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.

All matriculated international students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to purchase the UW International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP). Please review the details of the plan carefully, including the effective dates of coverage. We urge 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 during this 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.

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. 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.

Waiver Eligibility

The requirement that you purchase the UW Student Health Insurance Plan may be waived only if you meet certain eligibility criteria and 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 Office of International Programs & Exchanges.
  • Student funded by his or her government, or the 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 minimum insurance requirements set by the U.S. Department of State.)

How to Apply for a Waiver

To request an insurance waiver, submit a waiver request by 1:00pm of the tuition deadline (third friday of the quarter).

Note: We are only able to process waiver requests for the current quarter that the UW is currently in session for. Please submit a waiver request for the current quarter only.

If you hold a graduate Research or Teaching Assistant appointment, you may be eligible for the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP). If you enroll in GAIP, it will automatically replace the Student Health Insurance Plan and you do not need to submit a waiver request form.

For health insurance waiver inquiries, please email inswaive@uw.edu.

J-1 Insurance Requirements

You and your family are required by federal law to have specific amounts of sickness and accident insurance for the duration of your program.

A new rule effective May 15, 2015 changes the minimum coverage requirements for that insurance (as shown below). Incoming exchange visitors, and exchange visitors currently at the University of Washington, must comply with the new rule.

This table compares the insurance coverage figures in the current rule, and the figures in the new rule.

Item Current Rule Final Rule (effective May 15, 2015
Medical benefits $50,000 $100,000
Repatriation of remains $7,500 $25,000
Medical evacuation $10,000 $50,000
Deductible per accident or illness $500 $500

Be aware that you and any accompanying 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 Statement of Compliance with the Insurance Requirements of the Exchange Visitor Program 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.

Contact the Health Insurance Counselor

For questions about ISHIP, please visit our About Us page for the Insurance Counselor's contact information.

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.

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.

To review a policy that provides medical evacuation and repatriation benefits only, visit International SOS