All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents are required by federal regulations to have medical insurance for the entire period of their stay in the U.S. Some visitors prefer to purchase coverage before departing their home country while others prefer to have a US based plan. You may select the medical insurance that is best for you and any family; however, here is the minimum coverage that must be met:

BenefitMinimum Level of
Coverage Required
Amount of coverage per
accident or illness
Medical Evacuation$50,000
Repatriation of Remains$25,000
Maximum Deductible$500

Any insurance policy that fulfills these requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard and Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A” or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above, or such other rating service that the Exchange Visitor Program may specify. Insurance coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the Exchange Visitor’s home country meets the requirements. Health benefits programs offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor or underwritten by a federally qualified health maintenance organization (HMO) or an eligible competitive medical plan as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration shall also qualify. The medical and hospitalization coverage provided by the University of Southern Maine’s International Student and Scholar Plan meets and exceeds
these requirements.

The Reason for the Insurance Requirement:

It is dangerous to be in the United States without adequate health insurance which is why the US Department of State requires that J-1/J-2 visa holder carry the above levels of coverage. Although in many countries the government bears the expense of health care for its citizens, and sometimes even for visitors, individuals and families the United States are responsible for these costs themselves. Since a single day of hospitalization and medical treatment can cost thousands of dollars, many hospitals and
doctors refuse to treat uninsured patients except in life threatening emergencies. Most Americans rely on insurance, and you should do the same. Insurance gives you access to better and more timely health care, and provides the only protection against the enormous cost of health care in this country.

How Insurance Works:

Once you purchase insurance, the company will provide you with an insurance identification card for use as proof of your coverage when you are seeking health care from a hospital or doctor. The company will also provide written instructions for reporting and documenting a medical expense (filing a claim). The company will evaluate any claim that you file, and make the appropriate payment based on the coverage provided by your policy. In some cases the company pays the hospital or doctor
directly; in others the company reimburses the policy holder after he or she has paid the bills.

If you willfully fail to maintain the insurance coverage as set forth or make a material misrepresentation to your J-1 sponsor regarding the coverage, you will be considered to be in violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations and will be subject to termination as an Exchange Visitor participant. It is your responsibility, not USM’s, to obtain and maintain insurance coverage. Please be prepared to show proof of coverage upon your arrival at USM or to purchase coverage shortly after your arrival.