Staying healthy in the United States includes knowing how to plan for your healthcare needs ahead of time. This page will help define health insurance coverage in the U.S. and provide you with resources you may contact depending on your healthcare needs.
Overview Heading link
Why health insurance is important in the U.S.
Health insurance coverage in the U.S. may be very different from what you are used to at home. In the U.S., there is no national healthcare or insurance system. Healthcare in the U.S. is primarily privatized and people obtain insurance from: their employers, their college/university (if students), directly from an insurance company, or from the government (military veterans affairs).
Payment for healthcare is expected at the time of service (when you go to the doctor) so it’s very important to have your health insurance policy secured before you need to seek medical attention.
Different types of health insurance
The term ‘health insurance’ is a broad reference to indicate insurance for services that cover healthcare needs. In detail, ‘health insurance’ includes: major medical coverage, dental coverage, and vision coverage, to name a few.
You may become aware of some state-sponsored programs (in Illinois, some examples are AllKids, Moms and Babies) that offer benefits to permanent residents of Illinois. We would encourage you to reconsider applying for certain state-funded benefits as these are intended for permanent residents of the state of Illinois.
Choosing the right health insurance coverage for you
Ask yourself a few questions before you begin researching insurance companies and selecting a policy to purchase:
- Do you require coverage for routine visits and emergency care, or just emergency care?
- Are you a J-1 Exchange Visitor and need your coverage to meet certain requirements?
- Do you have an existing medical condition for which you will need treatment for during your stay in the U.S.?
- How much of a monthly premium can you afford?
- What is the deductible? (the amount you are required to pay up front before the insurance company will pay)
- What is the required co-payment?
- Do you need individual or family coverage?
- Do you need prescription medication coverage?
- What is the maximum coverage of the plan? Is there a daily limit on the coverage?
Common U.S. health insurance terms Heading link
|Health Insurance Term||Definition|
|Premium||The amount of money you pay for your insurance coverage.|
|Co-Insurance||Your share of the costs of a covered healthcare service, typically calculated as a percentage.|
|Co-payment||The set amount that you must pay each time for a particular service, such as a doctor visit.|
|Deductible||An amount you could owe during a coverage period (usually one year) for covered healthcare services before your insurance plan begins to pay.|
|In-Network||A doctor or hospital that is within the network of your insurance company. They have negotiated lower costs with these providers, so you will pay less.|
|Out of Network||Doctors that are not on an approved list with your insurance company. You may pay higher co-pays and have higher costs if you use these providers|
|Exclusions||are benefits that are not paid for by your insurance company|
|Pre-existing Condition||any medical problem that was already diagnosed or that existed prior to purchasing your health insurance|
|Pre-Authorization||is the approval you must obtain from your insurance company prior to getting treatment for non-emergency care|
Health insurance options for international students Heading link
CampusCare Student Health Benefit Program
All UIC students registered for at least one class charging tuition and fees during the fall, spring, and summer terms are automatically enrolled in CampusCare, the University’s student health benefit program. CampusCare provides affordable coverage for a wide variety of medial services for students and their eligible dependents. Visit the CampusCare website for more information on the program coverage dates and fees and covered medical services.
If you do not wish to remain enrolled in CampusCare, you may waive out of the program by providing proof of your private insurance coverage that meets UIC and State of Illinois requirements. Please visit the CampusCare website for details on waiver deadlines and requirements.
Summer CampusCare coverage for graduating and non-enrolled students
If you were covered by CampusCare during the spring semester, you may be eligible to extend your coverage through the summer, even if you have graduated or are not enrolled in classes at UIC. Please see the CampusCare website for information on summer coverage.
If you are no longer eligible for CampusCare coverage and plan to remain in the U.S., you must secure alternate health insurance coverage. If you are hired by a U.S. employer under authorized practical training, that employer may offer health insurance coverage as an employee benefit. However, if your employer does not offer health insurance, or if you anticipate a gap in coverage between your time as a student and the start of your job, you may need to purchase your own coverage on the private market. Unfortunately, OIS cannot recommend one insurance company over another.
Health insurance options for J-1 Exchange Visitors Heading link
If you are sponsored by UIC in J-1 Exchange Visitor status (as a student or scholar) you must ensure your insurance coverage meets J-1 EV requirements. Please note that CampusCare coverage for students and UIC Health Insurance policies for UIC employees alone do not meet all of the J-1 EV requirements.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Students
If you are an enrolled UIC student, please ensure your health insurance coverage meets J-1 EV requirements. CampusCare alone does not meet the requirement and students covered by this program will need to secure their own supplemental policies to cover the gaps, namely for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. If you decide to forego CampusCare and use your own private health insurance, you must waive out of CampusCare by their stated deadlines. Please note that submitting evidence of your health insurance coverage to OIS during the Immigration Check-in process does not constitute a CampusCare waiver.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Scholars
If you are a UIC employee in a benefits-eligible position, please ensure you purchase supplemental insurance coverage that includes Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains coverage to meet the J-1 EV requirements.