Scripps Research Logo

International Services Office

Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirements (for J visa holders)

J-1 scholars are required to maintain health insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents throughout their J-1 exchange visitor program in the United States. The requirements for health insurance that are outlined below summarize the requirements defined by US law. These are the minimum requirements for each J-1 scholar and J-2 dependent. The International Services Office (ISO) strongly recommends coverage at a higher level than the minimum legal requirement because the current costs of medical care for serious conditions are very high. Coverage of at least $250,000 per incident is strongly recommended. Below are the J-1 legal requirements:

  • Medical benefits per accident or illness of at least: $100,000 minimum;
  • Deductible per accident or illness not to exceed $500;
  • Repatriation of Remains: $25,000;
  • Expenses related to Medical Evacuation: $50,000
  • The insurance must cover “pre-existing conditions” (current health issues) after a reasonable waiting period;
  • The insurance may include provisions for co-insurance of no more than 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness;
  • The insurance must not exclude coverage for risks inherent in the activities required during your visit.

Please note: the J-1 regulations state, “J-1 Sponsors must terminate an exchange visitor’s participation in their program if the sponsor determines that the exchange visitor or any accompanying spouse or dependent willfully fails to remain in compliance with this [health insurance] section.”

If you are eligible for insurance through TSRI, please be aware that not all TSRI insurance plans at TSRI meet all of the J-1 requirements. Please notify the person who gives your Benefits Orientation that you have a J-1 visa status, so that they can let you know which TSRI plans meet J-1 requirements. In addition, J-1 scholars who purchase TSRI insurance must purchase Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance Coverage separately, as this is not covered by TSRI. One option for purchasing this coverage is to use Betins Insurance (see webpage or phone 866-552-8834). 

J-1 visitors must have health coverage as of arrival in the US. Therefore, J-1 visitors should purchase short-term traveler’s insurance to cover at least the first month in the US for themselves and any family members. Even if health insurance is offered to you by TSRI, the coverage will not begin until employment begins. For this reason, travel insurance is always a good idea. In general, many airlines and credit card companies offer travel insurance.

If needed, the International Services Office (ISO) can provide you with additional information about health insurance in the US and a list of companies that offer insurance to J-1 visa holders. Please email ISO with any questions.