Skip to main content

J-1 Health Insurance

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. The minimum requirements are listed on page two of the DS-2019; the minimum is intended to provide catastrophic health insurance coverage while on the J-1 program. Please follow the steps below to make sure you and all J-2 family members have adequate health insurance in the United States. Contact if you have any questions.

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; instead, identify a health care provider and urgent care center within your plan's network now!

*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.

Name Change:

Garnett-Powers has been purchased by Arthur J. Gallagher. All materials including their website will be changed from Garnett-Powers to Gallagher. Please note that this transition will not impact your health insurance or the customer service you are receiving. 

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 their 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 on how long you remain in the United States, you 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. Whether individuals are subject to this mandate is determined by your tax status (NOT IMMIGRATION STATUS; see "Tax Resources"). 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. Failure to comply in the past resulted in an IRS penalty ("Individual Shared Responsibility") but the current law has removed this penalty. 

All UC San Diego employee-provided insurance plans and the Gallagher (Garnett-Powers & Associates) plans for Postdoctoral Scholars are ACA-compliant. The Gallagher (Garnett-Powers & Associates) 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 Gallagher Health Insurance

Postdoctoral Scholar J-1 Exchange Visitors

Option 1: If you enroll in the UC Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plan:

-Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for the UC Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plan and may enroll online.
-The UC Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plan meets the medical evacuation and repatriation requirements and is ACA-compliant, so no further action, except enrollment, will be necessary.

Option 2: If you plan to enroll in your own health insurance plan:

If you do not enroll in the UC Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plan and have instead purchased a different qualifying insurance, please complete the Gallagher waiver process.

UC San Diego Employee J-1 Exchange Visitors (Paid by UC San Diego, excluding postdocs)

Option 1: If you enroll in the UCSD health insurance plan for employees:

  1. Check with your department administrator to see if you are benefits-eligible.
  2. If benefits-eligible, choose coverage through a UC San Diego health plan that meets the J-1 minimum requirements (see drawer above), except for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains (MER). 
  3. Purchase separate supplemental insurance to cover your medical evacuation and repatriation of remains (MER) requirements.
  4. Submit MER insurance coverage proof to as soon as possible but no later than 15 days after your arrival.
  5. For more information about MER options, please see the following in the FAQs below: What are some options for MER insurance?

Option 2: If you enroll in your own health insurance plan.

If you choose to enroll in a qualifying insurance plan other than a UC San Diego health insurance plan, please complete the Gallagher waiver process.

All Other UC San Diego J-1 Exchange Visitors


Option 1: UC San Diego Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan

  • The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, the Graduate Division, and the International Faculty & Scholars Office have partnered with Gallagher to design the UC San Diego Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan; all J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents are eligible to enroll online.
  • The UC San Diego Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan meets the medical evacuation and repatriation requirements, so no further action, except enrollment, will be necessary.

Option 2: Alternate Insurance Provider

If you choose to enroll in a qualifying plan other than the UC San Diego Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan:

  1. Request that your prospective insurance company verify that the policy meets the J-1 minimum requirements (see drawer above for details).
  2. Complete the Gallagher waiver process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have general health information for me to read?

Visit IFSO's Health Information webpage.

What does catastrophic health insurance coverage mean?

The U.S. Department of State indicates the required minimum health insurance coverage amounts on page two of the DS-2019 for anyone participating in a J-1 program. These minimum coverage amounts are intended to cover catastrophic health insurance needs, rather than provide comprehensive health insurance.

Catastrophic health insurance coverage typically has high deductibles/out of pocket expenses and is meant to cover emergencies (e.g. accident requiring hospitalization). Catastrophic health coverage may not include vaccine coverage, require pre-certification for doctors visits, and may not include preventative care coverage. 

The Postdoc and UC San Diego health insurance plans provide comprehensive health insurance coverage.

Please review your health insurance to determine if it provides catastrophic or comprehensive coverage. 

Who is my insurance provider?

Gallagher (Garnett Powers) is an insurance broker who matches you with a health insurance carrier and ensures that the coverages meet the minimum requirements noted on page two of the DS-2019. Your insurance carrier/provider (i.e. Health Net, IMG, etc.) will depend on your specific selection, please review your health insurance card/documents closely as your insurance carrier/provider will be noted on them.

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

Gallagher (Garnett-Powers & Associates) Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan - Endorsed by UC San Diego

Phone: (888) 441-3719

The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, the Graduate Division, and the International Faculty & Scholars Office have partnered with Gallagher (Garnett-Powers & Associates) to design the UC San Diego Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan.


Some Additional providers - Not Endorsed by UC San Diego:

Phone: (866) 552-8834

Compass Benefits Group
Phone: (800) 683-1468

International Student Insurance
Phone: (877) 758-4391

International Student Organization
Ph: (800) 244-1180

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

Patriot Insurance (offers coverage for ages over 64)
Phone: (317) 655-4500

Taian Financial (Service in Chinese)
Phone: (317) 318-8258

How do I complete the Waiver Process?

Submit the online Waiver Form through Gallagher (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 U.S. dollar amounts.

A waiver must be completed for anyone on a J-1 program who obtained their own plan. Gallagher (Garnett-Powers) will verify that the insurance meets the requirements noted on page two of the DS-2019.

You do not need to submit a waiver if you enrolled in a Gallagher (Garnett-Powers), Postdoc, or UC San Diego Health insurance plan* as these plans meet the requirements noted on page two of the DS-2019.  

*UC San Diego Health insurance plans require the purchasing of supplemental medical evacuation and repatriation of remains (MER) coverage.

I only need Medical Evacuation and Repatriation (MER) Insurance; how do I purchase it separately?

Supplemental Medical Evacuation and Repatriation (MER) coverage must meet the following requirements:

Item Minimum Requirement
Medical Evacuation $50,000 to their home country
Repatriation of Remains $25,000

You may purchase your own MER coverage or the UC System sponsored coverage. Please note that the UC System sponsored plan requires purchasing coverage in 1 year increments, does not prorate, and does not offer the option for online transactions. If you are interested in coverage for less than 1 year or the option to purchase the coverage online, you may wish to find an alternative insurance provider, see What are some other options for MER insurance? below.

The UC system sponsors the A-G Administrators Plan for MER coverage:
  1. Fill out the formA-G Administrators plan.
  2. Mail-in the paper form.
    1. Address it to: A-G Administrators LLC PO Box 824936 Lock Box # 824936 Philadelphia, PA 19182-4936
    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. An administrator from A-G Administrators will email you proof of enrollment the day after the mail is received by their office.

What are some other options for MER insurance?

Other Supplemental MER coverage options:

The International Faculty & Scholars Office is providing examples of alternative companies used by our scholars but is not endorsing the services of these companies.

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?

UC System is requiring the Flu Vaccine, how do I get the vaccine?

The University of California System issued a system wide statement requiring flu vaccines for all UC San Diego Students, Faculty and Staff.

For more information visit: 

How do I obtain Counseling, Dental, and Vision coverage?

Visit our Health page for information.

Workshop Presentations

Insurance 101

Gallagher (Garnett Powers) on the visiting scholar insurance plans for J-1 Scholars

Annual Virtual Presentation (see blue drawer below).

Representatives from Gallagher (Garnett-Powers and Associates) will be available via zoom to talk about the J-1 Visiting Scholar insurance plans for the new plan year starting September 1, 2022.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • How to use the health insurance plans to keep out-of-pocket costs less
  • How to best use the Basic plan given its minimal coverage
  • How to locate a provider in a specific zip code
  • Understanding U.S. health insurance jargon
  • How to read an "Explanation of Benefits"
  • Difference between Gallagher (Garnett-Powers), the insurance broker, and the actual insurance company


Gallagher (Garnett Powers) has also created an reference sheet with general health insurance terminology.

Recording: Gallagher on Visitor Scholar insurance plans for J1 Scholars 2023-24

Gallagher on Visitor Scholar Insurance Plans for J-1 Scholars, 8/22/23

Representatives from Gallagher (Garnett-Powers) will be available via zoom to talk about the J-1 Visiting Scholar insurance plans.

 ** Note: Subtitles/Closed Captions for all videos were automatically generated by Zoom. If you have questions regarding any of the information on the video contact **