Health Information

Medical care in the United States is extremely expensive. It is absolutely necessary that you and all family members have adequate health insurance. It is your responsibility to understand the way your insurance policy works, and how to access health care providers who will accept your insurance plan. It is easiest to understand this while you are healthy; do not wait until you are sick!

Visitors in J-1 and J-2 statuses are required to maintain health insurance coverage that meets U.S. Department of State requirements for their program duration as a condition of their participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. [See 1(f) on back of the DS-2019]. Even for those in other statuses, we recommend signing up your dependents for insurance.

Any J-1 exchange visitor who willfully refuses to comply with this requirement shall be considered to be in violation of his/her exchange visitor status. The program sponsor is obligated to inform the United States Department of State of the exchange visitor's noncompliance.

J-1 Visa Requirements

J-1 Exchange Visitors are required by U.S. Department of State to have health insurance for themselves and any accompanying dependents in J-2 status for the entire duration in the U.S. starting with the date of arrival and ending with the date of departure.

UC San Diego also has minimum requirements (these meet federal minimum requirements) for outside insurance plans, which are:

  1. Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per person per year or accident
    1. may include provision for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25 percent of the covered benefits per accident or illness
  2. Medical evacuation of the Exchange Visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  3. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  4. Deductible cannot exceed $500 per accident or illness
  5. May require a waiting period for preexisting conditions (12 months, but cannot exclude altogether coverage for preexisting conditions)

Additionally, the insurance corporation underwriting the policy must have one of the following ratings:

  • A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above
  • Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above
  • Standard & Poor’s Claims paying Ability rating of “A-” or above
  • Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above
  • Coverage backed by the full faith and credit of the government of my home country
  • McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-“ or above
  • Moody’s Investor Services rating of “A3” or above

If you meet requirements #1 and #4 from the above list, but need a supplemental policy for items #2 and #3, see list of potential providers below or the A-G Administrators plan.

Dependents are also required to have this minimum coverage.

UC San Diego employees may be eligible for the university’s health insurance plans. Contact your academic department for see if you qualify.

Non-UC San Diego employees must purchase coverage that meets the requirements.

Postdoctoral Scholars and Employees

Postdoctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for UC San Diego health insurance.

Please see your academic department administration for more information, as well as the cost you will have to bear, which may differ from department to department. The Garnett Powers Postdoctoral Scholar Benefits Plan meets the medical evacuation and repatriation requirements and is ACA-compliant.

Paid Scholars

Please check with your department administrator regarding any benefits offered to you and your family through your UC San Diego employment. If you have an insurance plan that meets all of the UC San Diego and U.S. Department of State requirements but does not include medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, you must purchase supplemental insurance to make sure you also have this requirement covered.

Most scholars paid by UC San Diego can choose coverage through a UC San Diego health plan, which meets the J-1 minimum requirements, except for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains*.  NOTE THAT THE "CORE" PLAN IS NOT COMPLIANT WITH FEDERAL REGULATIONS!  Log in online to enroll in health benefits through UC San Diego at:

*Repatriation and Medical Evacuation Coverage
If you need to purchase a separate medical evacuation and repatriation insurance plan, the University of California sponsors the A-G Administrators plan. Note: the A-G Administrators plan requires purchasing 1 year of insurance and does not prorate. If you are interested in less than 1 year, you may wish to find an alternative insurance provider.

Unpaid Researchers

Scholars who are not eligible for the University benefits program must find an appropriate health insurance plan. This insurance could be a foreign-based plan or a plan based in the United States. Unpaid researchers will need to obtain full insurance for themselves and their dependents. It is your responsibility to purchase the appropriate plan. Please anticipate the costliness of these policies.

Visiting Academic Benefit Plan - Endorsed by UC San Diego

The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, the Graduate Division, and the International Faculty & Scholar Office have partnered with Garnett-Powers (GP) to design a medical plan for visiting scholars and visiting graduate students and other J-1 Exchange Visitors.

For additional information and enrollment, visit

Alternate Insurance Provider

Before purchasing an alternative insurance policy, request that your prospective insurance company verify that the policy meets the J-1 minimum requirements above. 

To waive out of the UCSD Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan please view and follow the instructions on the Waiver Form on the Garnett-Powers website.

*Repatriation and Medical Evacuation Coverage
If you need to purchase a separate medical evacuation and repatriation insurance plan, the University of California sponsors the A-G Administrators plan. Note: the A-G Administrators plan requires purchasing 1 year of insurance and does not prorate. If you are interested in less than 1 year, you may wish to find an alternative insurance provider.

Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") Information

All international scholars and their dependents should be aware that depending how long they remain in the United States, they may become subject to the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions require that individuals be enrolled in ACA-compliant insurance plans or pay a tax penalty--the "Individual Shared Responsibility" provision--to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Whether individuals are subject to this mandate is determined by your tax status (NOT IMMIGRATION STATUS).  If you are a non-resident alien for tax purposes, then you are not subject to this individual mandate.  If you are a resident alien for tax purposes, however, then you must be enrolled in an ACA-compliant insurance to avoid an IRS penalty.  For those scholars who receive compensation from UC San Diego, your Glacier tax online enrollment process identifies your tax residency status--you should view the "Residency Status Start Date" indicated on the "Tax Summary Report" provided by the system upon completion.  If you are paid in some way by UC San Diego and have not completed the online Glacier questionnaire, see your departmental administrator as soon as possible to complete this.

As a very general rule, scholars in J-1 status who are in the U.S. for no more than portions of two calendar years (for example, December 1, 2015 through November 30, 2016) are considered non-resident aliens for tax purposes.  J-1 scholars who are here for more than portions of 2 calendar years and 183 days of the current year will be considered resident aliens beginning the third calendar year (for example, December 1, 2014 through November 30, 2016--the J-1 will become a resident alien for tax purposes on Jan 1, 2016).  See "Determining Alien Tax Status" and follow instructions for the "Substantial Presence Test." 

All UC San Diego employee-provided insurance plans and the Garnett-Powers plans for Postdoctoral Scholars are ACA-compliant.  The Garnett-Powers plans for visiting academics (not postdoctoral scholars) include one plan that is ACA compliant and two that are not.  If you are a Resident Alien for Tax purposes and have questions about your non-UCSD plan, you should contact the insurance plan administrators directly and confirm that your insurance plan is ACA-compliant.

If you are seeking to enroll in other insurance plans, note that nonimmigrants are allowed to enroll in marketplace insurance exchanges established by the ACA enactment (see list) and also the main marketplace website.  Additional information can be found in the presentation given to J-1 Exchange Visitors at UC San Diego  in 2015 by the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

All J-1 scholars will still be required to maintain insurance that meets the federal regulatory requirement for this nonimmigrant classification and the requirements imposed by the University of California, San Diego, regardless of your tax residency status.

Health Insurance Providers

Visiting Academic Benefit Plan - Endorsed by UC San Diego

The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, the Graduate Division, and the International Faculty & Scholar Office have partnered with Garnett-Powers (GP) to design a medical plan for visiting scholars and visiting graduate students and other J-1 Exchange Visitors.

For additional information and enrollment, visit

Additional providers not endorsed by UC San Diego:

Ph: 866-552-8834

CMI Insurance Specialists
Ph: (800) 677-7887

Compass Benefits Group
Ph: (800) 683-1468

International Medical Group, Inc
Ph: (800) 628-4664

International Student Organization
Ph: (800) 244-1180

Taian Financial
Ph: +1(317)318-8258
(Service in Chinese)

Clinics and Referrals near UC San Diego

UC San Diego Clinics
The local clinics listed below will accept most U.S. insurance policies, but not all foreign policies. If you are covered by insurance from your home country, it may be necessary for you to pay the clinic directly and then be reimbursed by your insurance company.

La Jolla Family and Sports Medicine
9333 Genesee Avenue Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 657-8600

Internal Medicine Group- La Jolla
8939 Villa La Jolla Drive Suite 111
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 657-8000

Physician Referral Services
Listed below are physician referral services. Specify the type of physician needed and the most convenient area and they will refer someone (no fee for the referral). Hospital emergency room treatment is expensive and should ONLY be used in emergency situations.  Urgent care centers usually have more extensive hours than a general physician's office, and will be considerably less expensive than a hospital emergency room.  Note that referral services will not know your insurance plan; it is your responsibility to understand the coverage limits and procedures for accessing health care under your health insurance policy.

UC San Diego Healthcare Access
Excellent resource for referrals and information regarding
UC San Diego Medical Center physicians and services.
(800) 926-8273

San Diego County Medical Society
A physician-funded referral service.
(858) 565-8888

Health Insurance Terms

Basic medical coverage
The first level of insurance designed to cover expenses that exceed a small deductible (payable by the insured person). The basic medical benefit usually covers physicians’ fees, laboratory tests, prescription medicine, and hospital expenses. The basic medical benefit should be supplemented by a major medical benefit.

Coinsurance payment
The sharing of certain costs between the insurance company and the insured person, usually at the rate of 80 to 20 percent, respectively.

Coverage, or covered expenses
The medical expenses that will be paid by the insurance company.

The initial medical expenses per diagnosis, per incident, or within a specific time period, paid by the insured person and not reimbursable by the insurance company.

Effective date
The date on which the insurance policy takes effect, usually the date the enrollment form and premium reach the administrator’s office. In some cases, group policies may be pre-dated to the first day of appointment.

Defines who may participate in the insurance program.

Emergency Room Services
Health care provided at a hospital emergency room; this is the most costly way to receive health care and should only be used in actual emergency situations.  Some insurance policies may not cover emergency room treatment if the situation is not an emergency, and emergency room services are extremely expensive.  Non-emergency situations should be handled through appointments with physicians or, if the situation is one that cannot wait, but is not life-threatening, at an Urgent Care Facility (see below).

Expenses not reimbursable by the insurance company.

Major medical coverage
The second level of insurance designed to cover those expenses that exceed the limits of the basic medical benefit. The major medical benefit usually pays 80-100% of the medical expenses up to a maximum amount.

Maternity coverage
Maternity coverage will often not cover any pregnancy that existed prior to becoming insured.

Medical evacuation
Coverage for transportation of the insured person back to the home country as recommended by the attending physician for medical reasons.

The individual covered by the policy.

Pre-existing conditions
Conditions existing prior to the effective date of the policy.

The non-refundable cost of the insurance.

Repatriation of Remains
In case of death, the cost of preparing and transporting the remains of the person to the home country. While this is rarely used it is important in maintaining your non-immigrant status.

The insurance company.

Urgent Care Facility
Facilities that provide health care without requiring an appointment.  Such facilities are typically open during weekends and evenings in addition to daytime, and are ideal for treating situations that are not life-threatening, but do need to be addressed without waiting to make an appointment with a physician.  Services are much more cost-effective than those provided in an emergency room visit (see above), and will ultimately cost you less than care provided at an emergency room.

Counseling and Support

The UC San Diego Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) is a confidential service designed to help all campus employees, campus affiliates, and members of their immediate family resolve concerns that may be affecting personal well-being and/or job performance.

Services include:

  • One-on-one information, support, and counseling
  • Departmental behavioral consultation assistance
  • Coordinating counseling services and activities, as well as directing faculty and staff to outside resources
  • Educational workshops and support groups on a variety of topics

See their website to schedule an appointment or find additional resources. 

Contact Information

Phone (858) 534-5523

Address Torrey Pines Center South Suite 406, 10280 N. Torrey Pines Road

Note: The confidentiality of email cannot be guaranteed. The most confidential way to make an appointment is by phone.

UC San Diego smoke-free campus

no smoking

UC San Diego has a smoke-free policy (PPM 270-7) that extends a non-smoking zone from 25 feet away from a doorway, entryway, operable window or ventilation intake duct of any facility. Also, San Diego Health Sciences has prohibited smoking in all its buildings and outdoor areas. 

All UC campuses will be tobacco-free by 2014; UC San Diego will be SMOKE-FREE AS OF SEPTEMBER 1st, 2013. The new policy prohibits the smoking and chewing of tobacco, as well as the sale of tobacco products, and aligns with practices already in place at UC medical centers and other universities. See the UC San Diego Fact Sheet and visit (coming soon!) for more information.

Contact Us

International Faculty & Scholar Office (IFSO)
(858) 246-1448

Monday through Friday
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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