Health Insurance and Your Off Campus Program

Health Insurance Requirements

Required health coverage for off-campus program participation

As a Willamette Sponsored program participant, you are required to have health insurance that covers for the duration of your program, in the country of your program and for any travel you do before or after your program. The Willamette University Student Health Insurance plan, is valid for study abroad. Every Willamette student, even while abroad, is automatically enrolled in the Willamette Student Health Insurance. For information on this policy, enrollment, cost, and your option to decline the university's health insurance, please refer to the Student Health Insurance webpage. This insurance is administered through Bishop Wellness Center at WU.

Other considerations: Mandatory program health insurance

Some programs require a mandatory health insurance plan. Categories A & B below have mandatory health insurance. Category C programs require health insurance but a specific health insurance is not needed- the student just needs to meet Willamette University's requirements for a plan. All students who will study abroad on a Willamette Sponsored Study Abroad Program complete a Health Insurance Information sheet during the pre-departure process. That form will tell our office how each student will meet the health insurance requirements and what coverage they will have while abroad.

Each Willamette Sponsored Program treats insurance differently. Consult the Willamette Sponsored Programs Cost Matrix on your Program page for insurance information. Your program will fall into one of these categories:

A) includes health insurance automatically at no extra cost to the student - students cannot decline this insurance and are still subject to Willamette University's Student Health Insurance enrollment as described above;

B) requires the purchase of specific health insurance- billed and paid for according to the program provider (not Willamette University) or the host university's processes - students cannot decline this insurance and are still subject to Willamette University's Student Health Insurance enrollment as described above;

C) requires health insurance, but not require you purchase a specific program insurance. You must attest that you have insurance coverage (either in the Willamette Student Health Insurance Plan or another health insurance plan). This is done on the Health Insurance Information sheet during the pre-departure process. Students are still subject to Willamette University's Student Health Insurance enrollment as described above.

  • KEEP IN MIND that your insurance may need to meet the requirements of a specific country's VISA process also.
  • If you are considering purchasing special insurance JUST FOR THE PERIOD OF STUDY ABROAD, wait to purchase until you know whether the visa process (if you have one) requires any specific coverage minimums.

Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains

This coverage is required of all study abroad participants. The Willamette University Student Health Insurance Plan does include Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains coverage.

  • The evacuation piece covers you in the event that you are medically ill to the point of needing to return home, possibly with special care en route.
  • The repatriation piece covers the cost of transporting your remains (if you should die while abroad) back to your home country.

Also, Willamette University students on Sponsored Programs automatically receive a MINIMAL level of these two coverages as long as the student has health insurance that includes these items below - an id card as well as brochure of the emergency evacuation and repatriation health insurance will be given to you during the pre-departure process.:

  • outpatient care
  • diagnostic services
  • hospital/emergency care

Pre-existing conditions

A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION is a term used by insurance companies to describe a medical condition for which you may have already been seen or otherwise given advice by a healthcare professional. However, each insurance company sets its own parameters on how long something is considered pre-existing. Many insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions or have explicit waiting period and other coverage conditions for pre-existing conditions.

Please read and understand your coverage BEFORE dropping any other insurance that you already have. If you have a pre-existing condition, you may wish to retain all current insurance policies that you have used for ongoing/recent conditions in addition to any new coverage you acquire. The Willamette University Student Health Plan covers pre-existing conditions.

Health Insurance Enrollment

Willamette University Student Health Insurance Plan

See the following webpage for information about the student health plan through Willamette University: Willamette University Student Health Insurance Plan

Other Health Insurance (not through Willamette University)

For students in category C described above, students are still subject to Willamette University's Student Health Insurance enrollment and waiver process.

For students in category A or B as described above, there is no way to opt out of health insurance that is mandated by the program, either by the host university or the host country. Students are still subject to Willamette University's Student Health Insurance enrollment/waiver process.

More than One Health Insurance Plan

Students are encouraged to carefully evaluate any existing health insurance they have and determine the risks and advantages to being enrolled in more than one health plan. There are many other reasons-including personal, financial, or health reasons - you may want to have coverage in more than one health insurance plan while abroad.

This is a personal decision based on the enrollment and cancellation policy of each insurance; pre-existing conditions; services that are covered or not covered (exclusions); deductibles; personal preference for coverage levels; etc.

DOUBLE COVERAGE: We recommend that you carefully consider the advantages of retaining any current health insurance in addition to any mandatory coverage. This is especially true if you have any pre-existing conditions (see definition above) or foresee need for coverage for any of the excluded conditions. Finally, you should investigate how a disruption in your usual health insurance would affect your coverage upon return from the program. Consult with your personal insurance company to determine how the two policies will work together. Go to Willamette University Student Health Insurance Plan for information on the policy, enrollment, cost, and your option to decline the university's health insurance.

Using U.S. Health Insurance Outside of the U.S. - Major Differences

Most medical plans or overseas health providers require that expenses be paid up front. After the service has been rendered, the most common way to get payment back is to submit a claim for reimbursement of this payment.

  • Check with all of your health insurance plans to learn how you will handle medical expense claims while abroad or in a different state.
  • Be prepared: Arrange access to extra cash for medical situations where you must pay at the time of service. Most medical facilities take credit cards.

Recommendation: Bring blank claim forms for your health insurance with you.Collect the information you need to file a claim while you are at the doctor, clinic, or hospital abroad. Your insurance company will want information such as diagnosis, treating physician/facility, treatment plan, etc. The physician, clinic, or hospital will probably be willing to complete some of this information on the form at the visit.

FIND CARE: The Willamette University Student Health Plan offers international contact representatives to help you find a qualified healthcare professional and provides advice regarding getting the most appropriate care for you if you become ill or injured abroad. Check with your own plan about similar coverage and assistance.

For more information about health topics and well-being abroad please refer to the "Staying Healthy Abroad" chapter of your study abroad handbook.

Questions for your health insurance provider

If you will retain any existing health insurance in addition to the health insurance plan associated with your program (all categories of students), here are some questions that will guide your conversation with your health insurance provider:

  • Does your health insurance plan cover me while studying outside of my home country? If so, does it cover me in the countries where I will be studying AND traveling (before and after the official program dates)?
  • Do I need prior authorization from you (the insurance company) before any medical services can be rendered abroad?
  • Is there an international phone number to use for help with medical concerns while I am abroad?
  • What is the claim process for reimbursement- for example if the doctor or hospital will not bill your health insurance company directly? How do I file a claim for medical costs abroad?
  • What are the maximum benefits for sickness and injury while I am abroad?
  • Are my pre-existing conditions covered? How are pre-existing conditions determined? Who makes that determination?
  • Are there some pre-existing conditions that are INCLUDED?

Further Health Resources

For a list of online resources about health and safety abroad please visit our Tips and Resources page as well as the Health and Safety chapters in your study abroad handbook.