International Student Health Insurance Requirements - University of Houston
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International Student Health Insurance Requirements

UH-System Policy: F and J Visa International Student Health Insurance Requirements.

Insurance Waivers Requests Due to COVID-19

The International Student and Scholar Services Office (ISSSO) coordinates compliance to issued SEVP guidance.

Their office will manage the communication and collection of information from UH international students holding F or J visas who will be outside of the United States due to COVID-19 during the entire Fall 2020 term insurance coverage period of August 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020.

The Student Health Center does not determine the status of an international student or who is required by the university to maintained health insurance.

Please contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSSO) if you have questions about your international status.

Refund Requests Due to COVID-19

The University of Houston System policy states that International students with "F" or "J" visa status are required to be covered under the UHS Student Health Insurance Plan or have equivalent health insurance coverage, regardless of the number of credit hours taken. At the time of registration, the student will automatically be enrolled in the mandatory UHS-endorsed Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and will be charged for the coverage period on their student financial account.

Due to COVID-19, international students are allowed to temporarily engage in distance learning, from within the U.S. or outside of the country. Your plan with United Healthcare does cover you anywhere (in or out of the US) through August 31, 2020. Depending on a student’s status, a student’s SEVIS I-20 will remain active for the Spring 2020 term and may continue through the Summer 2020 term.

The mandatory Student Health Insurance Plan coverage period for the Spring/Summer 2020 terms is January 1, 2020 – August 31, 2020. There is not a Spring Only coverage period.

A prorated refund of the Student Health Insurance Plan is not available from United Healthcare. Your plan with United Healthcare does cover you anywhere (in or out of the US) through August 31, 2020. The plan covers testing and treatment for the Coronavirus.

While we sympathize with the many situations students are facing during this time, in the interest of treating all students fairly and equally, the university is unable to make an exception to this UH-System policy.

International Students With "F" or "J" Visa Status

International students with "F" or "J" visa status are required to be covered under the UHS Student Health Insurance Plan or have equivalent health insurance coverage, regardless of the number of credit hours taken. At the time of registration, the student will automatically be enrolled in the mandatory UHS-endorsed Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and will be charged for the coverage period on their student financial account.

The University of Houston does not require international students with “non-F” or “non-J” visa status to show proof of health insurance.

It is the responsibility of F and J visa international students with an Authorized Medical Withdrawal or a SEVIS Authorized Reduced Course Load to carry health insurance that is equivalent to that offered by the UHS Student Health Insurance Plan.

Each UHS University shall establish guidelines to ensure compliance with the mandatory health insurance requirements. These guidelines shall include a process which requires automatic enrollment in SHIP for students in F or J visa status. A student may receive a waiver of this requirement if the student's alternative coverage meets the requirements outlined in this policy.

Important Information

It is the responsibility of each student to inform the University of their current visa status. Visa status changes that may affect or reverse a student's waiver or enrollment in the mandatory SHIP must be posted to the student's university account no later than the posted semester deadline.

Submit your status changes as early as possible and follow-up with the appropriate department(s) to ensure all changes are POSTED timely and accurately.

A student enrolled in an APPROVED distance education program and is residing outside of the United States for the full coverage period should have their status updated in their student account prior to semester waiver deadline to avoid being charged. Contact the Online and Distance Education Department, Learning Abroad or your department program if you require assistance.

Contact International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) if you have any questions about your international status.

ACTION REQUIRED: Each international student with “F” or “J” visa status must ACTIVATE their enrollment or submit a WAIVER each coverage period.

NOTE: The University must submit an eligible to enroll list to Academic HealthPlans each term. During the ENROLLMENT ACTIVATION and WAIVER period, allow approximately 4-6 hours after the health insurance charge has been posted to your university account for the eligible to enroll list to be processed before attempting to ACTIVATE your enrollment or submit a WAIVER.

Online Enrollment Activation and Waiver Period

  • Summer Term (All Sessions) 2020: May 18, 2020 – June 4, 2020
  • Fall Term 2020: July 20, 2020 - September 9, 2020​
  • Spring/Summer Terms 2021: December 14, 2020 - February 3, 2021
  • Summer Terms (All Sessions) 2021: May 17, 2021 - June 10, 2021

Insurance Enrollment Activation

You will need to ACTIVATE your insurance enrollment each coverage period that you wish to be enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan. It is recommended that you complete this ACTIVATION at least one week prior to the beginning of the new coverage period to ensure you have access to your insurance account.

Failure to ACTIVATE your enrollment in a timely manner will result in a delay in your ability to use your Student Health Insurance Plan. If you do not ACTIVATE your enrollment in the Student Health Insurance Plan, your enrollment will automatically activate approximately 10 days after the close of Open Enrollment Period for the designated coverage period.

  1. Go to My AHP Care
  2. Select the enrollment option from the waiver dashboard by selecting the green ‘ENROLL button under the “YES, I want the insurance” section.
  3. You will be prompted to confirm your selection and agree to the Terms and Conditions by entering your initials.
  4. Once submitted, you will receive an on-screen confirmation advising you of your enrollment.

Your enrollment will be submitted to insurance carrier for processing. Allow 2-3 business days for completion.

International Student Waiver Qualifications

An international student may request a waiver of this mandatory health insurance fee in the following instances with proof of acceptable alternate insurance.

  • The student is sponsored by the U.S. government, the government of the student's home country is recognized by the U.S. or by certain international, government-sponsored or non-governmental organizations, if the sponsor has provided a plan equivalent to the SHIP or a letter guaranteeing payment of all health care expenses.
  • The student is enrolled in an employer-provided group health plan which is equivalent to the SHIP.

International Student Waiver Process

In order to be approved for a waiver of enrollment in the mandatory SHIP, an alternate health coverage must meet or exceed the requirements as set forth below and be submitted each coverage period/semester by the waiver deadline date.

The waiver deadline is the official reporting day as posted on the Academic Calendar.

If medical evacuation and repatriation that equals the amounts as compared to the SHIP are not included in an otherwise acceptable policy, a rider must be purchased.

Minimum Requirements

International students that are subject to this policy must have health and medical evacuation/repatriation coverage that meets or exceeds the requirements below.

  • Medical/preventative care benefits equivalent to the UHS-endorsed Student Health Insurance Plan with no annual limits.
  • Contains no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
  • Imposes no provisions for co-insurance that exceed 25% of the covered benefits.
  • Medical evacuation coverage amount is no less than $50,000.
  • Repatriation coverage amount is no less than $25,000.

International students that are subject to this policy must have health and medical evacuation/repatriation coverage that meet or exceed the following SHIP coverage period:

  • Fall: August 1st – December 31st
  • Spring/Summer: January 1st – August 31st
  • Summer Only: June 1st – August 31st

International "J" Student Visa Holders must have a policy whose deductible does not exceed $500 annually.

International "F" Student Visa Holders must have a policy whose deductible does not exceed $1,500 (individual)/$3,000 (family) annually.

Individual plans, travel plans, or plans that require individuals to pay for treatment before being reimbursed will NOT be accepted for waiver approval.

Some examples of unacceptable healthcare plans include, but are not limited to:

  • Healthcare plans purchased from HealthCare.gov, other government service organizations.
  • Healthcare plans purchased directly from an insurance company or other organization.
  • Healthcare Spending Accounts
  • Healthcare plans that do not cover the full requirements listed on the waiver criteria.

Submitting a Waiver

If your alternate coverage meets the above minimum requirements, go to My AHP Care to submit electronic copies of the following documents with your online waiver request:

  • A scanned copy of the front and back of your health insurance ID card indicating the student as a covered member.
  • A scanned copy of your complete policy, including coverage amounts, exclusions, and limitations in English using US dollars.
  • A scanned copy of your medical evacuation and repatriation coverage (if you have this coverage).

Notification of acceptance or rejection of this request will be sent to your University email within seven business days. Late submissions will not be accepted.