details of the insurance policies.

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It was my second year in the United States when I chipped my front tooth in an accident. I went to the Student Health Services (SHS) on campus, showed the receptionist my insurance card, and met with a nurse, who suggest me take a Tetanus Shot and visit an off-campus dental center later to get further treatment.

After I got a Tetanus shot, the nurse wrote me a written transcription of medication which I obtained at the SHS pharmacy. The Tetanus shot was $79 and the prescription charge was $80, but because the SHS was a preferred provider under the insurance company, both of the charges were reduced. I only paid $10 for the prescription and the insurance covered the rest.

Total Charges I Paid Insurance Covered
Office Visit 0 0 0
Tetanus Shot 79 0 79
Prescription 80 10 70
TOTAL $159 $10 $149

About a week later, I went to the off-campus dental center to get my chipped front tooth replaced. After a two-month treatment, I could finally smile with my mouth open again. But since my insurance didn’t cover the dental part, I had to pay the total cost all by myself.

Total Dental Cost: $4,980

Price Breakdown: dental examination, dental x-ray, root canal, crown materials and treatment, dental implant and other associated expenses.


  • SHS: Student Health Services. The campus health service center that usually provides medical care only to students and scholars at a low cost.
  • INSURANCE CARD: A card provided by the insurance company with important information on. The insured individual must present it when treatment is requested.
  • PREFERRED PROVIDER: An insurance company’s list of providers who are fully licensed and offer the same type and quality of care as other providers who have agreed to provide care at special contracted rates. (NAFSA <Medical Insurance> pg 19.)


Due to the low air pressure, Michelle felt uncomfortable and could hardly breathe when she was in the class, and had to be sent to the hospital. She had been in the United States for almost 2 years, but unfortunately, she forgot to renew her health insurance this time. It was lapsed couple months before the emergency happened.

“I actually felt a lot better when I arrived at the hospital. The doctor asked me a couple questions and sent me to the x-ray. I didn’t really get any other treatment, and guess how much I was charged at the end? $10,000!” Said Michelle, “I was going to get a real heart attack when I received the bill and I couldn’t find any insurance companies to help me out regarding to this preexisting condition. “

Luckily, Michelle’s family helped her fix the financial problem at the end.


  • RENEW: You have to continue paying your premium in order to prevent it from expiring. Always pay attention to the expiration date and keep your insurance active.
  • LAPSE: “Lapse” simply means “ends”. If you stop paying your premium or forgot renewing your plans, your insurance or coverage will end.
  • PREEXISTING CONDITION: A medical condition that existed before an insurance policy was purchased, whether the insured individual knew about the condition or not. Insurance policies have typically excluded preexisting conditions or required a waiting period of a year or more to cover them, but recent legislation has eliminated these practices in some cases. (NAFSA <Medical Insurance> pg19.)

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International Student Protection (ISP) works with several hundred colleges, universities, language schools, and other institutions to offer mandatory, hard-waiver, and voluntary plans. With their low costs and backing by “A” rated insurance carriers, ISP is a trustworthy insurance company for international students to choose.

Currently, ISP offers six different insurance plans for eligible international students and scholars studying in the U.S. and provides specific programs to each college and university. The new 2015 plan is called Trail Blazer Elite, which offers a benefit of $600,000 per accident or sickness, and prescription coverage for oral contraceptives. At the same time, ISP is now able to offer plans through United HealthCare that are compatible with the Affordable Care Act.

Some international students have trouble finding an insurance plan to meet their needs. But it is no longer a problem with ISP, as Jim Bueno, Senior Account Executive of ISP noticed “ISP offers personalized service which can design and implement customized insurance programs for many schools throughout the U.S. to meet the unique needs of the students and university partners quickly and thoroughly.” ISP simply distinguishes itself from other providers with its personalized service.  “Furthermore, members contacting our claims department are quickly connected with a live customer service representative, who can assist them with their claims and benefits questions. Members can also access their claims, generate a new ID card, or view their plan information online via their secure account 24 hours a day.”

As we all know the dental expense is extremely expensive in the U.S. Unfortunately most of the insurance companies do not offer dental or vision plans to international students. But Jim said they are hoping to have these options available by Spring Semester 2016.

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Visit www.intlstudentprotection.com today!


chuchu xu_640x480Chuchu Xu

ISV Ambassador

Home Country: China




  • NAFSA <Medical Insurance>
  • ISP Website

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