Medical Care, Immunization & Health Insurance

Health care in the U.S. may be quite different from that of your home country. Medical treatment in the Boston area is very good, but American health care can be expensive—there is no socialized or national health care system in the U.S. Health insurance is necessary to help defray those costs.

In addition, federal and state regulations have insurance mandates that you will need to be aware of and comply with during your stay in the U.S., including requirements specific to students in Massachusetts, residents of Massachusetts and J-1 exchange visitors.  While the ISSO strives to give you the most up-to-date information on insurance requirements, we cannot monitor whether specific insurance plans meet the requirements – ultimately it is your responsibility to make sure you have the proper coverage to meet any requirements that apply to you.

Health Insurance

Mandatory Health Insurance for Massachusetts Residents

Massachusetts has a standard of minimum coverage which is required for all persons residing in the state (note that for the purpose of Massachusetts insurance coverage, the term “residing” applies to all persons who live in the state during a given year). Failure to maintain adequate health insurance coverage to meet the Massachusetts requirements may result in tax penalties. More information can be found on the Attorney General for Massachusetts’ website.

Researcher, Faculty, and Staff Medical Insurance

Eligibility for insurance will vary depending on your BU appointment. Please review the appropriate section below to determine your options.

Health insurance policy options through BU may be available for J‐1 scholars who are paid employees of BU, provided the employment will last at least 9 months and will be at least 50% time. Part‐time employees (less than 50% time) and scholars employed for less than 9 months (regardless of % time) do not qualify for BU employee insurance plans. Insurance policies available through BU do not include provisions covering medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. A supplemental insurance policy will be necessary to cover these specific requirements:

Health insurance coverage offered through BU generally becomes effective on the first of the month on or after the start date of employment. The Office Human Resources offers weekly new employee orientation sessions for benefits eligible employees and will provide more details about health insurance. Please contact them with questions related to your employment benefits.

If you do not meet the eligibility requirements above, you will still need to obtain adequate health insurance for your stay at BU. Requirements for Massachusetts residents and J-1 exchange visitors must be met, regardless of your BU affiliation.  Three primary alternatives exist for scholars who do not qualify for BU health insurance coverage:

  1. Home country health insurance policy—Certain countries offer health insurance coverage to their citizens abroad, which may meet the established J-1 requirements. If you are in J-1 status and opt for coverage under a foreign insurance policy, you must be certain the policy is accepted in the U.S. and complies with all insurance coverage requirements. Please pay attention to whether an expiration of benefits exists after a period of absence from the home country. If the policy does not cover requirements for medical evaluation and repatriation of remains, a supplementary policy must be purchased to cover these provisions (see below).
  2. Direct purchase of coverage to meet the Affordable Care Act minimum requirements – The Health Connector is an independent agency that helps Massachusetts residents find health insurance that meets the federal requirements.  Insurance policies available through these plans do not include provisions covering medical evacuation and repatriations of remains. A supplemental policy will be necessary to cover those specific requirements (see below). For more information on coverage options and to sign up please see the Health Connector website.
  3. Exchange visitor insurance offered through a qualified private insurance company— Many private insurance companies offer medical insurance plans with coverage that meet or exceed the J‐1 minimums. Many of these plans include coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains and conformity with ACA requirements, but check each one to be sure. In the event that the health insurance policy you have selected does not cover medical evacuation and repatriation components required by J‐1 regulation, you will need to purchase a supplemental policy.Companies with offering plans that meet the J-1 minimum insurance requirements (By listing them here, we are not specifically recommending them or attesting to their credibility or reliability).

    Companies that provide supplemental Medical Evacuation and Repatriation plans

Student Medical Insurance

All Boston University students are automatically enrolled each year in the Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan administered by Aetna Student Health. This plan was designed for your safety and well-being. You will be charged for the basic medical insurance plan on your tuition bill.

If you already have medical insurance coverage from another source (for example, through a company that sponsors your study in the United States), you may request a waiver of this fee and un-enroll in the Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan by completing the waiver form and providing proof of comparable insurance to Student Accounting Services. An alternate insurance plan must meet strict requirements in order for you to qualify for the waiver. With very few exceptions, state law prohibits BU from accepting coverage by an insurance company outside the United States. Before enrolling for coverage or renewing coverage in an insurance plan other than Boston University’s student health plan, check with Student Accounting Services to determine whether it meets the waiver requirements.

Please visit Student Accounting Services Medical Insurance for more information regarding:

  • Waiver forms and deadlines
  • Comparable medical insurance requirements
  • Student Plus plan
  • Purchasing medical insurance coverage for dependent family members

Please visit Aetna Student Health to:

  • Read detailed information about the Boston University Student Medical Insurance Plan
  • Print a copy of your medical insurance card

Additional requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors

Student Health Services

Boston University offers exceptional medical and wellness care to all full-time students at this on-campus facility. From coughs and colds to asthma and acne, they have a staff of expert clinicians to meet your medical needs in a caring and confidential environment. Medical services include gynecological care, men’s health care, sports medicine, minor office procedures, referrals to specialists, and massage therapy. Wellness & Prevention Services supports your well-being with resources and up-to-date information on topics such as stress relief, nutrition, smoking cessation, and much more. All students pay mandatory fees (which are separate from any medical insurance fees) so they can take full advantage of medical care and support services throughout their academic program.

Visit Student Health Services for detailed information and to make an appointment.

Student Immunization and Health Forms

Massachusetts state law requires that all students be immunized (vaccinated) against certain communicable diseases. There are several policies and procedures that you must follow to comply with immunization requirements at Boston University, which includes submitting the completed Incoming Student Health Forms before you arrive on campus. If students do not receive the required immunizations and submit the necessary forms before they arrive on campus, there may be serious consequences, such as not being allowed to attend classes.

For more information on the immunization requirements and forms, please visit Student Health Services.