J-1 Student Health Insurance Requirements

A J-1 student is defined as a degree-seeking student who is enrolled in a UC Berkeley Bachelor's, Masters, or Doctoral degree program or a student enrolled full time through the UCEAP Program and who has one of the following categories listed in Section 4 of the DS-2019: STUDENT-NON-DEGREE, STUDENT BACHELORS, STUDENT MASTERS OR STUDENT DOCTORATE.

The U.S. Department of State requires specific health insurance coverage for J-1 students and accompanying J-2 dependents for the entirety of their stay in the U.S.

Who is eligible for SHIP?

J-1/J-2 Enrolled UC Berkeley Students & Dependents

Registered UC Berkeley students are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) when they register. SHIP meets the Department of State requirements for J-1/J-2 health insurance. Coverage begins on August 1 for students who register in the Fall, or January 1 if Spring is the initial semester of registration. A waiver of the SHIP coverage may be possible. To find out more about the waiver process, visit the UHS website. For more information about health services and insurance at UC Berkeley, see University Health Services.

J-1/J-2 Students Arriving Before or Exiting US After SHIP Coverage Start Dates 

J-1/J-2  students must have compliant insurance coverage from the date of entry to the U.S until their final departure in J-1/J-2 status. J-1/J-2s who enter the US prior to their initial SHIP insurance plan start date or exit after the SHIP expiration must obtain appropriate coverage for the pre or post-SHIP periods. See current SHIP coverage dates.

J-1 Masters/PhD Students on Filing Fee

J-1 Masters or PhD students who go on Filing Fee status  should see the UHS website regarding purchasing voluntary SHIP for Non-Registered Students coverage. Students who choose not to continue with voluntary SHIP coverage during their Filing Fee period should see the UHS website for Health Insurance After Graduation regarding selecting a plan after your final semester of regular registration. Be sure that any plan you select meets the Department of State requirements for J-1/J-2 health insurance (see below).

Who is NOT eligible for SHIP?

Post-Completion Academic Training Insuance Coverage

Students who graduate or complete their exchange program of study and begin post-completion Academic Training must have continuing healthcare coverage during the Academic Training period. Students who have graduated qualify for a SHIP continuation plan if they were a registered student enrolled in SHIP for the Spring or Fall semester immediately preceding their graduation. See the UHS website for Health Insurance After Graduation regarding selecting a plan after your final semester of registration. Be sure that any plan you select meets the Department of State requirements for J-1/J-2 health insurance (see below).

Alternate Health Insurance Plans

BIO is aware of the following providers that have J-1/J-2 compliant health insurance options. BIO does not do not endorse any particular plans, and students should research and compare plans to determine that the coverage is both sufficient for their needs and meets the J-1/J-2 Dept of State requirements listed below. Make sure to check with the company to determine which plans are appropriate and meet Dept. of State requirements for J-1/J-2 students on post-completion training.

U.S. Dept. of State Required Health Insurance Coverage for J-1/J-2 Exchange Visitors

ItemMinimum Requirement
Medical Benefit $100,000
Repatriation of Remains $25,000
Medical Evacuation $50,000
Deductible per accident or illness not to exceed $500
  • Covers pre-existing conditions after a reasonable waiting period
  • Includes a provision for co-payment that does not exceed 25% co-pay by the Exchange Visitor
  • Does not exclude benefits for perils inherent to the activities of the Exchange Visitor's program
  • J-1s and any J-2 accompanying spouse and dependent(s) may also be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act [22 CFR 62.14(a)] . Be aware that the ACA requirements may exceed the U.S. Department of State requirements.
  • Any insurance plan must be:
    • Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims paying Ability rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ‘‘B+’’ or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ‘‘A3’’ or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify;
    • 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 or eligible Competitive Medical Plan as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.