Health Insurance for International Students

Health insurance

All international students on F-1 student visas are required to have health insurance while they are enrolled at UH. Students can enroll in a UH-endorsed student health insurance plan or provide proof of enrollment in a health insurance plan whose benefits meet the minimum requirements set by the University.

While enrolled at UH, you are required to have coverage for each semester that you attend classes. You are required to have insurance that covers you for the entire time that you are enrolled at UH Hilo. If you enroll in summer session classes, you must have health insurance during that period.

UH Hilo has limited health care services on campus at the Student Medical Services. Unless it is an emergency, it is recommended that you first visit the Student Medical Services office (located in the Campus Center Room 212) if you are experiencing any health problems before arranging to see a health care provider off-campus. UH Hilo also offers free, confidential personal counseling. Click here for a short video about mental health for international students in the U.S.

Why are international students required to have health insurance?

Medical care in the U.S. is expensive. Adequate health insurance is essential because the U.S. government does not pay for medical expenses. While other countries may cover the health care expenses for its citizens, in the U.S. each individual is responsible for his or her own medical expenses. A visit to the emergency room or a stay in hospital can cost thousands of dollars and the lack of adequate health insurance coverage can be financially devastating.

If you become ill or injured and have no insurance, it could prevent you from continuing your education because of the financial costs. Therefore it is very important to have insurance that covers medical expenses. By requiring international students to have health insurance, the University’s goal is to have students fulfill their educational goals.

Click here for a short video that explains the health care system in the United States. (The video is also available in Spanish and Chinese.)

What are the minimum requirements?

1. Comprehensive medical coverage of at least $100,000 US per accident/illness
Your insurance plan must provide medical benefits (doctor visits, hospital, surgery, laboratory tests, x-rays, etc.) of at least $100,000 US for each accident or illness. For example, if you are in an accident you will have to pay your portion (deductible, if applicable, and your co-payment) and your insurance policy must pay for covered expenses until a limit of at least $100,000 US is reached. Then if you get sick you will have to pay your portion again (deductible, if applicable, and your co-payment) and your insurance policy must pay for covered expenses until a limit of at least $100,000 US is reached.

2. Inpatient/Outpatient medical (including mental health) coverage at no less than 75% of the usual/customary charge
Your insurance plan must pay at least 75% of covered medical expenses (including mental health coverage) for both inpatient (stay at an inpatient facility/hospital) and outpatient (doctor’s office, outpatient department of a hospital or ambulatory surgery center) services. Even after you pay the deductible, an insurance plan will usually cover only a percentage of your medical expenses. For example, if the policy pays 75%, you would need to pay the remaining 25% (coinsurance/copayment).

3. Repatriation coverage of at least $25,000 US
If you die in the U.S., your plan must provide at least $7,500 US to send your body/remains back to your home country.

4. Medical evacuation coverage to home country of at least $10,000 US
If, due to a serious illness or injury, your doctor recommends that you return to your home country for treatment and/or recovery, your plan must provide up to $10,000 US for you to return home.

5. No more than $500 US deductible per accident or illness
Your insurance plan deductible cannot exceed $500 US for each accident or illness. Most insurance plans require you to pay for part of your medical expenses (this is called the deductible) before they will start to pay for any covered services. While the requirement limits the deductible to $500 per accident or illness, many plans offer either lower deductibles or no deductibles at all. Some plans also have deductibles per year instead of per accident or illness. As long as your plan does not exceed the $500 US deductible (per accident/illness or per year) then this requirement will be fulfilled. A deductible is not the same as a co-payment or co-insurance. A deductible is in addition to your co-payment/co-insurance.

6. May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable under current industry standards (typically no longer than 6 months)
Your insurance plan may require a waiting period for a pre-existing condition, but the waiting period must be reasonable under current industry standards (typically no longer than 6 months). Each company has its own definition of pre-existing conditions, but basically pre-existing conditions are any physical or mental conditions for which medical advice, medication, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received prior to enrollment on your insurance plan. Some insurance plans exclude pre-existing conditions while some plans might put a waiting period on pre-existing conditions.

A waiting period means that your insurance company will not cover any pre-existing conditions for a certain amount of time. For example, if your plan has a 12 month waiting period for pre-existing conditions and you have previously received care for asthma, then you will not have coverage for any care or services related to asthma for 12 months.

What options do I have?

The University of Hawaiʻ offers a student health insurance plan. Students may choose to enroll in this health insurance plan. For more information on this plan, click here. Please note that there are deadlines each semester to enroll in this particular health insurance plan.

If you do not choose the University's health insurance plan, you may purchase health insurance in your home country or from a US-based health insurance company. If you choose to purchase health insurance from your home country or from a US-based health insurance company, you must have the health insurance company complete this form and submit the form to the Director of International Student Services.

Some US-based companies that offer health insurance for international students include:

Students from the Compact of Free Association Nations

Students from the Compact of Free Association nations are not required to have health insurance, although it is recommended. Students from a COFA nation may be eligible health insurance subsidized by the State of Hawaii at a low rate. Follow the steps below if you would like to apply for this low-cost health insurance:

1. Go to the Hilo Family Center Health Center (also referred to as the “Hilo Bay Clinic”), located at 1178 Kinoole Street. It is about a 20 minute walk from campus. Go anytime between 8 am-4 pm on Monday-Friday.
2. Appointments are not necessary, but you can make an appointment by calling or emailing Kris Sumaoang at 934-3211 or If you call or email Kris, tell her that you are a student from the FSM, RMI or Palau, and that you would like to apply for “Quest” health insurance.
3. Bring your passport. A US social security number is not required, but if you have one, bring your social security card. You will also need to bring your I-94 form; if you do not have your I-94 form, you need to know the date you entered the U.S.
4. When you arrive, tell them that you would like to apply for “Quest” health insurance.
A worker will meet with you and ask you some questions. Most likely, they will tell you that you are not eligible for Quest (which is the free health insurance), but they will provide information other other health insurance options, which are low-cost. They will then tell you what the next step is to try to get the low-cost health insurance, which will probably involve having to meet with another worker at another time.

Please be aware that this process is constantly changing, but this is the most up-to-date information that I have. In the past, you could apply for and obtain this low-cost health insurance over the phone, but now you must go to the Hilo Family Center Health Center.

For general questions about "Quest" health insurance, you can call 1-877-628-5076. Language interpreters are available in 16 languages, including Chuukese and Marshallese.

For detailed information and resources for those looking for information on the current status of health care coverage for people from the Compact of Free Association nations who live in Hawaii, visit the Healthy Pacific website.