The J1 visa scholar program enriches our many universities and institutions by allowing individuals to come the US and share their knowledge. We are certainly proud to be able to provide medical insurance for these individuals while they are away from their home countries. Indeed, part of the requirements of the J visa is that individuals have appropriate J1 visa medical insurance coverage.
However, I get many calls each month from visiting scholars looking for coverage for their spouse and/or dependent children. This is a more difficult issue since most policies require the J1 scholar to be the primary on the policy (that is the first person named on the policy). There is one policy which allows the J2 spouse and/or children to be placed as primary policy holders. This policy is called Patriot Exchange and is offered by International Medical Group (or IMG). It is a very economical plan with excellent benefits that I often suggest for J1 scholars as well.
One of the unique benefits of the Patriot Exchange plan is that if the institution has a health center, the insured only pays a $5 copay in place of the $100 deductible. This can mean significant savings for the scholar and his/her family. As with all our plans, coverage is for sudden illness and accident only but can be used at any doctor or hospital. A downside to the policy is that there is no maternity coverage (some few student/scholar plans offer this coverage) nor any coverage for pre-existing conditions.
As a final note, the insurance requirements for the J1/J2 visa are changing and as of May 15, 2015 the maximum limit will go up from $50,000 to $100,000 maximum. The good news is that for holders of Patriot Exchange who purchased plans with a $50,000 maximum, they will be able to "upgrade" their plans to $100,000 maximum to meet requirements without having to make a new purchase by simply paying the difference in price on the remainder of the plan. Contact one of our service representatives for more information or help making this change!
We hope that this will insure our visiting friends have sufficient medical coverage should they come to need it during their stay in the US. It is our hope, however, that all are healthy and happy for the duration of their stay and journey home!