Health Insurance for International Scholars

The University and the ISSO strongly urge scholars to obtain adequate health insurance coverage for themselves and their families. As of September, 1994, federal regulations require all those in J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitor status to have adequate health insurance as defined by the U.S. Department of State Exchange Visitor Program. It is crucial for departments to make this clear to international visitors because the United States, unlike most other countries, does not have a universal health care plan; international scholars are often surprised to learn that the U.S. government is not a major provider of medical care. Moreover, medical costs in the United States, and particularly in the New York City area, are higher than in many countries. International scholars may not realize that an unexpected accident or illness could easily result in expenses of thousands of dollars. Those scholars on Columbia University payroll as full-time Officers of the University are eligible for medical benefits which may cover the requirements set by the Exchange Visitor Program for those in J Exchange Visitors status. Those not covered must find their own insurance coverage and should review the information provided in Health Insurance in the United States, which includes a list of insurance companies offering insurance to nonimmigrants.

Last Reviewed:November 23, 2005 Last modified: November 23, 2005
International Students and Scholars Office
Columbia University