Health Insurance

University of Alabama Health Insurance Overview

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS
University of Alabama policy mandates that all international students are required to maintain medical insurance coverage of at least:

US $250,000 per injury/illness;
US $25,000 coverage for repatriation of mortal remains;
US $50,000 coverage for emergency medical evacuation; and
A deductible that does not exceed $250 per person per policy year for in-network care and does not exceed $500 per person per policy year for out-of-network care.

If you are an F-1 or J-1 student, the University-sponsored medical insurance will be automatically charged to your student account. If this charge is not included on your registration bill, it is your responsibility to notify the UA Student Health Insurance office.

UA Student Health Insurance forms are available here: https://shc.ua.edu/university-sponsored-insurance/.

INSURANCE FOR F-2 & J-2 DEPENDENT SPOUSES AND CHILDREN
Health care in the United States is extremely expensive, so it is important to learn about health resources for your dependents as soon as they arrive in the U.S.  Insurance coverage for dependents of J-1 exchange visitors, spouse and children, is required by the J visa program. Coverage for dependents of F-1 students is strongly recommended.

If you are enrolled in the University-sponsored medical insurance plan, you can add your spouse and/or children using the form available here: https://shc.ua.edu/university-sponsored-insurance/.

WAIVER OF UA HEALTH INSURANCE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE OTHER INSURANCE
If you already have medical insurance that meets or exceeds the University of Alabama guidelines listed above, you may request a waiver of UA insurance charges. A waiver form is available here: https://shc.ua.edu/university-sponsored-insurance/. The waiver form must be completed by you as well as your insurance provider and submitted to UA’s Student Health Center.  Without processing a waiver, you will be automatically charged for the University-sponsored insurance policy; so, be sure to submit the waiver in order to avoid paying for two separate insurance policies.

To avoid future billing for health insurance, proof of coverage must be provided EACH SEMESTER that the student is enrolled by the insurance company on or before the last day to register or add a class, regardless of whether or not proof was provided for the previous semesters. If proof is not provided, you will be charged for UA insurance and held responsible for payment of this charge.

INFORMATION FOR GRADUATE TEACHING & RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
The University of Alabama offers health insurance coverage to some international graduate students who have been awarded a graduate teaching or research assistantship. For more information about this benefit, visit the following website: https://graduate.ua.edu/current-students/getting-started/

Graduate students who have been awarded an assistantship from their admitting department should contact the department for confirmation that their assistantship award includes the health insurance benefit.

WHY HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE
You never know when you might encounter a serious illness or accident that will require medical care! Medical care in the US is very expensive. Although in many countries the government bears the expense of health care for its citizens or visitors, people in the United States are responsible for these costs themselves.

To stay in the hospital for one day in the US may cost more than $2,500, and a routine pregnancy could cost anywhere from $6,000 – $12,000.  Most people would be financially ruined if they had to pay for such expenses. Most Americans rely on health insurance to get access to better and more timely health care and to protect themselves against the enormous costs of health care in this country – you should do the same!

Without health insurance, many doctors would even refuse to treat you unless it was a life-threatening emergency. It also is a violation of immigration law for F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 students/scholars and dependents to accept public assistance, even for medical care. By maintaining health insurance, you avoid worrying about unexpected medical costs so you are free to pursue your education or research in the US.

HOW TO USE YOUR INSURANCE
Make sure you present your insurance ID card as proof of insurance each time you visit a doctor.

With most insurance plans, after you receive treatment, the doctor or hospital files a claim with the insurance company for you.  This claim is reviewed by the insurance company, and if the treatment is covered, they will make payments to the hospital or doctor. The insurance company will notify you of their decision on the claim.

If the insurance company does not pay the entire bill, the doctor or hospital will send you a bill for the remaining expenses. Most insurance companies don’t cover 100% of treatments, so you will be responsible to pay what the insurance company will not. Make sure you fill out all forms from the doctor or insurance company carefully and completely. If you disagree with the decision of the company about payment of a claim, you have the right to file an appeal. Your insurance company can explain the appeal process.

KEY INSURANCE TERMS

Claim:  A written request for payment by the insurance company of medical expenses that are covered under an insurance policy.
Co-payment:  After the deductible is paid, this is the portion of a covered expense that must be paid by the insured individual.  For example, you might have to pay a $20 co-payment each time you see a doctor.
Deductible:  The portion of a covered expense that must be paid by the insured person before the insurance company pays its portion of the expense.  (Ex. If the deductible is $100, then you must pay the first $100 of covered medical costs before the insurance will pay anything).
Exclusion:  Any condition or expense for which, under the terms of the insurance policy, no coverage is provided and no payment will be made.
Insurance Premium:  The amount of money you have to pay to receive coverage with an insurance company for a given period of time.
Pre-existing Condition:  A medical condition that existed before an insurance policy was purchased.
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization):  With a PPO plan, the insurance company will generally pay a high percentage of the cost if you choose one of their “preferred providers” (a doctor who is “in network.”)
• HMO (Health Maintenance Organization):  With an HMO, you are required to seek care first from a selected physician (the “primary care provider”) before you can go to any other doctors or health facilities.

J-1 Students and Scholars Sponsored by The University of Alabama
In addition to UA’s Insurance Policy, as J-1 Exchange Visitor under the Department of State’s J-1 non-immigrant visa program, you are required by law to maintain health insurance for yourself and any J-2 dependents during your stay in the United States. The medical insurance coverage for you and your dependent family members must meet the following minimum federal guideline requirements.

Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his/her home country in the amount of $50,000
Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
Exchange visitors may also be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act

Please note that not all health insurance plans include medical evacuation and repatriation coverage (e.g., Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama does not include medical evacuation and repatriation). Medical evacuation and repatriation coverage (see below) can be purchased for $45/year through FrontierMedex. Additional information and brochures are available online and at International Student and Scholar Services.

SEVIS authorized Responsible Officers of the J program are required to maintain proof that J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors have adequate insurance in effect throughout the entire time they are participating in the sponsor’s program. Proof of adequate health insurance coverage must indicate the duration of your coverage including the end date of the policy. If your actual health insurance card does not provide this information, you should make a copy of your insurance plan details that indicate the insurance coverage start and end dates. You must also provide proof of medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. A valid FrontierMedex card or print out of your current and valid insurance plan details that indicate medical evacuation and repatriation coverage will be accepted as adequate proof of coverage.

MedEvac & Repatriation Coverage

For international students and J-1 scholars who are enrolled in an insurance policy which provides standard medical and prescription benefits only (e.g. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama), you are required to maintain additional insurance coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of mortal remains.

Medical evacuation and repatriation insurance is designed specifically for international visitors to the United States to provide return transport home in the case of a severe medical emergency or in the case of death. Additionally, this type of insurance provides other protections in emergencies.

UnitedHealthcare Global has coverage available here: www.uhcsr.com/UHCGlobal.  To purchase the UnitedHealthcare Global policy, you should search for University of Alabama policies at https://www.uhcsr.com/ and select University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, you will see two plans listed – a Medical Plan for students and the Global Emergency Services Plan.  You should select Global Emergency Services and then follow the steps to purchase the supplemental medical evacuation and repatriation coverage online.