Are you covered?

Medical treatment in the US is excellent but can be expensive. All students attending UC are required to have health insurance and are automatically enrolled in their UC campus plan. The cost of insurance is applied to your student billing account. Insurance coverage and costs vary by campus. Depending on your medical history and medical needs, you may want to purchase supplemental insurance. See Campus Specific Instructions for information about campus insurance plans.

UC health insurance meets the J-1 visa program insurance requirements.

Health Insurance Exemption Request (Waiver)

To be covered under a plan other than the UC campus plan, you must request a waiver (exemption) from the requirement within the announced deadlines. Review your host UC campus requirements to ensure that your insurance from home meets all waiver criteria. A campus-specific waiver request along with proof of enrollment in the alternative insurance plan must be submitted for review to the campus by the posted deadline.

Waiver is not automatic: Do not assume that a waiver will be approved. Purchase of the UC insurance plan is a UC requirement. Budget for this expense.


Plan to have health insurance that covers you from the time of your departure through the start date of your UC insurance plan. Buy travel insurance for any time when you will be in the US prior to the start date of your UC insurance.


In accordance with the J visa regulations minimum coverage must provide:

  1. Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness.
  2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000.
  3. Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000.
  4. Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Insurance policies secured to fulfill the requirements of this section:

  1. May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable as determined by current industry standards.
  2. May include provisions for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness.
  3. Must not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.

Any policy, plan or contract secured to fulfill the above requirements must, at a minimum, be:

  1. Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of "B+" or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of "A-" or above; a Moody's Investor Services rating of "A3" or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
  2. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country.

Here are some points to consider when planning your insurance needs. Check your parents' homeowners or rental insurance policy coverage to see if can be used while on exchange.

Before you purchase insurance in the US, make sure that the insurance company is licensed by the California Department of Insurance. Contact several companies to compare premiums (costs).

Personal Property

Accidental damage is the number one cause of computer loss. Theft is number two. Consider purchasing insurance for items, such as laptops and other electronics before departure. If you purchase items in California, consider buying personal property insurance immediately after purchase.

Renters Insurance

Your property owner’s insurance policy will not cover your losses due to theft, damage or if you are sued by someone who claims to have been injured in your rental due to your carelessness. Consider renters insurance to cover your property and prepare for the unexpected.

Auto Insurance

Every car owner and driver in California must be covered by a motor vehicle insurance policy. This insurance may be more expensive if you do not have a US driver’s license. Costs depend on a variety of factors including but not limited to your age, location and driver history.

Insurance has a special vocabulary. This glossary can help you better understand common terms associated with medical care and insurance plans.

  • Ancillary Services: Services provided by healthcare providers other than a physician, such as laboratory, radiology or other diagnostic imaging, physical therapy or other services.
  • Benefit Year: The time period, usually the academic year, used to determine when you satisfy your annual deductible, benefit maximums, if any, and annual out-of-pocket maximum.
  • Coinsurance: The portion of a medical service you’re responsible for. For example, you might pay 20% of the cost for a particular service, and the insurance company or plan will pick up the tab for the remaining 80%.
  • Copayment: The flat fee you pay for covered services, usually due at the time you receive care. For example, you might pay a $15 copay to see a primary care doctor or specialist.
  • Coverage Period: The period during which a student and his or her covered dependents are eligible for coverage and receive the benefits of his/her plan.
  • Deductible: The amount you have to pay toward medical costs before UC SHIP starts paying part of the bill.
  • Emergency: An illness, injury, symptom or condition so serious that a reasonable person would seek care right away to avoid severe harm or death.
  • Inpatient: A patient who is admitted to the hospital.
  • Maximum Allowed Amount: The total reimbursement payable under your plan for covered services you receive from in-network and out-of-network providers. It is the claims administrator’s payment toward the services billed by your provider, combined with any deductible or coinsurance you may owe. If you receive services from an out-of-network provider, the provider will bill you the difference, if any, between their charges and the maximum allowed amount.
  • Network: A group of healthcare providers and facilities-including doctors, hospitals, and labs-that contract with your healthcare plan to provide services at negotiated discount rates. You'll usually pay less when you use a network healthcare provider. UC SHIP contracts with Anthem Blue Cross to provide access to its extensive network of hospitals and providers, including UC Family facilities and provider groups.
  • Out-of-Network: Healthcare professionals, hospitals, clinics, and labs that do not belong to the Anthem Blue Cross Prudent Buyer network. You'll typically pay more and may need to file a claim for payment.
  • Out-of-Pocket Maximum: The maximum amount of money you'll have to pay for healthcare in a year. After you meet the maximum, UC SHIP covers 100% of all eligible costs for the rest of the plan year.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): A group of medical or dental providers who contract with an insurance carrier to provide services for the insured at reduced rates.
  • Referral: Written authorization given by the student health center (SHC) to seek care outside of the SHC for medically necessary services.