Medical Care, Immunization, and Health Insurance
Health care in the US may be quite different from that of your home country. Medical treatment in the Boston area is exceptional but expensive since there is no socialized or national healthcare system in the U.S. so 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 and all requirements that apply to you.
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 Massachusett’s website.
Medical Insurance Coverage for Students
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 the Student Accounting Services Office. 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 if 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
Student Health Services
Boston University offers exceptional medical and wellness care to all full-time students at their 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 support 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, please visit Student Health Services.
Medical Insurance Coverage for Scholars
Eligibility for insurance will vary depending on your BU appointment. Please review the appropriate section below to determine your options for fulfilling
Health Insurance Benefits for Boston University Employees
BU provides health insurance options to paid employees with appointments of 9 months or longer who have a full time equivalency of at least 75%. Part-time employees (less than 75% time) and scholars employed for less than 9 months (even at 100% time) do not qualify for BU’s employee insurance plans. Insurance policies available through the Office of Human Resources do not include provisions covering medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. J-1 exchange visitors will need to purchase a supplemental insurance policy to cover these specific requirements.
Health insurance coverage offered through BU becomes effective on the first of the month on or after the start date of employment. (For instance, an employee who begins employment on September 1 may have insurance coverage beginning on that date. However, an employee beginning BU employment on September 2 or later in the month would not be eligible for coverage until October 1.) Therefore, you may need to purchase short-term coverage (see section below) to make sure proper health insurance requirements are met.
Questions about employee insurance plans should be referred to the Office of Human Resources, Benefits Section.
Health Insurance Options for Non-Benefits Eligible Employees & Affiliates
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements above, you will still need to obtain adequate health insurance for your stay at Boston University. 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, as follows:
- 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 US and complies with all insurance coverage requirements. Exchange Visitors should pay careful 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.
- “Buy Direct” Plan to meet Massachusetts State Insurance Requirement – Massachusetts offers insurance alternatives for individuals residing in the state. Insurance policies available through the Harvard Pilgrim “Buy Direct” plan do not include provisions covering medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. J-1 Exchange Visitors must purchase a supplemental insurance policy to cover these specific requirements. Please review the Harvard Pilgram Buy Direct information for additional details about the plan and how to enroll.
- Exchange Visitor insurance offered through a qualified Private Insurance Company – Below you will find a list of medical insurance companies that offer plans to J-1 scholars and their dependents. Many of the policies offered include coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, but check each one you consider 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, scholars and their dependents will need to purchase a supplemental insurance policy to cover these requirements. Please note that many of the J-1 plans will not meet the Massachusetts requirements.
Below is a non-inclusive list of companies that offer one or more coverage options for J-1 scholars and their dependents. Please note that by listing them here, we are not specifically recommending them or attesting to their credibility or reliability. The companies marked with an asterisk (*) offer supplemental polices covering medical evacuation and repatriation provisions. These supplemental plans may be useful for J-1 exchange visitors who have basic insurance coverage meeting most DOS requirements, but who need to purchase a separate policy to cover these two unique provisions.
- The Harbour Group* – www.hginsurance.com
- International SOS* – www.internationalsos.com
- BETA: Basic Emergency Travel Assistance – www.betins.com
- Wallach & Company – www.wallach.com
- CMI Insurance Specialists – www.studyabroadinsurance.com
- CISI: Cultural Insurance Services International – www.culturalinsurance.com/wccp-intlstudents.htm
- International Students Organization – www.isoa.org/home.html
- T. W. Lord & Associates – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- HTH Worldwide – www.hthstudents.com