If you are an employee of OSU you may be eligible for health insurance benefits, see your department's HR/Payroll contact person.

Health Insurance in the United States

In the United States the cost of medical care is very expensive. Illnesses and accidents can easily lead to medical bills for thousands of dollars. Individuals are responsible for paying the costs of their own medical care. As most Americans cannot afford to pay for the high cost of medical care, most Americans prefer to pay for health insurance, which covers the majority of health care costs. Health insurance is usually supplied to employees through their employer. It is usually very expensive to purchase insurance as an individual.For international visitors, purchasing health insurance is the only way to protect against the high costs of unexpected medical emergencies.

How Health Insurance Works

The membership fee for a health insurance plan is called a premium. The premiums for all members of a health plan are combined to make a pool of money that is used to pay for the members' costs when they receive medical care.
A scholar will receive an insurance identification card when they pay a premium and become a member of a health insurance plan. Health care providers ask to see the card whenever the member receives medical care. The health care provider then will either bill the insurance company directly or give the member the paperwork that the member will need to file a claim with the insurance company. A claim is a form used to request payment of the bill. The insurance company evaluates all claims and will pay the health care provider directly if the claim is approved.
Insurance companies have limits on what types of health care they will pay for and limits on how much they will pay for each type of health care. The member is responsible to pay for any health care that the insurance company does not pay for. The member should read their health care policy very carefully to know what is covered and what is not covered by their health insurance plan.

Choosing an Insurance Policy

If you have questions regarding selecting an insurance policy please contact the OSU faculty member who is sponsoring your program.

Things to consider when choosing an insurance plan:

  • Deductible - Most insurance plans require the members pay part of the expenses before the insurance company will pay. Some companies have an annual deductible, which you pay only once a year if you use the insurance. Others require the members pay the deductible each time they have an illness or injury. The scholars will not be reimbursed for deductible payments.
  • Co-Insurance - Some insurance plans pay a percentage of members' expenses after the members pay the deductible amount. For example, the plan may pay 80% of expenses after the deductible has been met. The scholar is then responsible for the payment of the deductible and 20% of the remaining bill.
  • Specific Limits - Most plans have a limit on how much the insurance company will pay for each type of service. Other policies pay "usual" or "reasonable and customary" charges, which is the average amount that is charged by local health care providers for the service. If an insurance plan has low limits for services, the scholar will be responsible to pay for much more of the medical costs.
  • Lifetime or Illness Maximum - Most plans have a limit on how much the insurance company will pay for an individual member's bills or for any specific accident or illness or injury. If an insurance plan has low maximum limits, a serious illness or accident could exceed the insurance plan's limit, leaving a large bill for the scholar to pay.
  • Benefit Period - Some insurance policies limit the amount of time they pay for each illness or injury. After the benefit period for a condition has expired, the scholar must pay for the full cost of continuing medical treatment.
  • Exclusions - Most insurance policies will not pay for certain conditions. A scholar should read the list of exclusions very carefully to understand what is and what is not covered by the insurance plan.

The following companies provide policies that are specifically designed for international visitors to the United States. A sampling of ESL providers indicated to NAFSA (professional organization of international educators) that they work with the companies listed below.  The Office of International Services does not endorse any one of the following companies; they are listed solely for convenience. 

CMI Insurance Specialists


The Harbour Group, LLC


Cultural Insurance Services International


Rust & Associates


Gateway Insurance Plans


Wallach & Company, Inc.