health insurance for international students

Health Insurance for International Students

Going abroad for higher studies is becoming more and more popular. Sure, the Coronavirus may have temporarily stopped many students from visiting and attending their dream college. But this is not permanent. Many students are waiting for travel restrictions to lift so they can reach their dorm rooms as soon as they can. Others are counting the days to their visa interviews. 

However, no matter whether you are just planning to study abroad or have already been selected, there is one thing you have to consider and that is your health insurance. When people plan about going abroad for their studies, they think about rent, plane tickets, tuition fees, socializing etc. However, an important aspect to consider is researching well for your health insurance. Finding a policy is a lot like finding the perfect university for you. You must consider the returns and the risks too.

Would I be even able to afford it at all? Think about it like this; a degree from a very good university can be heavy on your pockets. However, this degree can help you a lot too. It can perhaps help you to stay back in a foreign country and get a local residence permit. It can help you live a problem-free life too. Similarly, a good policy may not always come cheap. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about health insurance. 

  • Your plan should be for you; i.e. customized to your needs

Plans based on your Activities and Interests

If you are a student-athlete, you may need better coverage than what common plans offer. You should get the sports plan offered by many companies. These plans will consider your needs. Your needs can be different if you are an athlete, so do keep that in mind. 

Language and Ease of Communication

If English is not your first language, you should probably choose an insurer that understands this. Try to find an insurer with a helpline in the language you’re comfortable with. 

Overall Budget

If you are on a tight budget, there are plenty of plans for you too! Some plans can cost you as little as US$35 or even less per month! And these plans can provide good coverage too. If you have a bigger budget, you’ll obviously be able to afford a plan with more benefits. Extra money can even cover the eye and dental costs! You should opt for a plan according to your budget and needs. After all, your plan may be the only thing to protect you in a foreign land.

  • Talk to your college counselor; Actively seek advice and suggestions

Guidance Counselor

Talking to a representative of your college is a must. And not just for getting health insurance! But yes, while buying a policy, it can prove to be very helpful. Your counselor is there to help you solve all your problems. Try discussing all your doubts with them. 

Ask them if you’re College / University has any special requirements for their student’s health insurance. This is definitely one of the things you must inquire about. Please do that well before buying the policy. After all, you don’t want to buy a policy only to find it useless later on. 

You can also ask your counselor for suggestions. They would definitely know the most popular options among students just like you. 

Also, ask them about the cancellation policy and any other terms about which you must know before buying the policy.

Learn from the experience of other students

Experience is a great teacher but it has a cost. It is best to learn from the experience of others where possible. Another good idea can be to contact alumni or your seniors. They might have faced the same problems as you. Their personal experience can really help you avoid the mistakes they could have made. 

Also, ask your friends about the policy they have. Compare yours with these policies and see which one might be better for you.

  • Do your research and choose the right insurer

Research

When it comes to buying health insurance, research is very important. You will be in a country where you might know very few people. There can be any problem and you’ll have to face it alone. So let research be your best friend. Know all there is to know about your plan. You should know your policy terms and conditions. You should know what your plan covers and what it does not. This can save you from spending money you don’t have.

Review the insurer through reviews

A good idea would be to read the reviews of the plan you want to buy. The reviews may help you see the problems faced due to the plan. Or, the good that can come out of it! However, just knowing about the plan is not enough. Know about the insurer too. Are they trustworthy? Do they easily settle claims? Are they always available for you? These are just some of the things your insurer should do for you. Sometimes, talking to agents can give you the wrong idea as their focus is more on making a sale. There is not real alternative to spending time and doing your research before trusting anyone else.

Another thing that can certainly help you in times of crisis is to have some extra money saved up. You can also categorize the money you save. This is not just an insurance tip either! Save some for medical emergencies, rent, accidents, etc. What if remittances get delayed? This could make a mess of your finances and your landlord could put pressure on you. I would suggest saving somewhere by setting aside $1000 to $2000 in an easily accessible emergency fund. This amount can come in really handy! After all, no one can know when misfortune will strike. All we can do is prepare for them. This money can also be used if your insurer refuses to settle your claim due to any reason. 

Finding the perfect student health plan can be hard. But I promise you, it’ll all be worth it in the end. All the research and reading that you will do now will definitely pay off later. Just like your college degree. 

Of course, no one wants to think about gloomy situations. However, if you start planning now, nothing will be able to hurt you in the future. Having a good insurance plan will help you stay away from easily avoidable hospital bills. After all, no one wants to shell out hundreds of dollars just for a minor emergency. 

If you still feel like health policies are a waste of hard-earned money, you should read more about the health care system of the country you’re going to. For example, in the US, which is one of the most popular student destinations, health care can be very costly. Same is the case with most of the European countries too. 

Hospitals can charge you steep bills just for a few days stay. No one wants to be in debt for months just because of a simple healthcare necessity. To save your money and better your future, I would suggest investing in these plans. A little money now can go a long way tomorrow. 

In conclusion, this process may seem confusing and tricky at first. But just go for it! For some universities, your health insurance may be as important as your visa! So plan ahead to avoid any last-minute surprises as health is the last surprise you want when you are pursuing a touch course in an alien land.

FAQs: Health Insurance for International Students

I asked about premium rates and they're very costly. I'll only ever need my policy in case of emergencies, should I still get one?

Premium amounts can seem expensive and unnecessary. However, it is only in the face of difficulties that you might realize their importance. Today's world is full of uncertainty. CVDs and Cancer can happen to seemingly healthy people. Then there are accidents beyond your control. Accident rates keep on increasing and illnesses don't have an age limit, anymore. In such a world, these plans can be a meaningful investment. Your health plan may not only help you during emergencies but also before and beyond them. I would suggest paying a little money now, to avoid paying a lot later on!

I am an international student studying in the US. I want to know if buying health insurance will help.

Not only will it help you when you reach there, but it may also help you reach there. Sometimes it can be as important as your visa. Your university may have many requirements from your health insurance, so do check if there are any that you don't know about. Most universities insist on full health cover even before you land in that country. Moreover, buying a good health plan can protect you from sky-high hospital bills. They can make your stay easier and help you avoid unnecessary expenses. They may also cover vision and dental, although that totally depends on your plan. Going to a new country can be exciting. But it can also be very confusing and scary. You may not have many people to help you there. So I would advise you to invest in a good policy that is best suited for you and your needs.

I live a rather unhealthy lifestyle. Recently I have noticed that I have completely stopped exercising and also gained a lot of weight. I feel that my way of life is taking a toll on my heart. Would buying health insurance secure my family if something were to happen to me?

I understand your concern. Leading an active and healthy life can be tough, especially in today's hectic world. I would suggest you take care of your health. Also, buying health insurance can help. But if you specifically fear heart damage, I would advise you to also look into heart insurance. These policies are specially designed for heart-related conditions. Sometimes, health insurance proves to be insufficient to cover the cost of treating heart conditions. These policies may also act as life insurance to help your family. I would also advise you to consult a doctor if your problems persist.

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