Why is Health Insurance Required?
Federal and state laws require that international students maintain adequate health insurance while attending the University of Washington. While many other countries bear the expense of health care for their residents, individuals in the United States are responsible for these expenses themselves. A single day of hospitalization can cost thousands of dollars. A good insurance policy gives you access to excellent medical facilities and provides protection against the enormous costs of health care in the U.S.
UW International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP)
All matriculated international students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to purchase the UW International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP). Review the details of the plan carefully, including the effective dates of coverage. We advise you to purchase this insurance for the entire year so that you will be covered whether or not you are enrolled each quarter.
If you arrive in the U.S. before the effective date of the UW insurance plan, you should buy supplemental insurance to cover you during the uninsured period. Make every effort to be insured during your entire stay in the U.S., including your vacation quarters and after graduation if you stay for a period of Optional Practical Training or Academic Training.
Hall Health Center
The University of Washington maintains a professionally staffed Hall Health Center, conveniently located on the UW campus, to provide treatment for basic medical conditions for current UW students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. It does not, however, provide major surgery, major illness or overnight care. Hall Health accepts ISHIP, and you receive benefits by going to Hall Health that are not available in other medical care facilities. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. Twenty-four hour care is available at several nearby hospitals, including the University of Washington Medical Center. For life-threatening emergencies, dial 911 on any telephone.
Contact the Health Insurance Counselor
Questions about the International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP)? Contact:
Mr. Chris Dessert
Hall Health Center: Wellness Resource Center, Room 187B
Eligibility to Waive the ISHIP Requirement
The requirement that you purchase the UW International Student Health Insurance Plan may be waived only if you meet certain eligibility criteria and you have comparable insurance that is valid in the U.S. Only students who fit into one of the following categories are eligible for an insurance waiver:
- Exchange or “Visiting” student attending UW through an official exchange program sponsored either by a UW academic department or the UW Study Abroad Office.
- Student funded by government scholarship, either from home government or U.S. government.
- Student receiving health insurance benefits provided by the U.S. employer of his or her parent, spouse, or domestic partner.
- Student enrolled at UW but doing research outside the U.S.
- Student working in the U.S. and receiving health insurance benefits through his or her employer.
The insurance must provide a monetary minimum of $200,000 or more per medical condition per policy year, medical evacuation (at least $10,000) and repatriation of remains (at least $7,500).
J-1 students must meet separate minimum insurance requirements set by the U.S. Department of State.
How to Apply to Waive ISHIP
- Sign up for ISHIP through MyUW when you enroll for your quarterly classes. ISHIP cannot waive the insurance requirement (remove ISHIP from your account) until after you sign up for ISHIP.
- Submit a waiver request by 1:00pm the day of the tuition deadline (third friday of the quarter). Remember: your application is a request. It is not guaranteed. If you do not meet the eligibility criteria, your request will be denied and you will be required to pay for the ISHIP coverage. Waiver requests can only be processed for the upcoming/current quarter, not for previous quarters.
- Check your tuition account to confirm that the ISHIP charge is removed from your account.
- Students with Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP) coverage: if you enroll in GAIP, it will automatically replace the ISHIP plan. You do not need to submit an insurance waiver request to ISS.
For health insurance waiver inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
J-1 Insurance Requirements
As a J-1 Exchange Visitor, you and your J-2 dependents are required to have sickness and accident insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, for the duration of your J-1 program. This is a U.S. federal law. (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 22 Section 62.14)
Willful failure to have insurance is a violation of this law and could result in termination of your J-1 status.
Minimum coverage must provide:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- Medical evacuation to your home country in the amount of $50,000
The insurance policy:
- May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions which is reasonable as determined by current industry standards
- May include provision for co-insurance (co-pay) up to 25 % of the covered benefits per accident or illness
- Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participate
Any policy, plan, or contract secured to fulfill the above requirements must, at minimum, be:
Underwritten by an insurance corporation having:
A. an A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above;
B. a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims- paying Ability rating of ‘‘A-” or above;
C. a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ‘‘B+’’ or above;
D. a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of “A-“ or above;
E. a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ‘‘A3’’ or above; or
- Be backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; or
- Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor;
- Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Be aware that you and any accompanying J-2 spouse and dependent(s) also may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
If you are eligible and plan to waive the UW ISHIP coverage, you must ensure that your alternate health insurance plan meets all minimum requirements above.
Statement of Compliance
You must submit a J-1 Insurance Requirement Statement of Compliance when you report to campus and submit photocopies of your immigration documents. For instructions about when and where to submit copies of your immigration documents and Statement of Compliance, review our New Student Post-Arrival Checklist.
J-1 Insurance Summary Step-By-Step:
- All J-1 students must review the mandatory insurance requirements described above.
- All J-1 students must complete the J-1 Insurance Requirement Statement of Compliance.
- All J-1 students must sign up for the UW International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP) in order to register for classes (with the possibility of then waiving/cancelling the ISHIP coverage later). If you meet the criteria described above to waive the ISHIP coverage, you must submit the insurance waiver request according to the instructions above.
Other Insurance Plans
If you qualify for a waiver (see exemption categories above) from ISHIP insurance and are required to carry health insurance as part of your status as an international student in the US, it is important to consider the type of coverage that will be needed and who will be included on the plan. Policy costs vary depending on coverage. For example, some policies exclude coverage of pregnancies, or coverage for care received in your home country. Before choosing a plan, carefully consider your personal and family health needs and weigh them against each insurance option. Some policies are listed for consideration below.
Coverage during Optional Practical Training (OPT) year: if you are researching plans for insurance coverage during your OPT year, be sure to consult the insurance company to see if they provide coverage during OPT. Some companies only provide coverage while you are a registered student.
Note that the UW maintains no association with the companies listed. You are responsible for procuring and maintaining suitable health insurance and for any required correspondence.
- Gateway USA
- Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)
- Compass Benefits Group
- ISO Student Health Insurance
To review a policy that provides medical evacuation and repatriation benefits only, visit International SOS