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Health Insurance Information for International Students

The health insurance system in the United States is much different than in most other countries. The process of obtaining medical care and navigating the complexities of health insurance coverage and payment in the U.S. can be quite challenging. This is true even for domestic students but particularly for international students. The staff at UCI’s Student Health Center understand the challenges that you face and we are here to assist you in securing high quality, affordable health care while you are a student at UC Irvine.

Student Health Center at UC Irvine

Student Health Center (SHC) provides basic primary and specialty medical care on the UCI campus for all students at costs that are typically lower than the surrounding community. Visit the Student Health Center website for location, hours of operation and information about our services.

Admission Requirements for All New Students at UC Irvine

Visit the New Student page on SHC’s website to learn about the non-academic admission health requirements and health insurance requirements that must be completed by all new students.

The University of California Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP)

Visit the Health Insurance page for detailed information regarding UC SHIP benefits, costs, dates of coverage, waiver requirements and other important information regarding the UC SHIP health insurance plan.

As a registered student at UCI, you are automatically enrolled in UC SHIP when your registration fees are assessed and appear on your campus billing or “ZOT” account. UC SHIP coverage begins on the first day of the academic term for your School. If you purchase other insurance coverage that meets all of the current UC SHIP Waiver Criteria, then you can waive enrollment in UC SHIP and receive a credit on your campus billing or “ZOT” account for the amount of the UC SHIP fees for that term.

If you are enrolled in UC SHIP, then you will be responsible for paying a portion of the costs for your medical care and UC SHIP will pay a portion. The vast majority of health insurance plans in the United States operate in a similar manner. Your portion of medical care costs are referred to as “copays”, “coinsurance” and “deductibles”. Refer to the UC SHIP Benefits and Information page for detailed information.

Compliance with J-1 and J-2 Visa Health Insurance Requirements

Federal regulations require all J visa holders to carry health insurance throughout the period of participation in the Exchange Visitor Program as a condition of maintaining legal status. The University of California Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) meets all J visa health insurance requirements, including coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation.

You are automatically enrolled in UC SHIP when your registration fees are assessed and appear on your campus billing or “ZOT” account. Since UC SHIP coverage does not begin until the first day of the academic term for your School and if you arrive in the United States before school starts, then it may be prudent for you to obtain short-term health insurance coverage in order to comply with the J visa requirements for that period. Visit the Student Insurance Advocate Program page for information and assistance regarding short-term health insurance options as well as options other than UC SHIP.

Do You Need Health Insurance Before Coming to UC Irvine?

Whether or not to purchase health insurance prior to arriving at UC Irvine depends upon many factors including the circumstances of each student’s unique situation. Some UC Irvine students, both domestic and international, have other health insurance that meets UC’s waiver criteria and, therefore, do not need UC SHIP. Insurance plans that are designed for international students must meet all of the UC SHIP Waiver Criteria and often they do not. In these cases, the student’s request to waive UC SHIP will not be approved. Please review your plan’s benefits in advance of completing the online UC SHIP waiver application to ensure that it complies with the waiver criteria.

Travel plans, reimbursement programs from your home country or home government, and plans owned, headquartered or operated outside of the United States will not qualify to be used to waive enrollment in UC SHIP.

Since UC SHIP coverage does not begin until the first day of the academic term for your School and if you arrive in the United States before school starts, then it may be prudent for you to obtain short-term health insurance coverage both to ensure access to medical care but also to comply with the J visa requirements for that period of time.

What About Health Insurance for Your Dependents?

The University of California Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) offers coverage for dependents of students.  For information on UC SHIP health insurance coverage for your dependents, visit Dependent Enrollment.