Whether you are studying abroad, volunteering abroad or just backpacking across Europe, many college students venture outside of the country sometime during their four years at college. While it is exciting to explore new cultures and see historic sites, it is important to stay safe while abroad. One way to protect yourself while abroad is getting international student health insurance. Many students don’t bother to think about health insurance when they are preparing for their trip, but it is an important factor in making sure you can get adequate medical treatment if the need arises.
Many students choose to explore other countries by studying abroad. Students who choose this route are lucky because they usually have international health insurance included in their program price. This takes care of the hassle to find out if you are covered while in another country.
“It is common for study abroad programs to offer health insurance in the program fee, so students don’t need to worry about finding it on their own,” said Johanna Bailey, University Study Abroad Consortium Spain and India Advisor.
Although students might be covered while they are studying abroad, many students choose to stay abroad to travel after their program ends. In this case, students need to make sure they are still covered under the program’s international student health insurance.
“Most programs that offer health insurance, give students the option of extending their health insurance past the length of the program,” Said Bailey. “You can extend coverage for up to two months for around $50. It’s very affordable.”
As for those who are not studying abroad through an official program and are simply traveling to another country, there are options to make sure you are covered. The first step when deciding whether or not you need to invest in international student health insurance is to know what your health insurance already covers. If you have health insurance in the U.S., you need to see if it covers you if you are out of the country. According to the U.S. State Department, most domestic health insurance plans do not include international insurance. In that case, you need to get international health insurance. This will help you protect yourself in case of an emergency. There are many options for international health insurance. Some policies cover hospital stays but won’t provide coverage if you need to be flown back to the U.S. for emergency treatment, so it is important to know exactly what coverage you are getting in your health insurance policy.
Additionally, if you fall ill while abroad, foreign hospitals will admit you, but they won't let you leave until your bill is paid. If you don’t have any sort of health insurance, this can be a costly financial burden.
If you are backpacking through Europe on a budget and are worried that international student health insurance will be too expensive for you, don’t worry. There are affordable health insurance policies available. According to Travel Insurance Center, students can get international health insurance for as low as $40 for an entire month.