J-1/J-2 Health Insurance Requirements

All J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents are legally required to carry health insurance while they're in the US. If you do not purchase insurance that meets the requirements below, your J-1 program will be terminated.

If you're a J-1 student, you will be automatically enrolled in the Emory Student Health Insurance Plan unless you decide to go through the waiver process in OPUS.

If you're a J-1 scholar, you need to report your insurance coverage to ISSS before your J-1 program start date on your DS-2019. You have the following insurance options:

  1. One of Emory's plans for employees (Aetna POS plan or starting January 2021, Kaiser Permanente plan)
  2. ISO
  3. ISP
  4. Insurance from an outside sponsor, such as Fulbright  

Since insurance coverage needs vary per person, ISSS cannot advise you on which insurance company is best for you and your family (if applicable). However, when selecting an insurance company, you will need too consider a number of factors. Some questions to ask may include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Does the plan meet the US Department of State's J-1 health insurance requirements?
  • Do you have a pre-existing condition? If so, does the plan cover it at the time of enrollment or is there a waiting period (typically 6 months but could be longer)?
  • How long will you be in the US? If you will be in the US for an extended period of time, will you require routine medical care which is typically not covered by "accidental and occasional" plans? 
  • Do you have J-2 dependents who will also require health insurance?
  • Do you anticipate having a baby or requiring surgery while in the US?  


Minimum health coverage requirements

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness;

  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; and

  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000.

In addition, the policy must be:
  • Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. best rating of A- or above, an Insurance Solvency International rating of A-i or above, a Standard & Poor's claims-paying ability rating of A- or above, a Weiss Research rating of B+ or above; or

  • Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country; or

  • Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or

  • Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Important notes:

  • Traveler's insurance does not meet the minimum coverage requirements for J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents.
  • We recommend that you purchase health insurance from a US company. However, if you choose to go with a foreign entity, they must have an insurance claims office located in the US.

Finally, the insurance policy must also comply with the Affordable Care Act if applicable.

Emory's Aetna POS or Kaiser Permanente plan for employees

If you are an Emory employee, you can sign up for subsidized health insurance as part of your benefits package. Learn more about your medical benefits >>

Benefits eligible J-1 scholars have the option to select either the Aetna POS plan or starting January 2021, the Kaiser Permanente plan.

If you select the Kaiser Permanente plan and are currently seeing Emory Clinic providers (or any other providers), you will need to switch to Kaiser Permanente providers. To learn more about how this plan works, review the Kaiser Permanente Plan page and read these FAQs.

If you're not sure if you are eligible for employee benefits, ask your department administrator.

ISO and ISP for international scholars

ISO and ISP offer a variety of plans designed specifically for J-1 scholars and their J-2 dependents.  You can enroll in an ISO or ISP plan online prior to arriving in the U.S. and before completing ISSS check-in and orientation. Your coverage must be from the start date to the end date listed on your DS-2019, but please be aware that both ISP and ISO have a maximum enrollment period of 12 months.  If your J-1 program duration is more than 1 year, you will be required to re-enroll before the current enrollment period ends.  When choosing an insurance company and plan for you and your family (if applicable), please consider the factors listed at the top of this page.  For questions regarding enrollment and insurance plans, please contact the company directly. Phone numbers and email addresses can be found on their websites.

ISO: Visit the ISO website>>
ISP: Visit the ISP website>>

Note: Exchange visitors over the age of 64 may not be eligible for the plans mentioned above. As a result, scholars who do not meet the eligibility requirements for one of these plans should enroll in an alternative. Plans for scholars over the age of 64 can carry higher costs. The insurance companies listed below offer plans that meet the Department of State’s requirements and accept applicants over the age of 64. Be aware that scholars are solely responsible to review and determine which insurance plan is right for them. 

Insurance from an outside sponsor

If you're sponsored by an organization other than Emory—such as Fulbright—they might provide health insurance to you. 

If your outside sponsor doesn't provide insurance that meets the requirements above, you'll need to sign up for a different plan such as those offered by ISO or ISP.

Reporting your insurance coverage

If you're a J-1 scholar, you'll enter your health insurance coverage information as you complete the Scholar Orientation e-form in ISSS Link. You should do this within five days of your arrival in the US.

If your plan changes later while you're in the US, or you extend your program, log in to ISSS Link and complete the Continuing J-1 Scholar Health Insurance Confirmation e-form immediately.

NOTE: J-1 students do not need to report insurance coverage because they are automatically enrolled in Emory's student health insurance plan if they are registered for classes at Emory.