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Health Insurance Requirements for Students and Scholars

All international visitors whether studying, working, or otherwise engaging in collaborative activities with the University of Cincinnati are required to have health insurance coverage while in the U.S. F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors have university and/or Department of State requirements for health insurance coverage that must be met. All other visitors are subject to coverage based on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act - ACA). It is your responsibility to understand your health insurance requirements and comply accordingly. This information will help you understand the requirements and provide options that can be pursued.

Health Insurance Requirements for F-1 and J-1 Students

All international students are required to carry the University of Cincinnati Student Health Insurance policy unless they can prove coverage equal to or greater than the University policy. If you are not registered for at least 6 credit hours or more, you will not be eligible for the University Student Health Insurance policy. There is an exception to this rule for graduate students finished with all required coursework and who are actively writing a thesis/dissertation. Under such circumstances you can work with the Student Health Insurance to purchase the plan.

However, you must have insurance while in the United States. If needed, you can obtain health insurance coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange” as part of the Affordable Care Act or from one of the insurance companies listed below in the Health Insurance Plans section. The policies below will NOT qualify you for a waiver of the UC Student Health Insurance policy. They are strictly provided as an option for students who don't qualify for the UC policy, but still need insurance.

Health Insurance Requirements for J-1 Scholars

All J-1 Exchange Visitors (and dependents) are required to have health insurance that meets Department of State Requirements. Such requirements include: medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness; repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500; medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $10,000; and a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

The insurance policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of 'A' or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of 'A-1' or above, a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying ability rating of 'A-' or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+. Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country shall be deemed to meet this requirement.

If your appointment is not covered by University of Cincinnati medical benefits, or the student health insurance plan, you will be required to provide UC International Services with proof of insurance that meets the requirements upon arrival. Failure to produce such proof of insurance will result in the termination of your J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

Employees of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center must purchase additional coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. The CCHMC Humana Select insurance plan does not include these benefits.

If needed, you can obtain health insurance coverage from one of the insurance companies listed below in the Health Insurance Plans section. The Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange” as part of the Affordable Care Act, does not meet all the requirements for insurance for J-1 exchange visitors.

Health Insurance Requirements for all other International Visitors

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act - ACA) requires individuals who do not maintain “minimum essential healthcare coverage” to make an additional payment to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when they pay their taxes, unless they are exempt. The “individual shared responsibility” provision of this act can be avoided if the individual enrolls in a compliant plan by the date stipulated for the current tax year. Students and employees covered by the UC Student Health Insurance Plan or by employee benefits are enrolled in a compliant plan and do not need to worry about ACA. All other international visitors, which could include students who do not qualify for the UC Student Health Insurance Plan or nonimmigrant visa holders who are not UC employees, must enroll in a compliant plan or make additional payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unless exempt.

Whether or not you are expected to carry ACA-compliant insurance or to pay the tax penalty for not carrying it is determined by your residency status for tax purposes. Determining your tax residency status can be difficult, but generally F-1 and J-1 students are considered to be non-resident aliens for tax purposes for the first 5 years of presence in the U.S. J-1 scholars are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes for the first two years in the U.S. All others are generally considered resident aliens for tax purposes if physically present in the United States on at least:

  1. 31 days during the current year, and
  2. 183 days during the 3-year period that includes the current year and the 2 years immediately before that, counting:
    • All the days you were present in the current year, and
    • 1/3 of the days you were present in the first year before the current year, and
    • 1/6 of the days you were present in the second year before the current year.

It is also important to distinguish between being subject to the individual mandate and being eligible to participate in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In most cases, a lawfully present nonimmigrant who is exempt from the individual mandate would still qualify for marketplace coverage through the State exchanges, if he or she so desired. See www.healthcare.gov for a list of immigration statuses that qualify for marketplace coverage.

Health Insurance Plans

If needed, you can obtain a valid health insurance policy from one of the following companies via the internet:

  • T.W. Lord & Associates
    Toll Free: 1-800-633-2360
    Tel: 1-770-427-2461
    Fax: 1-770-429-0638
    25 Dodd Street
    P.O. Box 1185
    Marietta, GA 30061