J Visa Health Insurance Requirements and Options

The U.S. Department of State (USDOS) requires that J-1 exchange visitors and their accompanying J-2 dependents hold primary insurance and medical evacuation and repatriation insurance for the duration of the J exchange visitor program. Coverage must begin no later than the "Program Begin Date" and must not end before the effective "Program End Date" listed on the DS-2019.

Per USDOS, minimum levels of health insurance coverage must provide: 

  1. medical benefits of at least $100,000 per illness or accident 
  2. deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  3. expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000
  4. repatriation of remains in the event of death in the amount of $25,000
  5. Coverage of pre-existing conditions after a reasonable waiting period
  6. Co-payments that do not exceed 25 percent
  7. Does not exclude benefits for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange visitor program

In addition, USDOS requires that the corporation underwriting the insurance policy must have one of the following ratings:

  1. an A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above;
  2. an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above;
  3. a Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-” or above; or
  4. a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above

Your policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation meeting the USDOS rating requirements or backed by the full faith and credit of the home country government designated sponsor or Scholar’s employee group plan (22CFR§62.14). Repatriation and evacuation coverage will protect you and your family in the event of an emergency and are as important as the primary medical benefits.

Insurance Options

All J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents are required to maintain health insurance coverage that meets U.S. Department of State requirements for their program duration. Due to liability reasons, ISSO is unable to verify if private, home government or UCSF-specific insurance plans meet US Department of State requirements. Scholars must independently confirm that their insurance policies meet federal requirements.

Option 1: Scholars who hold the UCSF Postdoctoral Title Code 

All UCSF postdocs, including international postdocs, are eligible for health care benefits through the University of California Postdoctoral Scholar Benefits Plan.

Your PI is required to pay for most of the cost of your benefits for you and your eligible dependents. You pay only a small percentage of your monthly premium and are required to make a co-payment when you visit a health care provider. There is only one circumstance in which your PI may not be required to pay for your benefits: if your salary is paid by an external funder and this funder states in writing that they will provide you with a specific amount of money (separate from your salary) to pay for your benefits. If the amount for benefits from your funding source is less than the total cost, then the PI must cover the remaining amount from his/her own sources. Refer to the UCSF Postdoctoral Affairs Office website for more information about postdoc benefits.

Option 2: UCSF salaried employees who may be eligible for UCSF Benefits

Review your UCSF appointment letter to verify your eligibility for UCSF coverage. Your UCSF health insurance eligibility and options vary depending on your appointment title, percent time and contract duration. If you are uncertain, ask your UCSF Benefits representative if you are eligible for UCSF health insurance and your estimated monthly insurance costs for yourself and your J-2 dependents. Please note that non-postdoctoral UCSF insurance options do not meet all USDOS requirements. Scholars are independently responsible for ensuring that their coverage meets USDOS requirements, and are responsible for the cost of purchasing additional coverage for their program duration.

Option 3: Without Salary scholars who are not eligible for UCSF Benefits

If you are not eligible for UCSF health insurance, and you do not hold the APM 430 visiting student title for at least three months, you are responsible for paying for your entire health insurance fees, including coverage for each J-2 dependent. Insurance must meet USDOS requirements. A few options are listed below. This list is not exhaustive nor does it imply any endorsement or product guarantee by UCSF International Students and Scholars Office.

Scholars are required to confirm in advance of purchasing coverage/entering the US that the insurance they purchase will also provide coverage for COVID-19 and COVID-19 related illnesses for themselves and family members. Insurance carriers may require the purchase of a supplementary plan for COVID-19 related coverage.



Important Insurance Considerations

1. Potential Program Termination

Failure to maintain USDOS insurance requirements for the J-1 scholar or J-2 dependents for the entire program duration will result in program termination. If an EV program is terminated, both the J-1 and J-2 must return to their home country immediately. Unfortunately, if a scholar's program is terminated due to lack of insurance coverage for the J-1/J-2, the scholar is not eligible to apply for reinstatement.

2. Insurance Attestation Required at HR Onboarding

Your HR generalist will require that you sign the following attestation as part of your University onboarding. Please be sure that you have confirmed that your J-1 (and J-2) insurance policies meet USDOS insurance requirements in advance of U.S. arrival.

J-1 Scholar Attestation: I understand that by law, as a J-1 exchange visitor, I am required to maintain health insurance which meets the U.S. Department of State (USDOS) minimum requirements for myself and each J-2 dependent while my program is active. I have independently confirmed that my insurance coverage meets all USDOS requirements. I understand that UCSF insurance plans may not meet all USDOS requirements (such as medical evacuation and repatriation insurance), and I agree to independently purchase additional coverage to meet the requirements prior to my program start date. By signing below, I confirm that I have purchased insurance for myself and each J-2 dependent for the period that my program is active, OR, if eligible, I understand and agree to the cost for UCSF insurance being automatically deducted from my paycheck. I confirm that I will purchase insurance that meets USDOS for potential future extensions for myself and each J-2 dependent, and agree not to have a lapse in my insurance for my J-1 program duration. Finally, I understand that failure to comply with this requirement may result in the termination of my exchange visitor program, and that I will not be eligible for reinstatement.

3.  Affordable Care Act

J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act