The University of Minnesota requires all J-1 international scholars and J-2 dependents to purchase U of M health insurance. J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents are required to have either a U of M Employee Benefits Medical Plan or the U of M Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) for International Scholars.
This requirement applies to J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents on all U of M system campuses.
Upon your arrival to campus, you will need to verify your health insurance with the Office of Student Health Benefits. Complete and submit the appropriate insurance forms to their office regarding the status of your insurance. You may submit your insurance forms to their office prior to your arrival, if you wish to do so.
DO NOT purchase other health insurance plans from your government or private insurance providers; otherwise you will pay for two insurance policies. This health insurance requirement is addressed in your Statement of Responsibilities that you sign as part of requesting your first DS-2019 from the U of M.
If you are not eligible for U of M employee benefits, you must purchase the Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) for international scholars. Coverage under the SHBP is guaranteed for incoming J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents from the day they arrive at the U of M. Your payment for the SHBP will allow you to be seen at Boynton Health Service for most services at no cost and some services at a reduced cost. Contact the Office of Student Health Benefits for more information about this plan. See below for information regarding the limited exceptions to purchasing U of M health insurance.
Eligible scholars should purchase the U of M Employee Benefits health insurance (medical plan). Generally, if scholars receive a salary from the University for three months or more at 75% time employment or more, they and their J-2 dependents are eligible for University employee health insurance. You should contact your U of M hosting department to ask about your employee benefits eligibility. For additional information, contact the Employee Benefits office.
If you are not eligible for University employee benefits or choose not to enroll in a University employee medical plan, you must purchase the SHBP as described above. See below for information regarding the limited exceptions to purchasing U of M health insurance.
University employee health insurance goes into effect on the first of the month after the individual’s hiring date. You must, therefore, purchase another plan that provides the required coverage for the period between the date of arrival in the U.S. and the date your employee insurance begins. The SHBP insurance can be purchased for this period. See Guidance for Hosting Departments below for related advice for this.
The following are two exceptions to purchasing the U of M health insurance:
ISSS is not authorized to approve exceptions. For exception-related questions, please contact the Office of Student Health Benefits.
If you do not purchase the U of M insurance for yourself and your dependent(s), and do not qualify for an exception as approved by the Office of Student Health Benefits, you will not be eligible to use ISSS’s services during your stay at the University. These services include:
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) regulations require J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents to carry health insurance that meet specific minimum standards. Health insurance must be maintained from the day you arrive in the U.S. through the entire duration of your J-1 program.
If you willfully fail to carry health insurance for yourself or your dependents after your program effective date, the U of M must terminate your J-1 program and report this to the U.S. Department of State.
In addition to the regulatory reasons for carrying health insurance, health care in the U.S. is complicated and very expensive. One illness or injury can financially devastate you and your family (one day in the hospital can cost well over $10,000). International scholars and their dependents are not eligible to use U.S. government or Minnesota-paid public assistance programs. Health insurance is designed to prevent depletion of your savings if an accident or illness occurs.
If you have a dependent child who is a U.S. citizen, you are required to purchase health insurance for that child that meets certain minimum requirements or pay a “shared responsibility payment.” This is a requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The easiest method for meeting this requirement is to add your American citizen child to your required U of M insurance policy. All of the University's plans are compliant with the ACA’s requirements.
Hosting Departments should:
On July 31, 2008, departments received a letter from Robert Jones, Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration, stating the U of M requires all international scholars to enroll in the University sponsored health insurance.