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))

Please see below for details regarding the insurance options:

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 themselves and their family, and Rice University pays another portion. 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 plan with 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 June 2020 (all fees subject to change)

Rice Plan (For Benefits-Eligible Employees only)
Scholar only $83-$101/month
With spouse or children $277-$377/month
With family (spouse and children) $541-$642/month

How to Enroll

Step 1: Enroll online into the selected Rice Aetna plan through the Department of Human Resources here. It will take 1 week to have your information in the Benefits system. You will be able to enroll Rice Aetna 1 week after you check-in with HR. Aetna plan can only start on the first day of each month. Employees with start date on the first day of the month can enroll Aetna any day of that month. Employees with start date other that the 1st of the month will be able to enroll Aetna the following month and will have to purchase another health insurance for the missing days between their start date and the start day of their Aetna plan.

Step 2: Enroll into a supplemental Medical Evacuation & Repatriation plan electronically here.

Providing Insurance Proof to OISS

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

Submit a screenshot of the "Employee Summary Report" and a copy of your Medical Evacuation and Repatriation insurance at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance.

  1. To obtain proof of enrollment in the Rice University Aetna plan:
    • Log in www.benefits.rice.edu
    • Click on Enroll in Benefits (Blue square on the right side)
    • Log in with your netID and password
    • Click Enroll Now (Pink square on the right side)
    • Click on Employee Detail Report (on left side under My Doc)
  2. To obtain medical evacuation and repatriation supplemental coverage through BETA, please go to http://www.betins.com/, and submit a copy of page 3 with your information from your "BETA Scholastic Enhanced Certificate of Insurance" at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance.

If you choose other supplemental medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage, please submit the documents that show 1) coverage, 2) effective date, and 3) expiration date at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance.

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. Submit the completed forms and the copy of the health insurance policy in advance at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance.
  4. Bring the completed Insurance Verification Form to your check-in appointment.

Please note: Only fully completed and signed forms will be accepted. For renewal you only need to submit both Verification forms.

Option 2) SAS/CHP, 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 SAS/CHP 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 company directly.

Estimated Charges

Estimated SAS/CHP Insurance Charges as of June 2020 (all fees subject to change)

SAS/CHP (Approved insurance plan available to meet J-1 scholar health insurance requirements)
Scholar $1824/year or $152/month
For spouse $1824/year or $152/month
Each child $1824/year or $152/month
3 or more children $5472/year or $456/month

How to Enroll

To enroll online into the preferred SAS/CHP plan for the 2020-2021 new academic year between 08/01/2020 and 07/31/2021, you will need to pay with a credit card and there will be an additional $25 transaction fee. You can also download and complete the online form and send it with a check by mail.

If your program at Rice is less than three months you will need to complete the paper based enrollment form.

If your program at Rice involves two insurance plan years (2020/2021 until 07/31/2021, and 2021/2022 from 08/01/2021) you would need to complete 2 separate enrollment forms for each plan year.

For any specific questions, additional information and assistance, please contact the insurance company directly.

Providing Insurance Proof to OISS

Instructions on how to provide OISS proof of your enrollment in the SAS/CHP approved insurance plan

  1. Enroll online and pay the premium via credit card or download the paper enrollment form from the SAS website. Please make sure to use the link under the "International Scholars" section.
  2. Upon successful submission, you will receive a confirmation email. Submit the confirmation of coverage you have received upon enrollment at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance. You may also bring it to your check-in appointment.

NOTE: If your plan falls into 2 different Academic Plan Years please work directly with the insurance company for enrollment. For more information please contact Ms. Diana Miller dianam@sas-mn.com.

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

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.

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. Submit the completed forms and the copy of the health insurance policy in advance at https://oiss.rice.edu/J1insurance.
  4. Bring the completed Insurance Verification Form to your check-in appointment.

Please note: Only fully completed and signed forms will be accepted. For renewal you only need to submit both Verification forms.

Additional Resources