J-1 Visa Health Insurance Requirements

If you are coming to the US on a J-1 Visa, you will need to have personal health insurance. Your insurance will also need to meet the J-1 Visa health insurance requirements. This is a breakdown of those insurance requirements found in the regulations, as well as some common problems and what you can do about them.

Coverage Amounts

  1. Dates of Coverage: You must have coverage for the dates listed on your DS-2019 form
  2. Medical Benefits: For each incident or illness, a minimum of $100,000
  3. Repatriation of Remains: $25,000
  4. Medical Evacuation to your home country: $50,000
  5. Deductible: Can be no more than $500
  6. Pre-Existing Conditions: A reasonable waiting period, determined by current industry standards, may be required.
  7. Co-Insurance: You can not be required to pay more than 25% of the cost of covered benefits per accident or illness
  8. Your policy cannot unreasonably exclude coverage for the activities or risks of your program. Note: This does not necessarily mean that it needs to cover accidents while you go skiing during your finance internship. It does mean, that if your program requires you to go skiing, those activities may need to be covered by your policy.

Underwriter Information

This next section looks more complicated, but can generally be summarized as: How financially stable is the insurance company; and how likely is it they will pay your claim(s) if you have any? Only ONE of the following bullet point requirements must be met:

  • Be underwritten by an insurance corporation having one of the following ratings:
    • A.M. Best rating of “A−” or above
    • McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A−” or above
    • Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B + ” or above
    • Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of “A−” or above
    • Moody’s Investor Services rating of “A3” or above;
    • Such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify
  • Backed by the full faith and credit of your home countries government
These are much less common:
  • Be part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor
  • Be offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

“(e) Federal, state or local government agencies; state colleges and universities; and public community colleges may, if permitted by law, self-insure any or all of the above-required insurance coverage.

(f) At the request of a non-governmental sponsor of an exchange visitor program, and upon a showing that such sponsor has funds readily available and under its control sufficient to meet the requirements of this section, the Department of State may permit the sponsor to self-insure or to accept full financial responsibility for such requirements.

(g) The Department of State may, in its sole discretion, condition its approval of self-insurance or the acceptance of full financial responsibility by the non-governmental sponsor by requiring such sponsor to secure a payment bond in favor of the Department of State guaranteeing the sponsor’s obligations hereunder.

(h) Accompanying spouses and dependents are required to be covered by insurance in the amounts set forth in paragraph (b) of this section. Sponsors must inform exchange visitors of this requirement, in writing, in advance of the exchange visitor’s arrival in the United States.” (Source)

Your sponsor is required to Terminate your J-1 program if you:

  • Willfully fail to maintain adequate insurance coverage for you or your dependents (J-2)
  • Willfully misrepresent your insurance coverage