This page explains the need for health insurance in the United States
and outlines the minimum provisions of the coverage required, as of September
1, 1994, of every person in J-1 or J-2 status. It also defines
some of the terms generally used in discussions of health
The requirementAs an Exchange Visitor in the United States, under a rule effective September 1, 1994, you must carry health insurance for yourself and your J-2 dependents for the full duration of your J program. Government regulations stipulate that if, after that date, you willfully fail to carry health insurance for yourself and your dependents, your J-1 sponsor must terminate your program, and report the termination to the United States Information Agency (USIA) in Washington.
The reason for the requirement and the need for health insuranceIt is dangerous to be in the United States without adequate health insurance. Although in many countries the government bears the expense of health care for its citizens, and sometimes even for visitors, individuals and families in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves. Since a single day of hospitalization and medical treatment can cost thousands of dollars, many hospitals and doctors refuse to treat uninsured patients except in life-threatening emergencies. Most Americans rely on insurance, and you should do the same. insurance gives you access to better and more timely health care, and provides the only protection against the enormous costs of health care in this country.
How medical insurance worksWhen you purchase health coverage, the money you pay (your premium) is combined with the premiums of others to form a pool of money. That money is then used to pay the medical bills of those participants who need health care. Your coverage remains valid only as long as you continue to pay your insurance premiums.
Once you purchase insurance, the company will provide you with an insurance identification card for use as proof of your coverage when you are seeking health care from a hospital or doctor. The company will also provide written instructions for reporting and documenting medical expenses (filing a claim). The company will evaluate any claim that you file, and make the appropriate payment for coverage under your particular policy. In some cases the company pays the hospital or doctor directly; in others the company reimburses the policy holder after he or she has paid the bills.
Choosing an insurance policyYour J-1 sponsor may include coverage as part of sponsorship, without further charge to you. Alternatively, your J-1 sponsor may have selected and approved a specific policy for all its Exchange Visitors, and may require you to buy that insurance as soon as you arrive in the United States. In many cases, however, you will be required to select and purchase your own insurance coverage. In choosing an insurance policy, you should consider many factors, not simply the minimum stipulated by USIA:
Required insurance specificationsIn addition to the deductible, co-insurance, and exclusions described in bold type in the preceding section, USIA has established the following requirements for the type and amounts of coverage you must carry if you hold J-1 or J-2 status:
Where to find insurance information
If you need information about purchasing insurance, ask your J-1 sponsor about policies available to Exchange Visitors in the United States. Read the policy information carefully and don't be afraid to ask questions before you buy.
For scholars who will be employed by CU: If you choose not to enroll in a CU insurance plan, then you must actively waive the insurance option. If you do not waive the insurance, you will be automatically enrolled in the Lumenos plan, an insurance plan that does not meet the Department of State requirements. For more information on waiving CU health insurance, please visit the Payroll and Benefits Service’s website at https://www.cu.edu/pbs/benefits/plans/.
Insurance agentsAn agent is an individual who represents one or several insurance companies and sells insurance to individuals and groups. When working with an agent you should feel free to ask questions and take the time to learn about and understand several choices before you make a decision. If you are uncertain or confused, don't sign anything. Consult a knowledgeable friend, or your J-1 sponsor, for help.
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