Healthcare and Insurance

Discover the resources you have to stay healthy while you at at the University of Cincinnati. Learn the UC and U.S. government requirements for health insurance.

The U.S. healthcare system is different from national healthcare systems many global students are used to.

A network of healthcare providers—physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, psychological and psychiatric services, etc.—supply medical care and bill individuals and their insurance companies. Individuals are usually responsible for a standard upfront cost (co-pay), a certain annual minimum before the insurance coverage begins (deductible) and a percentage of large expenses over the course of a lifetime. There is a very wide variety among insurance plans, as well as wide variations about which providers and services each plan will cover.

To help make sure that you do not incur unmanageable healthcare expenses, UC has put in place standard requirements for insurance coverage on top of the requirements mandated by the U.S. government for all international students. 

Healthcare for students

Remember, the emergency phone number for medical help in the U.S. is 911. If you call from a mobile phone, you will need to tell the operator where you are. If possible, have someone call UC Public Safety at 513-556-1111 at the same time to help route emergency medical services.

University Health Services has two campus locations and a pharmacy. Registered students of the University of Cincinnati may be seen at University Health Services (UHS). Appointments are required.

University Health Services provides primary care services, women’s health, dermatology, mental health services, and preventative health care. Additional services include a pharmacy, x-ray, and laboratory services.

University Health Services is open daily during the week. There is also a doctor on call 24 hours a day to advise you if you have an emergency when the Campus Health Center is closed.

Counseling and Psychological Services is available 24/7, and most of their services are free.

At UC Blue Ash, Counseling Services and at UC Clermont, the Compass Counseling Center provide similar services.

UC Blue Ash runs a dental hygiene clinic, enabling students and faculty to serve the community through dental evaluations and preventive treatment. This is a low-cost option to receive basic dental hygiene services.

The clinic does not provide more invasive procedures, such as root canals, fillings, implants, etc.

Health insurance requirements

All international students at the University of Cincinnati are required to carry the UC Student Health Insurance policy unless

  • You can prove coverage equal to or greater than the policy (see Waiving insurance)
  • You do not meet minimum credit hours or other eligibility requirements to qualify for the policy, as listed on the health insurance website (see Requirements by visa type for alternatives)

Foreign-based policies will not be accepted. 

Insurance fees will be included on your tuition bill as soon as you register. You are responsible for paying this fee each semester you are registered.

If at any time while you registered for classes, you change your F or J Visa status, register for classes from outside the United States, or transfer to another institution, you must contact the UC Student Health Insurance office immediately. Failure to do so means you must reimburse UC for your insurance premium.

Check the health insurance website for information on eligibility (required credit hours, dependent eligibility, etc.), enrollment forms and current fees. If you do not meet eligibility requirements, see additional information under Requirements by visa type.

Healthcare and Insurance

Waiving insurance

You are encouraged to carefully review policies with your parents or partner if you are covered under someone else's insurance.

If you are currently enrolled in a health insurance plan that is equal to or better than the UC Student Health Insurance policy, you may waive UC Student Health Insurance by submitting an online waiver. All waivers must be received by the deadlines listed on the UC Student Health Insurance website.

Requirements by visa type

All international visitors, whether studying, working, or collaborating on 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 must meet Department of State requirements for health insurance coverage; in most circumstances, students must also meet university requirements. 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 by visa type will help you understand the requirements and provide options you can pursue.   

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 do not meet eligibility requirements for student health insurance, you must still have insurance while in the United States. If necessary, 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 under Other insurance plans.

Note: Those policies below will not qualify eligible students 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.

All J-1 Exchange Visitors (and dependents) are required to have health insurance that meets Department of State requirements:

  • medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • medical evacuation to the home country in the amount of $50,000
  • a deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • 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, OR
    • a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above.

Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country meets this requirement.

All J-1 Exchange Visitors must submit proof of health and accident insurance coverage not only for the Exchange Visitor, but for all accompanying family members. Health insurance requirements for Exchange Visitors and their dependents is strictly detailed by the Department of State. You must maintain the appropriate health insurance coverage for the duration of your program.

For those who will not receive UC benefits that meet the regulations, or will waive UC benefits, you can find qualified plans below under the section for Other Insurance Plans:

J-1 recipients who will receive UC medical benefits must understand how their UC insurance meets these requirements.

  • J-1 exchange visitors who qualify for UC Faculty (AAUP teaching positions such as Educators) benefits need to select the PPO option, not the HDHP option. 
    • The HDHP option does not meet Department of State J-1 insurance requirements. 
    • The PPO option does meet the regulations including providing the appropriate medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage and deductible.
  • UC Staff, (postdocs, research assistants; etc.) or non-AAUP teaching positions (visiting assistant professors), benefits do not include medical evacuation or repatriation of remains and the deductible is in excess of Department of State regulations. 
    • J-1 exchange visitors who qualify for staff benefits should keep their UC benefits and purchase an additional policy that meets J-1 regulations fully. In this case, the UC benefits are primary and other coverage is secondary. 
    • UC reimburse affected J-1 exchange visitors $100 per month, including providing an additional $100 for each dependent once you supply our office with proof of purchase of a qualifying policy. This should allow you to purchase an outside J-1 medical insurance plan that meets the regulations with minimal to no additional costs to you, while allowing you to keep your UC benefits intact. You must keep your UC Staff Benefits (do not waive) to qualify for the reimbursement.

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 you enroll 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 and
  • 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 must carry ACA-compliant insurance or 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 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

  • 31 days during the current year, and
  • 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.

Being subject to the individual mandate is a separate issue from whether you are eligible to participate in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In most cases, a lawfully present nonimmigrant who is exempt from the individual mandate still qualifies for marketplace coverage through the State exchanges if desired

The Health Insurance Marketplace website lists immigration statuses that qualify for marketplace coverage.

These are some additional options for insurance coverage available to you.

  • 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


Routine dental check-ups and eye exams are not covered by the Student Health Insurance plan. However, supplemental dental and vision insurance can be purchased on your own.