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J-1 Exchange Students

Medical Insurance Requirement

J-1 regulations require that both the J-1 principal and the J-2 dependents purchase specific types and amounts of medical insurance coverage:

  • The maximum amount of coverage for medical benefits can be no lower than $50,000 for each injury or illness incurred.
  • In the event of the untimely death of the exchange visitor while he/she is in the United States, the insurance policy must provide at least $7,500 in benefits to allow for transport of the remains back to the home country.
  • In the event that the exchange visitor has a serious illness or injury and must return to the home country, there must be insurance coverage of at least $10,000 to cover transportation back to the home country.
  • The out-of-pocket insurance deductible required under the policy cannot exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • The percentage of medical expenses covered by the insurance policy must be at least 75% after the deductible has been paid. Note: Most major medical policies cover 80% of allowed benefits and the policy holder pays the 20% co-insurance.

The J-1 regulations require one of the following industry ratings for insurance companies providing health insurance coverage: A.M. Best rating of “A” or above; Insurance Solvency International Ltd. rating of “A-i” or above; Standard and Poor’s Claim Paying Ability rating of “A” or above; Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above.

It is important for J-1 sponsors to know that due to a technicality in the J-1 regulations, The Mississippi State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan does not meet the J-1 health insurance requirements. Under the J-1 regulations, exchange visitors are required to purchase a health insurance plan with a deductible that does not exceed $500. Since the current deductible under the state plan is now $1,000, it would be inappropriate to offer this plan to exchange visitors. Exchange visitors are encouraged to purchase health coverage from one of the many U.S. companies offering individual plans that meet the J-1 requirements. If a prospective exchange visitor prefers to purchase health coverage in his/her home country and can present evidence satisfactory to the OIS prior to arrival in the United States that the coverage meets the requirements of the exchange visitor program, this will be an acceptable alternative.

Although detailed information regarding the required health insurance coverage will be included with the exchange visitor’s Form DS-2019, the J-1 sponsoring department will also be expected to notify him/her of the required coverage and ensure that the coverage is maintained during the exchange visitor’s participation. A J-1 exchange visitor who willfully fails to maintain the required coverage will be terminated from the exchange visitor program.