Health services in the United States can be extremely costly without adequate insurance coverage. Therefore, international scholars at the University of Tennessee must obtain health insurance to be protected against any potentially expensive healthcare costs. The following sections provide detailed information on UT’s health services, immunization requirements, and insurance for international scholars.
Health Information for Scholars
Health Insurance Regulations for J-1 Scholars
The US Department of State and the Exchange Visitor Program requires that all persons in J-1 or J-2 status have health insurance coverage for every day of their program and stay in the United States. The health insurance policy coverage must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Cover at least 75 percent of medical expenses, up to $50,000 per illness (after deductible is paid).
- A deductible of not more than $500 per illness.
- Cost of medical evacuation must be covered for at least $10,000 and repatriation in case of death for at least $7,500.
- Provided by a company with an AM Best rating of “A-” or above, an ISI rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard & Poor’s rating of “A-” or above, or a Weiss Research rating of “B+” or above.
These requirements apply even if the J-1 scholar or J-2 dependents are outside the United States. J-1 scholars will be required to show proof of their insurance several times during their stay at the University of Tennessee. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in program termination.
UT also requires host departments to pay for health insurance for any J-1 intern.
Health Insurance Plans
Employee Health Insurance
If a scholar will be hired as a regular employee by UT, the scholar will be eligible to have the same health insurance available to all UT employees. Information about the policy, enrollment, and fees will be given to the scholar during New Employee Orientation.
Scholars will need to purchase health insurance for the gap between his or her program start date and the insurance start date. Employee health insurance begins on the first day of the month following the start date of employment. For example, if someone starts working on either March 2 or March 29, their insurance will begin on April 1 (the first day of the following month). To cover this gap, a scholar may purchase the UT Student and Scholar insurance (more information below) upon arrival to UT, or may purchase health insurance from another company (see options below).
In addition, the UT employee insurance does not have adequate repatriation and evacuation coverage (another J requirement) so a standalone policy is also available for purchase. More information about this policy is available upon request.
UT Student and Scholar Health Insurance
As of August 1, 2012, the University of Tennessee has a policy with United Healthcare to provide health insurance for students and scholars. Scholars are not automatically enrolled in the UT Student and Scholar Health Policy, but any scholar or their host department may purchase this policy for the scholar and their dependents. Scholars interested in purchasing this insurance policy should contact their host departments to get more information on how to proceed.
One advantage of the UT Student and Scholar Health Policy is that a scholar can backdate the insurance plan to start on the day of entry (as required by law). For example, a scholar who arrives on a Saturday and checks in with the CIE the following Monday may elect for the insurance plan to begin on the Saturday he or she arrived. However, this policy may not be purchased prior to arrival.
Other Health Insurance Plans
Scholars can purchase any other health insurance plan, even an international plan, as long as it meets the previously stated J-1 regulations (see above section). For a list of insurance companies for international scholars, visit the NAFSA Resource Page. CIE strongly advises that scholars begin a policy on the day they leave their home country.
Scholars will be required to present proof of purchase of an adequate health insurance plan when they check-in with CIE . If a scholar purchases a policy that does not meet the J-1 requirements, he/she will have to purchase another policy or his/her J-1 status will be canceled.