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Health Insurance

F Visa Health Insurance

Stanford University requires that all registered students carry adequate health insurance. This requirement can be met either through Cardinal Care, the university sponsored health insurance plan, or through an alternative insurance plan that has comparable benefits.

J Visa Health Insurance

Department of State (DOS) regulations require all J-1 visa holders and their J-2 dependents be covered by medical insurance at all times for the entire duration of their J program. The Bechtel International Center is obligated, by federal law, to cancel the J-1 visa of any J-1 visitor who neglects to obtain and maintain medical insurance for themselves or their J-2 dependents.

Insurance Requirements

  • 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.
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • If a particular activity is a part of your Exchange Visitor program, your insurance must cover injuries resulting from your participation in that activity.
  • The policy may establish a waiting period before it covers pre-existing conditions (health problems you had before you bought the insurance), as long as the waiting period is reasonable by current standards in the insurance industry.
  • The policy must be backed by the full faith and credit of your home country government or the company providing the insurance must meet minimum rating requirements established by DOS (an A. M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-i" or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above).

*Coverage for Repatriation and Medical Evacuation is required for J-1 Exchange Visitors. Betins International Health and Travel Insurance provides such coverage. Please contact them for further information and to obtain the necessary forms. Medex is another company that provides such coverage.

Please note that these companies are only suggestions for your reference and we are in no way endorsing them or their services.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and International Students and Scholars

Who is subject to ACA?

  • The answer depends on whether an individual is considered a non-resident or resident for tax purposes. Non-residents for tax purposes are not subject to ACA, whereas residents for tax purposes are subject to ACA.

How do I determine whether or not I am a resident or non-resident for tax purpose?

  • An individual’s tax residency status is determined by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Different rules apply to students and scholars:
  • Information on determining tax residency status can be found on the IRS site.
  • However, both those in the student and scholar categories may elect to continue to be considered non-residents for tax purposes after these time periods if they can demonstrate the “closer connection exception."

Where can I find additional information about ACA ?

  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

J-1 Students

Stanford's Cardinal Care Plan meets the Department of State insurance requirements. J-1 students and their dependents are eligible.

J-1 Scholars


Stanford requires all postdocs regardless of visa status to be covered by a comprehensive medical plan that is ACA compliant. Stanford Postdoc medical insurance meets this ACA requirement, as well as the J visa requirement for those under J sponsorship. All Postdocs under Stanford visa sponsorship are eligible to participate in the Stanford Postdoc Benefit plans.

Postdocs can learn about the options for coverage for themselves and their dependents from the  Office of Postdoctoral Affairs 'Benefits'

Visiting Student Researchers

Registered Visiting Student Researchers are required to purchase Stanford's Cardinal Care Health plan unless they apply for and are granted a waiver of this requirement by Vaden Health Center. All inquiries concerning the waiving of this requirement should be directed to Vaden Health Center.

Please note that in addition to purchasing health insurance, Visiting Student Researchers are also required to pay the Campus Health Service Fee

Visiting Scholars

Visiting scholars in J-1 visa status may choose to be covered by insurance plans obtained overseas, or purchase a plan in the US from an American carrier. However, these plans must meet Department of State requirements.

Visiting Scholars are not eligible for Stanford's insurance plans and must obtain their own insurance coverage.

Insurance Information for Dependents

Dependent insurance services offered by Stanford University vary according to your Stanford affiliation.  

Additional Resources for Finding Health Insurance

Although the International Center does not endorse any specific insurance plan, these companies offer insurance to international students and scholars:

We recommend that you contact a local insurance broker if you have questions or concerns about insurance. A broker represents a variety of plans and is able to tailor policies to particular needs such as those specified by the State Department. One such local broker can be found here.