In 2010, 4.1 million students were studying abroad for the first time. Five percent of those were studying in Canada, and more than 27,000 Canadians were studying in the United States. By now, that figure is likely closer to 5 million, and each and every one of these students needs private health insurance.
The issue of health insurance is becoming acute, especially for international students heading to the United States, which accounts for 18 percent of all international students and which is the world’s number 1 pick for undergraduate, graduate, research and occupational studies.
But according to the health reform introduced as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), all student health plans in the U.S. will have to expand their benefits to match the benefits available to the general population—no limits on care, coverage of pre-existing conditions, all preventive care—items which were not included in student health insurance plans previously. Because of those expansions, the price of student health plans in the U.S. are skyrocketing, many exceeding $2,500 per school year, and many colleges are dropping their school plans entirely because they can’t justify adding the additional costs to already increasing tuitions.
This will mean many students will have to find private health insurance, and that is something that should be thoroughly explored as part of the school selection and visa application process. In fact, the F1 and J1 visas to the U.S. require students to have health insurance acceptable to the school to which the students are applying.
In Canada there are several providers of student health insurance, both for those heading for Europe, or in some cases Asia, as well as for the U.S. There are also good plans for international students from abroad going to Canada. And though some provinces in Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) allow full time foreign students to enroll in their provincial government health plans for free, the coverage is still basic and should be supplemented by limited, private insurance plans, which are available. In other provinces private health insurance is usually mandatory.
Some of the insurance providers advertising on this site offer student plans. We suggest