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Center for Global Education
Center for Global Education

Health Insurance While Abroad

It is important for you to have adequate health insurance coverage while you are abroad. Failure to obtain coverage can result in anything from very high medical bills to refusal to be treated in a hospital or doctor's office. In many countries, foreigners must prove that they have medical insurance before they can be treated and are often required to pay cash up-front. No matter where you go or what treatment you may seek, save all medical bills and receipts.

Check to see if your current medical coverage is valid outside of the United States. Find out how you would file a claim from abroad and how the insurance company would handle the claim. Ask your insurance company if they provide benefits for medical evacuation and repatriation. Although it is not a pleasant subject to think about, you need to be aware of what would happen if you were to fall seriously ill while abroad and had to return to the U.S. for medical treatment. For example, some policies provide an air ambulance with accompanying nurse or physician for instances where the patient must return to the home country. Without insurance this service may cost up to $10,000. If your current policy does not provide such coverage, consider purchasing some form of supplemental insurance coverage. It is to your benefit to thoroughly research your options prior to committing to a specific insurance carrier.

Other questions to ask your insurance carrier include:

  • What type of coverage does the international health insurance plan provide?

  • Does it provide for medical evacuation and repatriation? If so, will it pay for evacuation to the home country or only to the nearest medical facility?

  • How much does the policy cost?

  • What are the eligibility requirements for this policy?

  • Are pre-existing conditions covered? If so, is there a waiting period?

  • If I become ill or am injured while overseas, how will the policy apply?

    • Do I pay for services rendered and receive reimbursements afterwards?

    • If I am unable to pay in advance for services rendered, will this policy provide assistance?

    • Does this policy require a deductible?

  • When does the coverage for this policy begin and when does it end?

  • Does this policy provide coverage specifically in (country abroad)?

  • Will this policy provide coverage for trips to the U.S. during my school breaks and/or holidays?

  • Will the policy provide coverage outside my host country during my study abroad program?

  • Whom do I ask if I have questions about the coverage while abroad?

  • In addition to accident and sickness coverage, what other services does your policy provide? (e.g., 24 hour operator assistance, information on English speaking doctors and/or translators, travel insurance, etc.)

If you're not currently covered by medical insurance, or your health insurance policy will not adequately cover you abroad, you are advised to enroll in a policy designed for U.S. students who will be studying abroad. You should look into whether or not health insurance from a local source in the country you're studying is available through your Exchange university or 3rd Party Provider program or contact one of the companies listed under the "Supplemental Insurance Providers" header below, all of which offer supplemental insurance for international study. If studying through a 3rd Party Provider, you may be required to purchase health insurance through their organization. 

Health Insurance Visa Requirements for the Schengen Visa

The Schengen area is comprised of the following 26 countries that have agreed to allow free movement of their citizens within this area as a single country: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein

If you are studying in a country in the Schengen area, you will need to show proof of adequate international health and travel insurance as part of your visa application process. This includes:

  • Medical coverage of at least 30,000 EUR
  • Must cover emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains

As part of this requirement, you will generally need to produce what they call a “Visa Letter,” written by your health insurance company on their company letterhead, that outlines what the plan coverage is, confirms the insured is covered, and provide other information about the plan that you have purchased. Here is a sample Schengen confirmation of coverage letter for you to refer to.

Supplemental Insurance Providers

The following supplemental insurance providers are options for your consideration. Butler University does not endorse any specific insurance plan. Those listed below are provided for your information and reference. Your decision to purchase coverage from any provider should be made after careful examination of policy coverage. Please contact the policy provider directly for any specific plan questions you may have.

Champion Insurance Advantage, Ltd.
Tel: 800-643-4675

HTH Worldwide Insurance Service
Tel: 800-242-4178

Health Insurance for U.S. Students Studying Abroad

International Scholastic Overseas Service (SOS)
Tel: 800-767-1403

Worldwide Assistance
Tel: (800) 821-2828

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The ISIC can be valuable when studying abroad. It is recognized worldwide and immediately proves that you are eligible to receive available discounts on travel, accommodations and admission to museums, theaters and other cultural activities in more than 90 countries. It offers savings of up to 50% over commercial fares on intra-European travel and many other benefits, including illness and accidental death insurance coverage. Additionally, a 24-hour help line is available to holders of the ISIC. The number to call in any emergency is +1 (713) 267-2525; you must mention the group number you were given by the agent who issued you the card. Take this number with you as it is *NOT* written on your ISIC card.

Supplemental travel insurance is also included with the purchase of your ISIC. You can choose between Basic Insurance, Premium Insurance, or Explorer Insurance. Descriptions of each type of insurance, as well as the ISIC application, can be found here.

Many study abroad programs will automatically provide you with this card and you should check with your program directly to see if this is the case. Processing time is 15 days, but can be expedited for a fee.