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J-1 Exchange Visitor Medical Insurance Requirement

As an Exchange Visitor in J1 Status in the United States you must carry health insurance for the full duration your program. Government regulations stipulate that if you willfully fail to carry health insurance which meets the minimum federal requirements for yourself and your dependents, your J-1 sponsor must terminate your program and report the termination to the United States Department (DOS) in Washington. If you fail to carry the required health insurance, you will be considered to be “out of status” and ineligible for extension of stay, employment, or change to another status.

In addition to maintaining health insurance for yourself throughout your program, the insurance policy you carry must meet or exceed certain minimum requirements as stated in the regulations. A list of minimum requirements is outlined below. The Office of International Student Services at Nicholls State University does not have the authority to waive these federal requirements for any Exchange Visitor.


  • Deductible amounts. Most insurance policies require you to pay part of your health expenses yourself (your part is called the deductible), before the company pays anything. The J regulations limit the deductible to $500 per accident or illness.
  • Co-insurance. Even after you have paid the deductible, an insurance policy usually pays only a percentage of your medical expenses. The policy might pay 80%, for example, and the remaining 20%, which you would have to pay is called the co-insurance. Thus, if you were injured and incurred $3,000 in medical expenses, a policy with a $400 deductible and 20% co-insurance would cover $2,080 (80% of 2,600). The J regulations require the insurance company to pay at least 75% of covered medical expenses.
  • Lifetime/per-occurrence maximums. Many insurance policies limit the amount they will pay for any single individual’s medical bill for any specific illness or injury. Exchange visitors must have insurance with a maximum no lower than $50,000 for each specific illness or injury, which may be enough for most conditions.
  • If you should die in the United States, the policy must provide at least $7,500 in the benefit to send your remains to your home country for burial. This is also known as “repatriation”
  • If because of a serious illness or injury, you must be sent home on the advice of a doctor, the policy must pay up to $10,000 for the expenses of your travel. This is sometimes referred to as “medical evacuation”
  • The policy may establish a waiting period before it cover pre-existing conditions (health problems you had before you bought the insurance), as long as the waiting period is reasonable by current standards in the insurance industry.



*NOTE* Neither Nicholls State University nor the Office of International Students endorse any particular insurance company.  This is a list of possible resources. Feel free to investigate these and other insurance companies to make sure that they meet the DOS requirements and to find a plan that suits your individual needs.

ISO Student Health Insurance

International Student Secure

CISI (Cultural Ins. Services International)

Insurance for Students (IFS)

LewerMark Medical Insurance Plan


T.W. Lord and Associates



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