Your questions answered: ISO International student insurance

Margreth Mwakyusa – Staff Writer

As an international student from Tanzania, I know students in situations similar to mine ask several questions about insurance in the US.

As the majority of us international students were on our parents’ plan before traveling to Dordt University or enjoyed free health care in our own countries, the U.S. healthcare system adds a number of complications to the international student experience. 

The following are a few questions and answers received by the international office about ISO (International Student Organization) insurance.

Does ISO cover treatment plans for COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, ISO covers the COVID-19 vaccination, which the university strongly encourages. Also, Wal-Mart offers free vaccinations.

What does the international plan cover?

The plan covers sickness, diseases, and other medical costs including doctors visits, imaging testing, ER visits, and more. However, certain medications are not covered, so be sure to ask your healthcare provider. The plan also covers travel expenses for returning home and evacuation, if need be. 

How does the coverage work?

It is a complicated process that depends on someone’s injury or sickness. 

Generally, when an international student receives treatment, they will be billed. So, they will need to file a claim where insurance pays a portion of the cost, while the remainder of the bill becomes the student’s responsibility. 

Notably , injuries “dangerous activities” including skateboarding are not covered, especially because medical attention in the U.S. is comparably expensive.

How do I change insurance plans or providers?

ISO does not work on a monthly basis. Rather, it is status-wise. So, the insurance company charges the student every semester and the student directly pays them. If a student changes providers, they are responsible for contacting their current insurance provider.

What does Dordt University’s health insurance plan cover?

The university’s insurance plan for international students, which meets the visa requirements of the U.S., covers the treatment of major and minor injuries and sicknesses. 

In addition, it’s important to schedule procedures and doctors’ visits as early as possible. Also, visiting the emergency room for non-emergency reasons costs a significant amount of money. 

What is a claim and how do you file a claim?

The filing of claims presents a new concept for international students. When visiting a doctor or the hospital, a student should show the health care provider their insurance. 

Then, they ask the health care provide to file a claim with the insurance company. Typically, the deductible for international students is $100. 

How do I choose a plan?

Step 1: First, check the university’s requirements. While Dordt covers these bases regarding ISO, changing insurance plans requires the international student to do their own research.

Step 2: Second, compare a provider’s insurance plans and assess each plan’s coverage and benefits. Generally, international student insurance should cover repatriation and medical evacuations such as ambulance rides. 

Also, consider a plan’s maximum coverage (how much the provider is willing to pay for a claim) and deductibles (how much the student is required to pay before insurance begins to cover payment) It is the student’s responsibility to know the cost of medical services, potential out-of-pocket expenses, and how to pay the provider.

Step 3: Third, compare the international student insurance plan to the university’s.

Step 4: Fourth, compare the types of doctors and hospitals covered in your international student insurance plan. The university’s plan provides more than 500,000 doctors and 4,000 hospitals, so the plan remains competent anywhere in the U.S.

How does ISO insurance work with behavioural health?

ISO does not cover the majority of mental/behavioural health costs, but the university provides eight free counselling sessions themselves and the Promise Center in Sioux Center offers affordable health services. 

If international students think of additional questions, they are encouraged to log onto their ISO portal and speak with an expert.

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