You have really slogged hard for this much awaited opportunity of pursuing your higher studies abroad and now you want to single-mindedly concentrate on your education. Taking a reliable student health insurance policy is an absolute necessity and should be the top priority for international students.
Forearmed with a dependable insurance policy one can easily guard oneself against any unexpected financial burden in the event of sudden illness/injury. Along with the health insurance policy, at all times, remember to carry travel insurance from the date of your departure from the home country to the day you leave US soils.
The million dollar question now is whether the insurance should be purchased by a local Indian insurance company or one should take university insurance. You must carefully deliberate on the below mentioned factors before finally settling for one.
Factors to consider before you decide
University insurance policy: At the very outset you must know the insurance policy of the university you are attending. You must ascertain whether it is mandatory to take the insurance from the concerned university or you have the flexibility of buying it from your home country. If Even if the university gives you a choice to pick up a plan for a local insurance company, you need to check if the predesigned plan of your insurance company is in line with university requirements. If not you can request them to customize it accordingly and most insurance companies will happily comply to add a feature or two. Also, if your spouse is working in US, please check if the university allows you to be part of their family coverage benefits.
Pricing factor: Insurance policy purchased from Indian insurance company is any day cheaper than the one bought in USA and the difference is substantial. While you may be tempted to buy a policy offered at a low premium and guaranteeing maximum coverage, always make a genuine attempt to know the plan in detail and do a thorough comparative study. There are numerous hidden clauses and riders in the policies that need your due consideration.
Policy deductible and Co-payment clauses: Policy deductible is the out of the pocket expense which insurer needs to bear before he can avail the benefits of his health insurance. Co- Payment is the amount that insured has to pay every time he visits the doctor/hospital. This amount is over and above the policy deductible. As a rule the lesser policy deductible and co-payment are, the higher premium would be. You need to diligently pick up an insurance that has the right balance.
Sublimits and Pre-existing ailments coverage: This is a very crucial factor to be considered before buying an insurance policy. Sublimits are the upper limit applied on room rent, ICU expenses, Diagnostic tests or ambulance charges by the insurance companies. A lower sub limit means that you would not be able to take services from a good hospital and, therefore, choose a policy either without sublimit or has a higher sublimit.
Hospital network: Before picking up a policy, always have a look at the list of hospitals that come under the hospital network defined by the insurance company. University insurance may provide you with a better network of hospitals and may even have PPO tie up with good hospitals. This would make life easy as all the treatment would be cashless and claim process too would be comparatively smoother.
Claim settlement history: Always look at the claim settlement ratio of the company you are buying insurance from. After spending a hefty amount on skyrocketing premiums, claim denial is the last thing you want to face. Make sure you read every word of your insurance policy and not get tricked by exclusions and riders written in almost unreadable fonts. Also try and call up the customer service helpline to check the quality and promptness of their service.
Your home insurance company may have an upper hand as far as cost of the premium is concerned whereas university insurance may score high in terms of better hospital network, no sub limits and cashless benefits. Medical expenses are exorbitantly high in the States and you must pick up an insurance policy that ensures quality treatment without any financial worries. Make sure that you leave no stones unturned and weigh every pro and con before you take the final call.