International Scholars

Required Health Insurance

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) sets a standard minimum level of health insurance coverage required by law for J-1 scholars to participate in an exchange visitor program in the United States. Therefore, you are required to purchase a health insurance coverage that meets or exceeds that standard for yourself and your J-2 dependents throughout your entire stay in the U.S. Failure to do so would violate your non-immigrant status, and you would no longer be eligible to participate in Ohio State's J-1 program. Thus, you will be required to purchase a health insurance plan that meets or exceeds these requirements by selecting one of the options below:

The Gallagher Accident & Sickness Plans

For many scholars, having a health insurance plan that meets only DOS requirements is sufficient for their needs and budget. For this reason, Ohio State provides all scholars the option to purchase Gallagher A&S, which meets the DOS requirements.

Gallagher A&S plans are available to all J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents regardless of whether you are employed in the United States. Ohio State offers these accident and sickness plans because ACA-compliant plans are typically very costly for individuals to purchase unless it is through U.S. employment. If you are not receiving any health insurance benefits from a U.S employer, these plans are cost-effective and meet the DOS requirements.

Because your costs are lower, it provides health care coverage only when you are sick or need medical care due to an accident. Dental coverage is not included for J-1 scholars or J-2 dependent spouses, but it can be added at an extra cost by purchasing Gallagher Voluntary Dental Insurance. There is no option for vision coverage.

We recommend that you enroll in a plan prior to arrival in the United States. Learn about the plans, including exclusions and limitations on coverage.

Ohio State Health Plans and Nationwide Children's Hospital's Health Plan

Ohio State or Nationwide Children's Hospital employees are eligible to purchase one of the employment-based insurance plans. In most cases, getting a plan through your employer is recommended rather than the Gallagher A&S plan – employer-based plans are compliant with the ACA and provide more comprehensive coverage. Also, in most cases, the cost is reasonable, but it depends on your specific terms of appointment/employment. Check with your host department regarding the types of benefits offered to you.

If you are eligible for an Ohio State or Nationwide Children's health plan, selecting one of these plans will likely be the best option for you. These plans provide comprehensive insurance coverage at a reasonable cost to you because it is a group plan. Ohio State's plan includes dental and vision coverage, but there is an additional cost for J-2 dependents. Dental and vision through Nationwide Children's is optional and can be included for an additional cost.

Keep in mind, these plans do not include the medical evacuation and repatriation (M&R) coverage required for J-1 and J-2 non-immigrants because these plans are designed for U.S. citizens. If you purchase an Ohio State or Nationwide Children's health plan, you will be required to purchase a supplemental plan for M&R coverage for yourself and J-2 dependents. We suggest you purchase the medical evacuation and repatriation plan also offered by Arthur J. Gallagher and Co. to meet this requirement. The Gallagher M&R Plan costs $45 per year per person. If you select a different M&R plan, the minimum requirements for coverage are $50,000 for medical evacuation and $25,000 for repatriation. Additionally, you must complete an M&R Compliance Form and submit it to the Office of International Affairs (OIA).

These employment-based health insurance plans through Ohio State and Nationwide Children's Hospital are managed by human resource offices at each institution, and enrollment is offered after you arrive in Columbus. Individuals employed through Nationwide Children's should seek information regarding the details of the insurance plan directly from the hospital. Click on the following links for more information about the Ohio State employment-based health insurance plans:

Alternative ACA Comprehensive Insurance Information & Compliance Application

Those not eligible for one of the employment-based insurance ACA compliant plans and who want more coverage than the Gallagher A&S plan may purchase an ACA/DOS compliant plan. You may need to opt-out of the Gallagher A&S plan via an application process to purchase an ACA-compliant plan available in the government Health Insurance Marketplace.

Depending on your own or your family's health care needs, an ACA plan may be advisable – these plans provide much more coverage, including coverage for pre-existing conditions and wellness care. For scholars who have been in the United States in the past or who may be staying for an extended period, you may even be required to purchase an ACA-compliant insurance plan – if you don't, you will be fined.

You may prefer, or be required to purchase, an ACA-compliant health insurance plan. However, you may not be eligible for the ACA employment-based plans offered by Ohio State or Nationwide Children's Hospital. If this is the case, email to request information about other ACA plans that are available to J-1 visiting scholars and their families.

However, you are responsible for determining the quality of the insurance coverage and if the insurance you select meets all the ACA and DOS rules. Be aware you must agree to the risks associated with selecting your own plan and agree to continue to verify your insurance coverage to OIA throughout your stay. To do this, email Latasha Carruthers to request the OIA ACA/DOS Alternate Health Insurance Compliance Application form. Complete the application form and return it to her. She will notify you if you have received approval to use an ACA alternate health insurance plan which also meets DOS requirements. To learn more about the DOS and ACA rules and to determine if you are subject to ACA requirements, review the following resources.

DOS and ACA Rules and Resources

U.S. Internal Revenue Service links regarding the "Substantial Presence Test" to determine if you are subject to the ACA rules. If you are subject, you need to purchase an ACA-compliant health plan, or you will be fined a penalty fee.

Government Sponsored J-1 Scholars Insurance Information

If your home government is paying for your visit as a J-1 scholar and has purchased a health insurance plan on your behalf, OIA must receive proof regarding this plan. The plan must be a U.S.-based plan that meets DOS and/or ACA requirements. To provide proof you are in compliance with the regulations, you must complete the ACA/DOS Alternate Health Insurance Compliance Application form. Email to request the form.

Important Advice Regarding Dependents and Pregnancy

Depending on your situation and the health plan you choose, health insurance coverage for J-2 dependents can be very expensive. If this is the case for you, we suggest you do not bring your family on the J-2 status. However, family members can visit you on the B-2 tourist status, and they will not be subject to the same insurance requirements and costs. Learn more.

If you become pregnant during your stay, having a health insurance policy that covers costs related to pregnancy and childbirth is strongly recommended. Not all insurance policies cover these costs, so we recommend you look at the policies and choose one that does. If conception occurred before arrival in the United States, it would be considered a "pre-existing" condition. Some insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions, which would result in you having to pay all costs. Estimates for costs vary; for more information, read about the costs of having a baby in the United States.

Enrolling in the Health Insurance Plan(s)

Enroll in the health insurance plan before arriving in the United States or immediately after arrival. If you select the Gallagher A&S Plan, enroll online. If you select one of Ohio State's or Nationwide Children's Hospital's plans due to your employment, you will receive enrollment information after you arrive in Columbus.