J-1 Visa for Scholars – Health Insurance

J-1 scholars are required to maintain health insurance for themselves and any J-2 dependents throughout their J-1 exchange visitor program in the U.S.  Failure to maintain such health insurance while in the United States will be considered a violation of J-1 status and may lead to termination of the J-1’s legal status. The requirements for health insurance that are outlined below summarize the requirements defined by U.S. federal regulations.  These are the minimum requirements for each J-1 scholar and J-2 dependent.  Based on current medical costs, a minimum coverage of $300,000 per illness/injury is strongly recommended.

  • Medical benefits per accident or illness of at least: $100,000 minimum
  • Repatriation of Remains: $25,000
  • Expenses related to Medical Evacuation: $50,000
  • Deductible per accident or illness not to exceed $500
  • The insurance must cover “pre-existing conditions” after a reasonable waiting period

Scholars with postdoctoral titles will receive benefits through Postdoctoral Scholar Benefits.  Scholars employed by UC Davis may receive benefits through UC Davis.  In these two cases, scholars should check with their department before purchasing insurance.  Scholars who are not postdocs and not paid from a US source will most likely need to purchase insurance on their own for themselves and their family. We strongly recommend that all J visitors purchase a short-term traveler’s insurance to cover at least the first month in the U.S. for themselves and any family members. Even if health insurance is offered to you by the University as part of your UC Davis benefits, the coverage may not begin immediately, so travel insurance is always a good idea.  In general, many airlines and credit card companies offer travel insurance.

Different Situations for Scholar Health Insurance

  • Paid by UC Davis or Postdoctoral Title at UC Davis: Ask your department whether you, and any family members, will receive health insurance benefits before purchasing health insurance.
  • No Health Insurance through UC Davis: You may purchase health insurance in your home country but it must meet –or surpass – the requirements above and provide you with a health insurance identification (ID) card that you can carry with you.  A health insurance ID card should include information about your full name, the limits of your health insurance coverage, the dates of coverage and a contact number for the health insurance company that can be used by any hospital or doctor’s office in the U.S.
  • You may also purchase a health insurance plan from a company that serves international students and scholars after you arrive in the U.S.  Examples of these companies are listed below, although there are many now to choose from.  It is important to do some research to find the health insurance plan that meets your needs, your family’s needs (if applicable) and your budget.  You will need to select a plan that meets your needs and budget as soon as you arrive in the U.S.
  • If you have an insurance plan that meets most of the requirements listed but does not include medical evacuation and/or repatriation of remains, you must purchase supplemental insurance to make sure you also have this requirement covered.
  • One option for supplemental insurance for medical evacuation and/or repatriation of remains is Betins (866-552-8834)

Coverage Terms

  • When purchasing insurance, be sure you understand what the insurance “covers” (“coverage” is the list of items for which the insurance company will pay the cost).  Most “premiums” (the “premium” is the monthly, semi-annual or annual cost of the insurance) are not refundable.  Examples of items you should consider when purchasing health insurance include:
  • Pre-existing conditions (conditions that you or your family have already been treated for in the past by a medical doctor, such as asthma, cancer, pregnancy, etc., may not be covered)
  • Pregnancy (most insurance companies will not cover a pregnancy that occurred prior to arrival in the US; many insurance companies do not cover a pregnancy that occurs while a person is in the US.  If you or a spouse may get pregnant while in the US, it is important to make sure your insurance covers pregnancy.)
  • Cost of prescriptions (some drugs that are used to treat illness require a prescription or “doctor’s order” in the U.S. and some insurance companies do not cover the cost of some drugs)
  • “Wellness Visits” (some insurance covers the cost of  routine doctor’s appointments and some insurance does not cover this cost)
  • Vaccines (some insurance does not cover some or all vaccines)
  • Vision and Dental Care: Most health insurance in the U.S. does not cover vision or dental care and it is not a requirement for the J-1 visa status. Scholars may choose to purchase additional plans in the U.S. to cover their vision and dental needs, or may choose to take care of these needs when visiting their home country.

Health Insurance Companies

There are many insurance plans that meet the requirements for J-1 scholars and J-2 dependents. If you do not already have health insurance you might want to consider either the Standard or the Platinum plan from Barney & Barney.  These plans are not required by UC Davis, however, Barney & Barney is an insurance broker who has worked with UC Davis for a number of years.  Information about their Standard and Platinum plans can be found at http://barneyandbarney.com/international-scholars.html.

We have worked with Barney & Barney to ensure that our scholars are provided assistance for questions or problems in enrolling or understanding the terms of the health plan.  If you have questions, please contact Cora Silva at Cora.Silva@barneyandbarney.com or 925-482-9311.

If you are a UC Davis employee, paid by UC Davis, you should check with your department to see if you are eligible for health insurance benefits before enrolling in any other health plan.

Hospitals and Clinics Near UC Davis

Below is a list of hospitals near UC Davis.  The hospital you use is not determined by where you live; it is determined by your health insurance coverage.  If you do not have a medical emergency, please check with your health insurance company before using any hospital or doctor services, to make sure your health insurance coverage will be valid at the place you visit.

For medical assistance needed that is immediate but not an emergency (such as a bad cold or stomach ache), visit the “Urgent Care” clinic at the hospital.

For emergencies (serious accidents, heart trouble, etc.), call 9-1-1 to have an ambulance sent to your location to take you to an “Emergency Room.”


Sutter Davis Hospital

2000 Sutter Place Davis, CA

(530) 756-6440


Davis Community Clinic

2051 John Jones Road

Davis, CA 95616

(530) 758-2060 – Medical

(530) 757-4667 – Dental



Woodland Memorial Hospital

1325 Cottonwood St Woodland, CA

(530) 662-3961



UC Davis Medical Center

2315 Stockton Blvd.

Sacramento, CA (916) 734-2011