Health Care and Insurance for International Students

Habif Health and Wellness Center on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis provides care for the evaluation and treatment of an illness or injury, preventative health care and health education.

Health Care in the U.S.

Health care in the U.S. is provided by many different organizations. It can be very confusing to understand how the system works and where to go for health care. Health care is provided at doctor’s offices, hospitals, walk-in urgent care centers and clinics. In addition, there are free-standing surgery and rehabilitation centers that provide care on an outpatient basis. There are also radiology imaging centers, pharmacies, skilled nursing facilities and many more. As you can see, it is a complex system to understand. The guide below is intended to help you understand the basics about health care in the U.S., how health insurance works, and the best way for WashU students to access care.

Your health and wellness is an essential part of your academic success while you are at Washington University in St. Louis.

Types of Health Care Providers

  • For basic care, call a doctor’s office to schedule an appointment. There may be a wait for new patients. You should bring your translated medical records with you.
  • Urgent care facilities have extended hours and are best utilized for minor illnesses or injuries, or when you can’t wait for an appointment at the doctor’s office.
  • For emergencies, call 911 or go to a hospital’s emergency room.

Health Insurance

The cost of medical treatment and hospitalization in the U.S. is extremely high. Washington University thus has a mandatory health insurance program. Students are automatically billed for the fee of this insurance. Your enrollment into the insurance is also automatic upon completing your registration for the first semester of each academic year. Coverage runs from August 1 to Dec 31 and January 1 to July 31. Spouses and dependents are strongly urged to purchase major medical insurance due to the high cost of medical treatment.

The health insurance policy at Washington University does not cover the cost of eye examinations, eyeglasses or dental work. These services are expensive in the U.S.; therefore, you are advised to have this work completed prior to leaving your country.

Habif Health and Wellness Center provides excellent care for the evaluation and treatment of illness or injury, preventive health care, counseling and psychological services and health education. Some Habif Center services have additional costs, such as laboratory tests, X-rays, procedures, etc. Your first stop for health care while at the university should be Habif Center.

The American College Health Association recommends that all universities require students to have adequate health insurance and what the benefit plan should include. Accordingly, Washington University offers a robust student health insurance policy for your convenience. We feel confident that our plan is one of the best student plans available. You should review and completely understand the health insurance plan. You are responsible for following the regulations of the plan in order to have the best coverage and least amount of out of pocket expenses.

Read the full guide to health insurance for international students (PDF)

J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program regulations require that J-1 Exchange Visitors (both student and scholar) and their J-2 dependent(s) carry health insurance meeting specific minimum standards (Code of Federal Regulations – 22 CFR 62.14). Failure to maintain required insurance coverage can result in termination of J status, violation of status and accrual of unlawful presence. Exchange visitors who are not eligible for Washington University benefits must obtain minimum, J-1 compliant insurance coverage before coming to the United States. Because health care expenses in the United States can be costly, coverage in the amounts listed below may not be sufficient to cover all expenses for medical care, and higher levels of coverage may be considered. More information is available on the Maintaining J-1 Student Status page.

Health History Form and Immunizations

New students are required by Habif Health and Wellness Center to complete online forms, including:

All health history, immunization and meningitis information must be submitted via the Student Portal using your WUSTLKey login information. This information does not need to be completed by a doctor.

Required vaccinations include measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). First year students also require a meningitis vaccine. In addition, you may need a tuberculosis test before coming to the U.S., depending on your county of origin. Information about your immunizations as well as your medical history form can be submitted to Habif through the Student Portal.