Health Insurance &  Medical Resources

It is strongly recommended that all scholars purchase sufficient health insurance coverage, as health care in the U.S. is very expensive. In addition, J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents are required to have health insurance for the duration of their program and provide proof of coverage to OISS in order to maintain their valid immigration status.

Minimum requirements for health insurance under J-1 regulations

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 for each accident or illness (a higher benefit is better)
  • Medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000, should you need to be sent home on the advice of a doctor
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000, should you die while in the U.S.
  • Coverage must include the semester for which you are at Rice University
  • Minimum 75% coverage for each accident or illness
  • Maximum deductible of $500 per condition per plan year
  • A pre-existing “wait period” limitation of no more than six months
  • The policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of home country government (for those covered by their home country's national insurance plan), or the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by the U.S. government (an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-1" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above).
  • Policy must be in English
  • All exchange visitors and any accompanying dependents may also be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (22 CFR 62.14(a))

Options to meet the legal requirements for J visa holders

Option 1) Aetna Insurance, only for Rice Benefits Eligible Employees

General Information

Under the Rice Aetna plan, the Rice employee pays a portion of the health insurance charges, and Rice University pays another portion. Currently the Aetna Memorial Hermann ACO and the Aetna Select HMO options are accepted for J immigration purposes.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains (ME&R), which are required for J visas, are not covered by any of the Rice Aetna plans. Therefore, when choosing the Aetna plan, Rice employees with J Exchange Visitor visa, will have to also purchase a supplemental Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains coverage from another insurance company.

Step 1: Rice University Aetna Plans (Aetna Memorial Hermann ACO or Aetna Select HMO options only)
Step 2: Beta supplemental Medical Evacuation & Repatriation Plan

Estimated Charges

Estimated Aetna Insurance Charges as of May 2021 (all fees subject to change)

Rice Plan (For Benefits-Eligible Employees only)
Scholar only $89-$107/month
With spouse $344-$403/month
With children $300-$351/month
With family (spouse and children) $584-$684/month

How to Enroll

Step 1: Enroll online either into the Rice Aetna Memorial Hermann ACO or the Rice Aetna Select HMO plan through the Office of Human Resources (HR) here. You will be able to enroll only after you check in with HR. You will be able to use Single Sign On (SSO) with your NetID and password to login to the iO system. Please go to the Me Tab, Benefits, Add any eligible dependents under People to Cover, and enroll in the plan of your choice.

The Rice Aetna plans start on the first day of each month. Employees with start date on the first day of the month can enroll in Aetna any day of that month. Employees with start date other than the 1st of the month will be able to enroll in Aetna the following month and will have to purchase another health insurance for the interim period between their program start date and the start date of their Aetna plan.

Step 2: Enroll into a supplemental Medical Evacuation & Repatriation plan electronically:
• Go to https://www.betins.com/
• Click on the Evacuation circle (at the bottom of the page)
• Click on Beta Scholastic
• Click on Quote This Plan
• Enter your information and click Next
• Your quote should be approximately $40 for one year of coverage

Providing Insurance Proof to OISS

Instructions on how to provide OISS proof of your enrollment in Aetna and Beta

  1. To obtain proof of enrollment in the Rice University Aetna plan:
    • Log in your iO account (http://io.rice.edu/) via Single Sign On (SSO) with your NetID and password (please note you will have access to your iO account only after you check in with HR)
    • Go to Me
    • Go to Benefits
    • Click on Your Benefits box
    • Click on Rice Employee Benefits in blue. You can change the date to the first of the following month if that is the effective date of your benefits.
    • Print report as PDF file
  2. To obtain medical evacuation and repatriation supplemental coverage through BETA, please go to http://www.betins.com/.
  3. If you choose other supplemental medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage, please secure documents that show 1) coverage, 2) effective date, and 3) expiration date.
  4. Continuing J-1 Scholars: Complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Information form at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance and follow the instructions for submitting proof of Aetna enrollment and a copy of your Medical Evacuation and Repatriation insurance.
  5. New J-1 Scholars: Upload the health insurance documents in the OISS Portal as part of your check-in process.

Interim insurance

The effective date for the Rice Aetna plan is the first day of the month and if your program at Rice starts before your Aetna coverage goes into effect, you will need to purchase health insurance coverage for the interim period until your Rice Aetna employee plan starts.

Instructions on how to provide OISS proof of health insurance coverage for the interim period until your Rice Aetna employee plan starts

  1. Secure an electronic copy of your health insurance policy
  2. Your Insurance Company Representative completes the J Exchange Visitor Insurance Verification Form for Insurance Company
  3. Continuing J-1 Scholars: Complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Information form at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance and follow the instructions for submitting your health insurance documents.
  4. New J-1 Scholars: Upload the health insurance documents in the OISS Portal as part of your check-in process.

Please note: Only fully completed and signed form will be accepted. For renewal you only need to submit Verification form completed by your insurance company.

Option 2) Wellfleet, approved insurance plan meeting all minimum requirements

General Information

If you are coming in as an unpaid Academic Visitor, or are not considered eligible for Rice benefits, you will need to buy insurance coverage that meets all minimum legal requirements. The Wellfleet approved insurance plan summary is the preferred option to cover yourself and your family.

For any specific questions, additional information and assistance, please contact the insurance representatives directly:
Enrollment Issues: Pinnacle Student Insurance: 877-627-0360
Paul Fisher – Phone: 877-626-0360; email paul@psihealthplans.com
Nancy Braun – Phone: 877-626-0360; email nancyb@psihealthplans.com

Benefits and Claims Issues: https://studentinsurance.com/Schools/?Id=895
Wellfleet: https://studentinsurance.com/
PO Box 15369 Springfield, MA 01115-5369
Customer Service Phone: 877-657-5030 (M-Th 8:30am - 7:00pm EST; Fri 8:30am - 5:00pm EST)

Estimated Charges

Estimated Wellfleet Insurance Charges as of July 2021 (all fees subject to change)

Wellfleet (Approved insurance plan available to meet J-1 scholar health insurance requirements)
Scholar $1728/year or $144/month
For spouse $1728/year or $144/month
Each child $1728/year or $144/month
3 or more children $5184/year or $432/month

How to Enroll

To enroll yourself and/or your dependent(s) online, please go to www.wellfleetstudent.com. Enter ‘Rice University’ under ‘Search for your school’. Then click on Enroll, and choose “Enroll Visiting Scholars”. After that please select your requested coverage dates.

You will need to pay with a credit card and there will be an additional $25 transaction fee.

If your program at Rice is for one month or less, you can enroll for one month only.

For any specific questions, additional information and assistance with enrollment, please contact Nancy Braun (Phone: 877-626-0360; email nancyb@psihealthplans.com) directly.

Providing Insurance Proof to OISS

Instructions on how to provide OISS proof of your enrollment in the Wellfleet approved insurance plan

  1. Enroll online and pay the premium via credit card. Please make sure to use the link under "Visiting Scholars." Upon successful submission, you will receive a confirmation email.
  2. Continuing J-1 Scholars: Complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Information form at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance and follow the instructions for submitting your health insurance documents.
  3. New J-1 Scholars: Upload the health insurance documents in the OISS Portal as part of your check-in process.

NOTE: If your program falls into 2 different Academic Plan Years (2021/2022 until 07/31/2022, and 2022/2023 from 08/01/2022), please work directly with the insurance company for enrollment. For more information please contact Nancy Braun (Phone: 877-626-0360; email nancyb@psihealthplans.com).

Both the Rice Aetna plan with supplemental ME&R coverage, and the Wellfleet approved insurance plan, meet the legal visa requirements.

Option 3) Alternate Insurance Plan

General Information

Rice internationals may choose to participate in an alternate insurance plan of their choice, so long as the insurance plan meets all the requirements listed below and proof of coverage is provided.

Minimum requirements for alternate insurance plan under J-1 regulations:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 for each accident or illness (a higher benefit is better)
  • Medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000, should you need to be sent home on the advice of a doctor
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000, should you die while in the U.S.
  • Coverage must include the semester for which you are at Rice University
  • Minimum 75% coverage for each accident or illness
  • Maximum deductible of $500 per condition per plan year
  • A pre-existing “wait period” limitation of no more than six months
  • The policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of home country government (for those covered by their home country's national insurance plan), or the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by the U.S. government (an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-1" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above).
  • Policy must be in English
  • All exchange visitors and any accompanying dependents may also be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (22 CFR 62.14(a))

Please verify that the policy you choose meets all the J-1 legal requirements prior to purchasing, otherwise you may be required to purchase a different policy to properly comply. Furthermore, be sure you meet all eligibility criteria prior to enrolling, for instance visa type, program objectives, dependent's etc. set by the insurance company, so you will not be denied service should you need to use your insurance.

While we understand that travel policies are an attractive option for those coming for a short-term visit, Rice does not recommend their use. These policies are typically not ACA compliant which will impact visitors who are considered residents for tax purposes and those who suffer from chronic conditions (ex: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol) or those who have pre-existing conditions (ex: cancer, pregnancy). Since travel policies typically have limited medical coverage and will not cover those medical needs or medications one should proceed with caution.

As with any insurance plan, please be sure to not only meet the minimums required by the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, but only purchase insurance from a reputable company that will be there to assist you should you need to use your insurance.

Providing Insurance Proof to OISS

Instructions on how to provide OISS proof of your enrollment and coverage information of an alternate insurance plan

  1. Secure an electronic copy of your health insurance policy
  2. Your Insurance Company Representative completes the J Exchange Visitor Insurance Verification Form for Insurance Company
  3. Continuing J-1 Scholars: Complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Information form at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance and follow the instructions for submitting your health insurance documents.
  4. New J-1 Scholars: Upload the health insurance documents in the OISS Portal as part of your check-in process.

Please note: Only fully completed and signed form will be accepted. For renewal you only need to submit Verification form completed by your insurance company.

Dental and eye examinations

The health insurance fees listed above generally do not include routine dental and eye examinations or charges for dental work and eyeglasses. The normal charge for a full dental exam is about $150. Eye examinations cost about $250. Glasses can cost $150or more.

Additional Resources