The Department of State (DOS) requires all J-1 exchange visitors and their accompanying (or following to join) J-2 dependents to have and maintain medical, evacuation and repatriation insurance for the entire duration of their DS-2019. The J-1 Exchange Visitor is ultimately responsible for acquiring sufficient insurance for the entire duration of stay in the U.S.
An Exchange Visitor or accompanying dependent who willfully fails to maintain the minimum level of insurance coverage established by the DOS will be in violation of these regulations and will be subject to termination from the Exchange Visitor program. Please note that this requirement holds even if the exchange visitor or J-2 dependents are temporarily abroad.
Minimum coverage must provide:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to their home country in the amount of $50,000
- Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
In addition, insurance policies
- May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable as determined by current industry standards;
- 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; and
- Must not unreasonable exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.
Coverage for families can be very expensive ‐ $3,000 or more per year for an adult couple with additional costs for children. In the U.S., maternity care certain kinds of elective medical care, such as eyeglasses or dentistry, are ordinarily not covered by insurance, and they are very expensive. To the extent possible, Exchange Visitors should take care of those needs before leaving home or purchase supplemental policies as needed. For more information on healthcare in the U.S., please see this section of the ISSS website.
J-1 Scholars Who are Paid by USC
You may be offered access to health insurance as part of your benefits package at USC, but these plans do not meet DOS regulations due to the policies’ deductible amounts. ISSS recommends in most cases that you decline coverage through PEBA. Please see below for more information on accepted health insurance plans.
Recommended Health Insurance Plans
Most exchange visitors will have to purchase insurance independently, and make arrangements before they arrive to the U.S., or soon after their arrival. ISSS recommends the following insurance companies with J-1 compliant plans:
- ISO International Insurance (includes evacuation & repatriation)
- WorldTrips Insurance Plans (includes evacuation & repatriation)
All J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to purchase repatriation insurance for all J-1 and J-2 visa holders. If you elect to purchase a qualifying medical insurance policy separately that does not include evacuation/repatriation benefits, ISSS recommends the following supplemental option: