How to choose the best health insurance plan: Once you have made up your mind to go abroad for higher studies, of the many things that need to be taken care of is a health insurance plan. There are several reasons why a health insurance is necessary, primary being the access to expensive treatment. Without a health insurance, you may be forced to fork out huge money, as health care is pretty costly in the top study-abroad destinations. Also, most universities across the world actually mandate it as part of the admission requirement. So, you practically have no alternative but to buying a health insurance. The question is how to choose the best health insurance plan?
It is not that there are no affordable health insurance plans out there, but you have to be smart enough to realize that there are also certain conditions that need to be met by international students. For example, if you are applying to Harvard University and want to purchase a private health insurance plan, the plan must provide comprehensive health coverage throughout the period of your study, and include preventive and primary care, emergency services and surgical services. Otherwise, you will have to go for the on-campus health insurance Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP).
Students also need to remember that health insurance policies across countries aren’t homogenous, and there can be subtle to substantial differences. Here we bring you top health insurance tips that will help you tackle all the difficult questions regarding how to choose the best health insurance plan.
Top health insurance tips – points to consider while buying a health insurance
Begin the insurance selection well in advance: The thumb rule is that you should do proper research before finalising an insurance plan. It has been seen that pressed for time, students end up buying plans that don’t match the requirements of the university or they end up buying very expensive plans, when cheaper options were only a phone call away. Also keep in mind that there no such thing as the best health insurance plan that fits all countries and universities, since each country has its own set of requirements and regulations.
Check if there is a mandatory insurance plan offered by your university: If the university you are applying to have a mandatory insurance plan then there is no point buying private insurance plans or wasting time looking for one.
The mandatory insurance plan provides uniform and comprehensive coverage to international students. But the downside of such a plan is that they are more expensive than domestic plans. Like ICICI Lombard claims to offer the same benefits and coverage for one-third the rate of on-campus university premiums abroad. Considering how cheap domestic plans can be, it is only logical that you get in touch with your institute and enquire if there is a waiver option. If there is one, you can excuse yourself from buying the expensive on-campus plan and instead go for a less expensive domestic plan, one that provides similar coverage and benefits.
If there is a waiver option, you can either buy a domestic plan or contact a local agent in your area of study to buy the private plan.
In case of private health plan, ensure that it meets visa requirements: The best health insurance plan for you will be the one that complies with the visa requirements of the particular country. To elucidate the point, if you are applying to study in the US, there are different requirements under F1 visa and J1 visa norms. If you are on F1 visa, you aren’t restricted much by federal standards, but instead if you hold J1 visa, there is a long list of government rules that must be followed, including coverage for evacuation in times of emergency and repatriation.
Comparing insurance plans may help you find the best health insurance plan: If you are free to buy your own private plan, make a list of health insurance plans that you think fit the bill. Then start comparing them point by point, be it the cost of the plan or the extent of coverage. Just like comparing cost of study in different countries, you can figure out the best plan with a little effort.
While looking for an affordable health insurance plan, you need to compare the overall package. Here are some points that you must pay attention to
Whether the plan is accepted by your university
Benefits and exclusions, if any
Check the nature and extent of coverage
Flexibility in payment options and pricing
The payment options –monthly, yearly?
Also, how costly is the plan?
Coverage amounts for each benefit
Are there any internal caps for certain illnesses
Is the plan or insurance service provider recognized globally or reputed enough?
To be one the safer side
What if the university refuses to accept the plan?
Stay away from expensive plans, as there are many inexpensive options available
International student health insurance is mostly affordable, because students are typically young and are in good health. While it shouldn’t be difficult to find a plan that is reasonably priced, do consider points like if there are dependents involved and when the period of coverage changes, how the rates vary. Generally the best health insurance plans are those that have all the details clearly explained and allow you to pay the premiums in installments. Here is a sample insurance offered by Allianz Global Assistance to help you understand how insurance looks like.
Cost sample from Allianz Global Assistance:
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) price selection by month (Essential coverage effective 1 January, 2015)
Read the policy guidelines thoroughly
Finally, if you don’t want to regret to discover that a particular ailment isn’t covered because you didn’t bother to go through the policy, read every point thoroughly, especially those mentioned in fine prints. For, there are a set of conditions and exceptions. So sit with your policy agent and sort out everything before buying the plan.
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