J-1 Scholar: Medical Insurance

As a J-1 Scholar at Penn State, you must maintain health insurance that meets federal requirements for yourself and any accompanying J-2 dependents throughout your program.  J-2 Dependents must hold active insurance even when they are not present in the United States.

You must purchase coverage upfront for the entire period of your DS-2019.  There are no exceptions.

J-1 Scholars: Medical Insurance

Key Points About Healthcare in the United States

  • Healthcare in the U.S. is expensive, and there is no national healthcare plan.
  • We strongly recommend carrying insurance that exceeds the minimums above.
  • Failure to maintain the necessary insurance (including for J-2 dependents) will result in termination of your exchange program.

 

What are the requirements?

All J-1 Visa holders and accompanying J-2 dependents must have medical insurance meeting the U.S. Department of State minimum requirements:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness*
  • Medical evacuation coverage of $50,000 or more
  • Repatriation of remains coverage of $25,000 or more
  • A deductible not exceeding $500 per accident or illness.

*To meet the regulations, "per accident or illness" must be explicitly stated for medical benefits.

 

How do I meet the requirement?

When it comes to insurance, there are three types of scholars at Penn State.  Find your category below to learn how to meet the insurance requirement.

 

CATEGORY 1: EMPLOYEES OF PENN STATE WITH OFFERED BENEFITS

If you have been offered employee health insurance benefits, you need two types of insurance:

  1. Major Medical: Enroll in the Highmark Lion Traditional PPO plan via Penn State's HR portal, Workday, upon your arrival in the United States.
  2. Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains: You must purchase separate coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation, as it is not included in the Highmark Lion Traditional policy.

 

You have multiple purchasing options including policies from: ISO, WorldTrips, and Trawick.

Ensure coverage aligns with the entirety of your program (DS-2019 dates) and includes all J-2 dependents. Save a PDF of your confirmation of coverage, including:

  • Your name and your J-2 dependents' names
  • Coverage dates that match the length of your J-1 Program
  • Coverage amounts in U.S. dollars

You will report your insurance provider and policy number(s) in iStart.

 

CATEGORY 2: PURCHASING PENN STATE STUDENT HEALTH PLAN

If you require insurance coverage and plan to utilize University Health Services on campus, you must buy SHIP for Penn State.  The plan includes major medical insurance and medical evacuation and repatriation benefits. 

ESTIMATED SHIP for Penn State cost: daily: $10.20 per person; annually: $3700 per person

University Health Services does not offer medical care for children.  You must seek medical care for children off-campus.

SHIP for Penn State follows the academic year cycle (August 13 to August 12).  Therefore, at this time, you cannot purchase insurance beyond August 12.

For instance, if your program starts on August 1, 2024, you'll need to purchase two plans: one from August 1 to August 12, 2024, and another from August 13, 2024, to your program's end date or August 12, 2025, whichever is earlier.

Ensure coverage aligns with the entirety of your program (DS-2019 dates) and includes all J-2 dependents. Save a PDF of your confirmation of coverage, including:

  • Your name and your J-2 dependents' names
  • Coverage dates that match the length of your J-1 Program
  • Coverage amounts in U.S. dollars

You will report your insurance provider and policy number(s) in iStart.

 

 

CATEGORY 3:  SCHOLAR WITH THIRD-PARTY INSURANCE POLICY

If you seek a cost-effective option and are open to off-campus medical care, you can purchase insurance from another company, provided it meets U.S. Department of State requirements.

This alternative, termed an insurance waiver, exempts you from purchasing the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan. Choose wisely, as once you opt for the waiver, you cannot later purchase the Penn State plan, such as in the case of pregnancy.

Explore J-1 Scholar insurance plans from companies like IMG, ISO, Student Medicover, Tai'An, Trawick, and WorldTrips.  Not all plans from these companies meet minimum requirements, so choose carefully.

To meet federal insurance requirements, your policy must explicitly state per accident or illness for medical coverage on the insurance policy.

Ensure coverage aligns with the entirety of your program (DS-2019 dates) and includes all J-2 dependents. Save a PDF of your confirmation of coverage, including:

  • Your name and your J-2 dependents' names
  • Coverage dates that match the length of your J-1 Program
  • Coverage amounts in U.S. dollars

You will report your insurance provider and policy number(s) in iStart.

 

What if I still have questions?

International J-1 Scholar Advising cannot answer any questions about your insurance coverage.  

CATEGORY 1 =  For major medical through Highmark Lion Traditional, contact Penn State Benefits at (814) 865-1473 for questions.  For medical evacuation and repatriation, contact the Customer Service team of your insurance provider.

CATEGORY 2 = For questions about SHIP for Penn State, contact United HealthCare Student Resources (UHCSR) Customer Service. Unfortunately, we are not UHCSR employees and cannot help you.

CATEGORY 3 = For questions, contact the Customer Service team of your insurance provider.