Health Insurance Requirement
All J-1 scholars, student interns, and their J-2 dependents must have health insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of State during their entire stay in the U.S. The insurance requirements are briefly outlined below:
- Major medical benefits per accident or illness: $100,000
- Medical evacuation: $50,000
- Repatriation of remains to home country: $25,000
- Deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
- Coinsurance not to exceed 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness.
Please note that the above information highlights the major requirements contained in the regulations. For more information or to obtain a copy of full text of the insurance requirements section of the J-1 regulations, please contact your ISS Advisor.
Complying with the Health Insurance Requirement
All J visa holders (including J-2 dependents) MUST have continuous health and accident insurance that meets the J visa requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of State.
Extensions, Travel Signatures, etc. Any J-1 or accompanying dependent who is requesting services from ISS such as an extension, travel signature, etc. will have their insurance re-checked by ISS. Individuals requesting services will be required to show ISS proof of continuing coverage in a plan that meets the minimum requirements before ISS will process the request.
J-1s' and J-2s' Personal Responsibility. All J visa holders are responsible for maintaining valid health insurance, showing proof of coverage to ISS, tracking their own insurance expiration date, and renewing the insurance before it expires. ISS's recommendation is that if your J-1 program will continue past your insurance expiration date, you should renew your health insurance and submit documentation to ISS at least 1 month before your current plan expires.
Information for J-1 Scholars who are NOT eligible for the employee health insurance through Virginia Tech.
If you are not eligible for the employee health insurance through Virginia Tech, you have 3 choices: (1) purchase one of the recommended plans from IE Student Health (which have been pre-screened to verify they meet the J-1 requirements); (2) purchase an alternate plan which meets the requirements and have it evaluated to show that it meets the requirements; or (3) purchase the AETNA insurance policy through the Virginia Tech Student Medical Insurance Office. If you have arrived with a spouse or if there is a possibility of a pregnancy during your J program, you may want to consider the AETNA plan. Please see below for more information:
Recommended Health Insurance Plans for J-1 Scholars not eligible for VT's Health Insurance
1. Purchase a recommended plan from IE Student Health. International Support Services has partnered with IE Student Health to provide Virginia Tech scholars and student interns with options for insurance plans. You may email Belinda Pauley (email@example.com) for more information regarding the recommended plans. All health insurance plans recommended by IE Student Health meet or exceed the U.S. Department of State's minimum requirements for J-1 and J-2 holders regarding health insurance. Scholars and student interns who enroll in a recommended plan only need to show ISS confirmation of enrollment in the recommended plan as proof of coverage.
2. Purchase an alternate insurance plan and have the plan evaluated by IE Student Health. Scholars and student interns are not required to enroll in a recommended plan. However, a scholar or student intern who chooses to enroll in a plan that is not on the recommendations list will be required to obtain an evaluation of coverage from IE Student Health. Evaluations cost $20 per plan and take approx. 2 business days to process. If IE Student Health determines that the plan meets the minimum requirements, the company will issue a Certificate of Compliance. For more information regarding the evaluation process, you may contact Belinda Pauley (firstname.lastname@example.org). A J-1 or J-2 visa holder who enrolls in a plan that is not on the recommendations list, must show both the confirmation of enrollment and the Certificate of Compliance as proof coverage.
3. Purchase the AETNA health insurance through Virginia Tech's Student Medical Insurance Office. New J-1 Scholars and Student Interns can also purchase the AETNA insurance plan available through the university at the time of their arrival. Scholars and Student Interns may not enroll in this plan at a later time. Although health insurance covering maternity or pregnancy expenses is not one of the health insurance requirements for J-1 and J-2 visa holders, you may want to seriously consider the AETNA insurance plan if there is a possibility of a pregnancy during your J program. Maternity and pregnancy costs in the United States are extremely expensive (especially without health insurance that specifically covers these expenses!) For more information regarding the AETNA plan, you may contact the Student Medical Insurance Office at Virginia Tech; email address: email@example.com
Submitting Proof of Coverage (for individuals who plan to enroll in a recommended or non-recommended plan)
What you must submit for proof of coverage depends on whether you enrolled in a recommended plan or a different plan. Regardless of the plan, all documents must be in English and must fully describe all details of your insurance coverage (including plan start and expiration dates, deductibles, and names of covered individuals). All plans must be at least 1 year in duration or the length of the J-1 program, whichever is shorter.
Documents you are required to submit to ISS as proof of health insurance:
- Confirmation of enrollment in one of the recommended plans.
- Confirmation of enrollment in an alternate plan and the Certificate of Compliance from the evaluation process.
- Confirmation of enrollment in the AETNA insurance plan through Virginia Tech's Student Medical Insurance Office.
Information for J-1 Scholars who are full time employees of the university and are eligible for VT's Health Insurance
If you are a J-1 scholar who is a salaried and benefitted employee of Virginia Tech, you may be eligible for health insurance through Virginia Tech. There are some eligibility requirements such as having at least an 80% FTE appointment and your VT host department can verify whether you eligible for health insurance through VT. ISS cannot verify this information so please ask your host department. Also, for more information regarding the employee health insurance, you may contact the Office of Human Resources at Virginia Tech; email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are eligible for VT's health insurance, please be aware that you must be very careful when choosing an insurance plan offered by VT to ensure that the plan you enroll in will meet the J-1 minimum insurance requirements. The following information is very important to remember when choosing a plan:
- None of the plans offered through VT meet the Medical Evacuation and Repatriation coverage requirements. Therefore, in order to meet this requirement, you must purchase a separate plan to cover Medical Evacuation and Repatriation. Such a plan can be purchased outside of VT and many plans are available. Please contact ISS if you have questions about finding a separate ME&R plan to supplement your health insurance offered through VT. Most of these separate ME&R plans can be purchased in 3, 6 or 12 month increments and are around $80 to $100 per year per covered individual.
- The ONLY insurance plans offered to employees through VT which meet the remaining J-1 health insurance requirements are the Anthem Cova Care Plan for those J visa holders stationed in Blacksburg, VA or the Cova Care of Kaiser Plan for those J visa holders stationed in Northern Virginia. Please note that the Cova Care of Kaiser is only available to VT employees in the Northern Virginia area.
- The Cova High Deductible Health Plan and the Cova HealthAware Plan do NOT meet the minimum J-1 health insurance requirements due to the deductible amounts ($1500 or more per year for Cova Health Aware and $1750 or more per year for the Cova HDHP).
- If you enroll in the Cova High Deductible Health Plan or the Cova HealthAware Plan, you will be required to purchase an additional health insurance plan from outside of VT which meets the J-1 minimum requirements in order to comply with the J-1 regulations.
- Enrollment rules are very strict. Once you enroll in any plan, you cannot change to a different plan until the open enrollment period in May unless you have a qualifying event (marriage, birth of child, etc.).
Submitting Proof of Health Insurance Coverage (for individuals who are eligible for and plan to enroll in a VT offered insurance plan)
There several ways to document enrollment in a VT insurance plan and the two easiest ways are as follows:
- Submit a copy of your health insurance card to ISS.
- Email Human Resources with ISS copied on the email and ask for Human Resources to provide verification of your current coverage details.
In addition, every person who enrolls in a VT offered health insurance plan must also submit proof of enrollment in a separate supplemental plan to cover Medical Evacuation and Repatriation. The following rules apply when documenting enrollment in a supplemental ME&R plan:
- Submit documentation of or a copy of your medical evacuation and repatriation coverage plan.
- All documents must be in English and must fully describe all details of your insurance coverage (including plan start and expiration dates, coverage levels, deductibles, and names of covered individuals). All plans must be at least 1 year in duration or the length of the J-1 program, whichever is shorter.
Finally, please note that it may take some time for your VT insurance coverage to begin. While you are waiting for your coverage with VT to begin, you should make sure that you are covered under some other plan during the interim period between when you arrive in the U.S. and when your VT insurance begins. This is both for your own safety and to comply with the J-1 insurance requirements.