J-1 Exchange Visitors are eligible to purchase medical insurance from the Academic Health Plans/BlueCross BlueShield (AHP/BCBS) insurance company. Detailed information about plan coverage is available on the AHP/BCBS Website. To enroll in this plan, visit our Health Insurance Plan Enrollments page. An insurance advisor also is available at the International Office if you have more detailed questions about AHP/BCBS insurance benefits or wish to enroll in person.
If you will be employed by UT Austin for at least 20 hours per week and for a duration of 4.5 months during your J-1 program, you may be eligible for health insurance benefits as part of your appointment. More information can be found on the UT Employee Insurance for Scholars page. Please consult your hiring department regarding your eligibility for employee benefits.
Insurance requirements for J-1 Scholars
U.S. Department of State regulations require all J-1 Exchange Visitors to have medical insurance for themselves and any accompanying J-2 family members for the duration of their program. Fulfilling this requirement is essential, not only because of the U.S. Department of State regulations, but because medical treatment in the United States is very expensive without proper insurance coverage.
Willful violation of the insurance requirement is a violation of J-1 status and can result in the termination of your J-1 program by ISSS, in accordance with immigration regulations.
You are required to provide evidence that your insurance, and that of your J-2 dependents, meets the U.S. Department of State requirements outlined below:
- Medical Benefits per accident or illness: $100,000
- Medical Evacuation: $50,000
- Repatriation of Remains: $25,000
- Deductible per accident or illness: $500
Note: ISSS does not have the expertise to evaluate individual insurance policies. The Exchange Visitor must check with his/her insurance provider to verify that the policy meets the minimum insurance requirements set by the U.S. Department of State.
Exchange Visitors are required to purchase insurance for their entire program duration if the program (as shown on their DS 2019) is shorter than one semester. If the program will continue for more than one semester, Exchange Visitors may purchase coverage for the remaining duration of the current semester upon arrival and renew their insurance in semester increments. It is the Exchange Visitor's responsibility to provide proof of continuous insurance coverage to ISSS.
J-1 visa holders must notify ISSS of dependents who are currently in the United States or who arrive subsequently. Please make an appointment with a scholar advisor to present evidence of insurance coverage for dependents.
If an Exchange Visitor enters the U.S. without sufficient insurance coverage, s/he is eligible to purchase a UT student health insurance plan with Academic Health Plans/BlueCross BlueShield, which satisfies all U.S. Department of State insurance requirements for the J-1 program. This coverage can be purchased by making an appointment with the insurance advisor or on our Health Insurance Plan Enrollments page. Stand-alone repatriation/medical evacuation coverage can be purchased online through International SOS. Please see the instructions here for assistance with this purchase.
Insurance Premiums and Dates of Coverage
- Dates vary
- Scholar: $209
- Spouse: $209
- Children: $334
- Dates: Sept. 1, 2018 – Aug 31, 2019
- Scholar: $2,504
- Spouse: $2,504
- Children: $4,010
- Dates: Sept. 1, 2018 – Dec. 31, 2018
- Scholar: $837
- Spouse: $837
- Children: $1,340
- Dates: Jan. 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017
- Scholar: $1,036
- Spouse: $1,036
- Children: $1,659
- Dates: Jan. 1, 2019 – Aug 31, 2019
- Scholar: $1,667
- Spouse: $1,667
- Children: $2,670
- Dates: June 1, 2019 – Aug 31, 2019
- Scholar: $631
- Spouse: $631
- Children: $1,011
Academic Health Plans/BlueCross BlueShield (AHP/BCBS) covers sickness and injury expenses. An enrolled individual will need to pay the first $350 of covered medical expenses per year (called a “deductible”) before the insurance company will begin to pay. The deductible is waived for visits to a doctor's office, which are a flat cost of $20.00-$40.00. Once the deductible is met, insurance pays 80% of covered expenses when you see a preferred provider, and you will be responsible for the remaining 20%. Out-of-network service providers are allowed under this insurance plan option, but when going out of the network insurance pays 60% with the remaining 40% being paid out of your own pocket. Coverages are subject to the insurance provider’s approval of charges.
In most circumstances, you will incur the lowest medical expenses by using University Health Services (UHS), located in the Student Services Building (SSB). The UHS center will waive the $350 AHP/BCBS Insurance deductible. However, there is a $50 subscription fee that must be paid each semester for access to UHS. This subscription fee does not need to be paid if you do not use UHS. Please note that UHS is only available to the J-1 Exchange Visitor and not to J-2 dependent family members. With few exceptions a J-1 visitor who wishes to use UHS will need to have either purchased Academic Health Plans/BlueCross BlueShield medical insurance or have been provided UT Employee Medical Insurance. For more information about UHS, see http://www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu/.
Foreign/Travel Insurance Policies for Scholars
J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitors who will be insured within the United States under a foreign or travel insurance policy must submit a copy of the insurance policy to ISSS. If applicable, the policy documentation should have an English translation, indicating amounts and dates of coverage. Individuals carrying policies that do not meet the minimum levels of coverage outlined by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will be required to purchase insurance that meets DOS requirements, which must include medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.
Pregnancy Insurance Coverage
Many travel insurance plans will not cover pregnancy. If you or your spouse is currently pregnant and you are not eligible for UT Employee medical insurance, you may purchase the UT Student Health Insurance Plan, which will cover the pregnancy and birth while you are in the United States. UT Employee medical insurance policy will cover a pre-existing pregnancy. If you are eligible for UT Employee medical insurance, please contact Human Resource Services (HRS) as soon as possible.
Vision and Dental Care
It is important to remember that in the United States certain kinds of elective medical care, such as eyeglasses or dentistry are ordinarily not covered by regular medical insurance. Exchange Visitors should take care of such needs before leaving home, or may elect to purchase separate coverage for these needs through a private company. AHP/BCBS Insurance offers dental insurance for a supplemental cost if you are covered under the Student Health Insurance Plan.