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Study US: Where to buy health insurance?
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August 25, 2006

Continuing with our series of FAQs on studying in America, we asked a selection of students, already in the US, to share the wisdom of their experiences with us. This is what some of them wrote back to say.

Our topic: Should I purchase medical insurance in India or in the US?

Reply 1 from Ramesh

Most colleges accept medical insurance from India. However, it is always better to check with the international office in your university about this. Also, I would recommend that you buy insurance in US itself as it's easy to use it when needed. Most insurance costs roughly around $200-$300 per semester. Also, universities have their own minimum standards for the insurance you buy -- like minimum coverage of $100,000, 80% or more coverage and so on. So my recommendation is that you buy medical insurance in US.

Reply 2 from Rediff student support

It is always safe to carry medical insurance for 15 to 30 days. It won't cost more than Rs 2,000. It is crucial for the first few days till you get enrolled in your university health insurance scheme.

Reply 3 from Aaditya from Duke University

You'd be better off first finding out from your respective university if you can purchase a health insurance plan from India. In some universities (I know in mine, Duke, for sure), it is mandatory to purchase their health insurance plan. I would, however, recommend you take travel insurance. It would cover you for your trip and in situations where your baggage gets lost, which is a very common situation by the way.

Reply 4 from Murali Thoota, MBA from SUNY, Buffalo (in the USA since 2001)

It is better to get medical insurance in the US. Usually, your university would have a tie-up with an insurance company and they offer medical insurance at subsidised rates. This would be the best way to get medical insurance.

If you buy medical insurance from India, it would be difficult to actually use it. The insurance company in India may or may not have coverage (doctor network) in the city in which your university is located.

Alternately, if you go with university-affiliated medical insurance, that would be easily accepted in the university health centre and other local health providers. This will give you instant access to the care you need when you need it utmost.

So, it is NOT advised to buy medical insurance from India.

If you feel you will need medical insurance while you are travelling (from India to US), and for the initial days of your residence in US (before your university affiliated insurance programme starts), then buy transit medical insurance. This would cover you for a week or two. That should be sufficient.

Reply 5 from Tushar Rakesh, Masters in Computer Engineering, San Jose State University

The option for buying student insurance, varies from university to university. Some universities allow Indian medical insurance, while for some it is strictly a no-no. You can ask your prospective university regarding it; I'm sure they will be glad to help you out. My university allows students to come up with their structure of their own medical insurance; then it is up to the university to accept or to reject it. But my suggestion to you would be take the medical insurance from the university itself. It will save you a lot of hassles. :) 

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