Health Insurance and Your Off Campus Program

Required health coverage for 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. Additionally, the level of coverage must include

  • inpatient, outpatient (for illness and injury),
  • emergency care and transportation, and
  • diagnostic services coverage.

This ensures that you, the student, can continue to study abroad while addressing everyday illness, minor injury, or mental health issues. All students who study abroad on a Willamette Sponsored Study Abroad Program complete a Health Insurance - Your Coverage sheet during the pre-departure process. That form tells our office how each student will meet the health insurance requirements and what coverage you will have while abroad.

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. If you usually waive out of the university plan, be sure that your existing plan meets the requirements or plan to purchase other insurance just for study abroad.

OPTIONAL study abroad plan available: Often employer plans through parents do not meet the study abroad coverage requirement. Most often this is because they will only cover emergency services.

If you do not have access to a health plan that meets the coverage described above, the Office of International Education has an optional study abroad plan that includes health, accident, and global assistance services. This plan is NOT connected with the WU Student Health Plan and is only valid for international programs that are sponsored through OIE. Enrollment is optional. Contact OIE oieadvising@willamette.edu if you want more information. We can forward the policy brochures to you.

There are also many study abroad plans readily available on the market. We encourage you and your parents to examine your needs, what is already included in the program, research other plans, and examine cost to determine if this optional plan will meet your needs.

Other considerations: Mandatory program health insurance

Some programs require a specific 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.

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. Students 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. Students are still subject to Willamette University's Student Health Insurance enrollment as described above;

C) requires health insurance, but does not require you to 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). 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 and the requirements of the host university.
  • 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 the required level of health insurance as described above. An id card and a brochure of the emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage will be given to you during the pre-departure process.

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 coverage criteria for pre-existing conditions.

Please read and understand your coverage BEFORE dropping any other insurance that you already have. We recommend that you 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

Information about the student health plan: Willamette University Student Health Insurance Plan

Other Health Insurance (not through Willamette University)

For students in category C described above, students will need to attest that they are enrolled in an appropriate plan. 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. The enrollment step will be communicated to students by the host program. It may involve the student enrolling themselves or the host program enrolling students directly. The program plan may not meet the WU study abroad insurance requirement. 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.

DOUBLE (or triple) COVERAGE: 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.  We recommend that you carefully consider the advantages of retaining any current health insurance. 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 reimbursed is to submit the claim form to the insurance company.

  • 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. This is usually called "global assistance" or "assist services". This coverage is included in the insurance plan but is almost always administered by a different company. These companies specialize in having detailed information about medical care facilities, arranging emergency medical transportation, and often cover services such as covering "companion" expenses if you end up in the hospital for an extended period.

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

In addition to reviewing your insurance policies, 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?

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.