There is no universal or national health insurance plan in the United States; rather, medical and dental care is generally a personal responsibility and can be quite expensive. These high costs can be extreme and even force an individual to forego necessary care. At the University of Pittsburgh we never want an international student, scholar or family member to have to face that kind of a difficult decision. Therefore, the University offers several options for health insurance, and in addition, requires insurance coverage for all full-time international students. Please see below and visit the links to the right for more details.

International Faculty and Staff employed by the University of Pittsburgh

The Benefits Department, within the Office of Human Resources, manages the comprehensive package of benefits that is available to faculty, staff, and others with eligible academic appointments, as well as their eligible dependents. The Department provides overall assistance on benefits-related questions and serves as the liaison between the faculty or staff member and the various insurance carriers and the retirement savings investment companies.

An overview of benefits, options, and enrollment criteria is provided to each new hire at the initial orientation session.

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International Students

All full-time enrolled students pay a mandatory Student Health Fee as part of their tuition and fees. This fee was designed to provide students with access to the routine medical services available at the Student Health Service and the Counseling Center at little or no additional cost.
However, in some cases specialized services or care are necessary that go beyond the medical services provided through the Student Health Fee. When this occurs, the student bears the full responsibility for payment, which can easily be very expensive. At this point, medical insurance becomes critically important.

Therefore, all full-time international students at the University of Pittsburgh are required to purchase and maintain a U.S.-based health insurance plan while they are enrolled at the University. In addition, students in J-1 status are required by federal regulation to have health insurance for themselves and any accompanying J-2 dependents at all times while in the United States. At the beginning of each fall semster, students must attest that they have adequate health insurance. The attestation is found by following the links for student health insurance enrollment in

Graduate students with an academic appointment

Graduate students with an academic appointment (Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow, Graduate Student Assistant, and Graduate Student Researcher, etc.) are eligible to participate in the graduate student health insurance plan. Under this plan, the University of Pittsburgh provides individual coverage at no cost to the student; The graduate student health insurance plan is an excellent benefit and international graduate students are strongly recommended to enroll themselves as well as their dependent family members.

Students without an academic appointment

Students without an academic appointment must purchase health insurance for themselves. Students have the option of purchasing one of the UPMC student health plans or there are a number of companies that provide plans for international students and scholars. See below for additional information and resources.

While the University of Pittsburgh does not specifically endorse any other health plans, the following resources may offer acceptable coverage:

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Non-student Exchange Visitors on J-1 and J-2 visa status

Non-student Exchange Visitor categories may include postdoctoral fellows, visiting professors, medical observers, and other related academic appointments.

J-1 (primary) and J-2 (dependents) visa holders are required by their visa status to maintain medical health insurance coverage at all times during their exchange visit. The minimum basic coverage is:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

In some cases, your financial sponsor may arrange for medical insurance coverage, ensuring it meets with the regulatory guidance above. In all other cases, the J-1 primary visa holder is responsible to arrange for suitable medical insurance coverage for him-/herself and any J-2 dependents.

While the University of Pittsburgh does not specifically endorse any other health plans, the following resources may also offer acceptable coverage:

Failure to maintain adequate medical health insurance coverage will lead to termination of J visa status and departure from the United States.

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University Immunization Policy
Certain immunizations are required for all international students at the University of Pittsburgh. To view the University’s immunization policy, click here.

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Dental Insurance

Click here to access the dental insurance guide. Inside this guide you will find:

  • Explanations of the different types of dental insurance
  • Explanation of common insurance terms and jargon
  • How to purchase and decide which dental plan is right for you
  • Verified customer reviews on dental insurance providers
  • Free resource, available at any time

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