J-1 Student Interns & Visiting Scholars

health care professional and a student

Health care costs in the U.S. are very expensive and could easily overwhelm an intern or scholar on a limited budget. Therefore, the U.S. Department of State and the State University of New York (SUNY) require all J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents in the U.S. to have sickness and accident insurance, and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance in effect for the duration of their Exchange Visitor status.

The health insurance plan for international students offered by SUNY meets the minimum coverage requirements. You will be required to enroll in and purchase this policy unless you can provide proof of comparable coverage through another plan.

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If I am employed by the University at Buffalo, must I enroll in the SUNY health insurance plan for international students?

If you have a University appointment, you may be enrolled in a health insurance plan as a benefit of your employment. The University will pay a portion of the cost for your (and your dependents’) coverage, but you will also be responsible for a portion of the cost. In addition, you will be required to purchase medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.

What are the specifics of SUNY’s health insurance plan for international students?

  • At the University at Buffalo, the Student Medical Insurance Office manages your health insurance policy and coverage.
  • For detailed information about SUNY's International Health Insurance policy, costs, and coverage terms, please read "GeoBlue Student Member Guide". Note: This insurance policy does not cover dental or vision care except in case of injury.

How do I enroll in and purchase the SUNY health insurance plan for international students and scholars?

Complete the Enrollment Form for International Student Health Insurance, and submit it along with payment to UB's Student Medical Insurance Office, 1Capen, North Campus.

Where will I be able to see doctors?

You may choose your own doctors, but we recommend that you sign up with UB’s Student Health Services, which has special arrangements allowing interns and visiting scholars to utilize its services for a fee. UB’s Student Health Services is conveniently located (Michael Hall, South Campus) and using its services will enable you to waive the $50 health insurance deductible, which you will be responsible for if you choose to see other doctors. In addition, if you need to see a specialist, Student Health Services will refer you to a specialist in the SUNY health insurance network, which will enable you to avoid additonal out-of-pocket costs. 

Please contact Student Health Services for more information about these services. Be sure to tell them that you are an “International Scholar or Student Intern."

NOTE: Use of the services provided by Student Health Services is not required in order to use the SUNY health insurance plan.  The services available at Student Health Services are not a substitute for the SUNY health insurance requirement and are not an insurance policy of any sort.

What about my dependents?

You must purchase health insurance for your dependents. If your family does not accompany you, but plans to join you in the U.S. at a later date, health insurance must be purchased for them upon their arrival. The Dependent Medical Insurance Enrollment Form may be downloaded or picked up in UB's Student Medical Insurance Office, 1Capen, North Campus. You will then need to complete and mail it to the health insurance company.

What if I have other health insurance?

If you wish to use a different health insurance plan, you must have your policy reviewed to make sure it meets and/or exceeds the U.S. Department of State's and SUNY's minimum requirements. You will only be permitted a waiver of the cost of the SUNY health insurance if your policy matches or exceeds SUNY minimum requirements and is approved by UB's Medical Insurance Office. 

NOTE: SUNY requires you to have medical evacuation and repatriation insurance. Therefore, even if you are able to waive the basic SUNY health insurance, you will have to purchase the SUNY medical evacuation and repatriation insurance unless you already have such coverage. (Medical evacuation insurance pays for you to be transported to the nearest medical facility or your home country in case of serious illness or injury. Repatriation insurance pays for your remains to be transported to your home country in case of death.)

To have your policy reviewed, the first step is to complete the International Health Insurance Waiver Form. Then, your policy will be reviewed by the Student Medical Insurance Office.

1Capen University at Buffalo

Phone: (716) 645-3036; Fax: (716) 645-3465

Email: asksmi@buffalo.edu