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J-1 Health Insurance

Please Note:

*Medical care in the United States is extremely expensive and can be complicated to navigate. Please do not wait until you are sick to understand how your insurance plan works and identify a health care provider and urgent care center within your plan's network!

*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 and the program sponsor will be obligated to terminate the Exchange Visitor's program.

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. Please follow the steps below to make sure you and all J-2 family members have adequate health insurance in the United States. 

Step 1: Know the Requirements

U.S. Department of State Requirements

The following table summarizes the requirements that are listed on page 2 of your DS-2019 at 1(f):

Item Minimum Requirement
Medical Benefit $100,000 per person, per year or accident
*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
Medical Evacuation $50,000 to his/her home country
Repatriation of Remains $25,000
Deductible Cannot exceed $500 per accident or illness
Preexisting Conditions Cannot exclude altogether coverage for preexisting conditions although it may require a waiting period for them

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


Federal Requirements: Affordable Care Act (ACA)

This only applies to J-1 scholars who may be considered a resident alien for tax purposes (unrelated to immigrant status).

See "Determining Alien Tax Status" and follow instructions for the "Substantial Presence Test."

Depending how long you remain in the United States, you may become subject to the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires you to either:

  1. be enrolled in an ACA-compliant insurance, or
  2. pay a tax penalty to the U.S. Internal Revenue Services (IRS) per the “Individual Shared Responsibility” provision.

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) are not ACA-compliant. 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.

Step 2: Enroll In or Waive Out of Health Insurance


Option 1: If you enroll in the UC San Diego postdoc plan.

-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, so no further action, except enrollment, will be necessary.

Option 2: If would like to enroll in your own health insurance plan.

If you do not plan on enrolling in the UCSD health insurance for postdocs and have/are enrolled in a different qualifying insurance, please submit the Waiver Form.

UCSD Employees (Paid by UCSD)

If you do not plan on enrolling in the UC San Deigo health insurance for employees and have/are enrolled in a different qualifying insurance, please submit the Waiver Form.

1. Most scholars who are employees of 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 (MER). Please check with your department administrator regarding any benefits offered to you and your family through your UC San Diego employment.


2. If you are enrolling with the UC San Diego health plan, you must purchase a separate supplemental insurance to cover your medical evacuation and repatriation of remains (MER) requirements. Please submit MER insurance coverage proof to 30 days of your arrival. Please see "How do I submit MER proof?" in the FAQs for more information.

3. For more information about MER options, please see the following in the FAQs:

Visiting Scholars (VS) & Visiting Graduate Students (VGS) & Unpaid Researchers

1. 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.

 2. Enroll in a plan of your choice.

  • Visiting Academic Benefit Plan with Garnett-Powers (GP) - Endorsed by UC San Diego
    • The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, the Graduate Division, and the International Faculty & Scholars 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.

3. If you chose to enroll in a non-Garnett-Powers policy, you must complete the Waiver Form on the Garnett-Powers website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some health insurance providers for non-employees of UCSD?

Garnett-Powers & Associates' Visiting Academic Benefit Plan - Endorsed by UC San Diego

Ph: (888) 441-3719

The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, the Graduate Division, and the International Faculty & Scholars 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)

How do I submit the Waiver Form?

Submit the Waiver Form through GP (Garnett-Powers):

Make sure to prepare documents proving your proof of insurance coverage meeting the J-1 requirements stated above. Documents must be translated into English and converted to US dollar amounts.

How do I fill out the A-G Administrators Form?

The University of California sponsors the A-G Administrators Plan.

  1. Fill out the formA-G Administrators plan.
  2. Mail-in the paper form.
    1. Address it to: A-G Administrators, Inc. P.O. Box 979 Valley Forge, PA. 19482
    2. Include a check or money order made payable to A-G Administrators, Inc. for $100 per individual.
    3. You may list "IFSO at UCSD" as your International Scholar Advisor. (Last question on the form.)
  3. Email your proof of enrollment emailed to you by A-G Administrators.
    1. Nanci Peters from A-G Administrators will email you proof of enrollment the day after the mail is received by their office.
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.

What are some options for MER insurance?

The University of California sponsors the A-G Administrators Plan.

Here are a few other providers some of our scholars have utilized:

Please note that these other providers are not sponsored by the University of California.

How do I submit MER proof?

Email the following:

  • Proof of enrollment and payment with your name (and J-2 family members' if applicable)
  • Policy details in English with MER specifics in U.S. dollar amounts and appropriate policy rating
    • See "Step 1: Know the requirements for more information."

What do these health insurance terms or words mean?

Workshop Presentations