For those who are allowed the flexibility in selecting a health care plan, most students seek plans that are affordable, yet can meet their school’s waiver requirements. Most schools in the U.S. have specific waiver requirements, such as specific coverage for lifetime maximum, deductible and/or co-payment. Services such pre-existing condition and wellness and preventative care coverage might make the plan more appealing, yet it also makes the premium a lot higher. To most international students, they come to the U.S. with one goal in mind—to obtain knowledge. Therefore, if they need to pay extra for services that go way beyond their needs, it only becomes another financial burden for them and their family.
Service vs. Cost
According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing report, students spend up to $9,000 for room and board, $1,200 on books and supplies, $2,000 on personal expenses and $1,000 on transportation on an annual basis. These fees are solely for cost of living and do not include the actual tuition. Sri Charan, who attends the University of South Florida, said living expenses can cost up to $1500 per month for him. Therefore, when faced with a $2000 charge for health insurance from his school, he described that as being “really pricey” for an international student. Therefore, any additional fee for students, especially students from abroad, can seem like an extraneous expense that they might not be able to afford.
As a result, most international students want to find a balance between cost and coverage when it comes to health insurance, since few of them go to doctors on a regular basis and even fewer require supplementary services such as intercollegiate sports. Furthermore, many international students do not seek treatments unless it becomes a case of emergency Dorian from Kutztown University said, “I want an insurance that covers me for big problems, just to be sure that I do not have to spend thousands of dollars in case of emergency.”
Mandatory school plans
Currently, a big problem that many international students are facing is not being able to waive out of their school’s health care plan, since some schools have strict waiver requirements. Some students must meet one of the following requirements to waive out of their school’s plan—government sponsored, employer sponsored or covered under the parents’ insurance plan—which is hard to achieve for international students. With these tight restrictions, one can’t help but raise the question of why is it that schools are pushing students into their health insurance plans? The answer: convenience. According to the director of ISSO (International Student Services Office) for Oakland University, he labels it as: “… a huge hassle for the school when students have multiple [insurance] plans.”
What do students really seek for?
Therefore, unlike their U.S. classmates, many international students do not have the option to opt out of the school’s plan. According to Dorian, “The price, if the plan meets the school requirements, and if it covers serious problems,” is what he is looking for in an insurance plan. Similar to Dorian, most international students are not seeking for comprehensive plans like the ones they may have in their home country. Instead, they want a plan with medium coverage at a cost that they can afford.
Fortunately, companies such as ISO Health Insurance, is working with universities across the country to create plans that will not only meet their requirements, but also make them more affordable. Laura from University of South Florida said, “My school recommended ISO to me, and I haven’t had any problems when I went for treatments.” She then added, “It’s really easy for me!” There is nothing more important than staying healthy when you are abroad. With ISO International Student Health Insurance, students are able to have affordable health care plans that will meet there school’s unique requirements.