International Admissions - The University of Iowa

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Review Iowa's Health Insurance Requirements

Even though health care can be very good in the United States, the cost for this care for the individual is extremely high. The United States does not have a national health insurance program. International students are not eligible for government assistance with medical bills, nor may they freely earn money to pay medical bills.

Health insurance is required
Since it is imperative to have resources to cover costs of possible accidents or unexpected illnesses that require hospitalization, ALL international students at The University of Iowa are required by the school to have health insurance. In addition, U.S. immigration law mandates J-status holders to have adequate health insurance coverage.

U.S. law does require health insurance for J-2 dependents, as well. It is wise to purchase health insurance for any dependents who accompany you to the United States. However, do not purchase a health insurance policy that does not meet the university's Insurance Exemption Guidelines.

University health insurance policies
Many UI students choose to be automatically enrolled in the basic university Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). This occurs when they register for classes. The monthly premium is charged to their U-bill. You will need to make arrangements for anything other than single-student coverage under this plan. Students also have the option to purchase dental insurance.

Graduate students have a second health insurance option known as UI GRADCare. Teaching and research assistants are eligible for a University contribution toward either a medical insurance option and toward dental insurance. Additional information will be sent to those who qualify.

The SHIP plan is based on the assumption that you will use the university's Student Health & Wellness for your routine health care needs. However, you may use any provider you choose.

Under UI GRADCare, students must use Student Health & Wellness or University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for routine care and family members must use University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics physicians.

You will get details about both policies during the International Student Orientation program.

Both policies:

  • Cover medically necessary procedures and prescriptions.
  • Cover pre-existing conditions (medical conditions that existed before you bought the coverage).
  • Go into effect the first day of the month of the semester you begin classes at the university.
  • Are valid anywhere in the world.

If you already have coverage
Your coverage may satisfy the University’s health insurance requirement. For example, perhaps you have private insurance, or are insured by your government or a sponsoring agency (e.g., Institute of International Education, Academy for Educational Development, etc.), or you have a scholarship from (or are sponsored by) an agency that provides health insurance or assumes payment of your medical costs. In order to use this coverage, please first read the Exemption Guidelines.

Please submit a Proof of Coverage Form (see link to this form under "Resources") or confer with officials in the University Benefits Office for more information.