In general, there are not so many options, and not all of them are suitable for foreign students. But their number with the reform increased:
Staying medical insurance of your parents. Obamacare allows a child to be on the parenting plan until he is 26 years old, so most students can use this option. Unfortunately, this is not available for those whose parents do not live in the United States.
Buy medical insurance from the university. This opportunity was available even before Obamacare and was the only way for foreign students. Most often, such plans are relatively inexpensive. It was necessary to pay (except for the plan) for drugs, tests, X-rays, etc., but that was not the full amount, but co-pay. Although, of course, it all depends on the insurance plan. The advantage of this option is that the cost of insurance is added to the cost of the study, that is, if you take a loan for study, insurance can be included in this loan.
Buy Obamacare subsidized insurance. You can now buy insurance through the so-called Exchanges. This can be done not only by Americans but also by foreigners staying on nonimmigrant visas – student or working. So this is an additional and new option for international students. Check out the state Exchanges site where you are going to study – suddenly insurance will be cheaper than a university plan?
Buy ‘catastrophic’ insurance (emergency insurance). This insurance is much cheaper, but it requires you to pay the full amount for treatment up to a certain limit (most often several thousand dollars), if the annual medical expenses exceed this amount, the insurance company will start paying. Unfortunately, this option is available only for those who do not reach 30 years old (there are exceptions for people older if they are in a difficult financial situation), and such insurance can hit your pocket because not every student can afford to pay, $6,000 for treatment, if necessary.
Get Medicaid insurance. This is an opportunity for Americans or residents from low-income families. If your household’s income is less than 133% of the official poverty level, you can apply for Medicaid (free public health insurance). 133% of the poverty level for 2014 is an income of no more than $15.281 per year for one person, $20.921 per year for a family consisting of 2 people, $26.321 per year for a family of three, $31.721 for a family of four.
Stay without insurance. The rule of “compulsory insurance for all” has its exceptions, for example, religious beliefs, or belonging to an Indian tribe (there are 8 such exceptions, plus 14 exceptions for those in a difficult financial situation). But this option is not available to foreign students. In order for a foreigner to be accepted into an American university, he must have medical insurance.