Health Care in the U.S.

Health care is very expensive in the United States, and there is no universal, government funded medical program in the U.S. that international students, scholars, visitors, and dependents can access to pay for individual medical costs.

You will find information below on:

  • Health Insurance Options for F and J visa holding individuals
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor, J-2 Dependents, and Health Insurance Requirements
  • Health Care Facilities
  • What do I do if I am sick?
  • Dental & Vision Coverage
  • Important Notes for Navigating the U.S. Health System

*Important note: this is not health care advice, but rather information about how to effectively utilize health resources in most cases in the U.S.

Health Insurance Options

We strongly advise all international visitors to campus to ensure they have appropriate health care coverage while in the U.S., as medical care can be expensive. Even with health insurance, not all medical expenses will be covered, and students and scholars  will need to be prepared to pay the balance of medical expenses not covered by insurance.

The University requires that F-1 and J-1 international students have health insurance coverage for the duration of their program at Notre Dame. Students will be automatically enrolled in the University health insurance plan, unless they provide proof of other comparable, U.S. based coverage to University Health Services at the beginning of the semester. Contact UHS for more information about appropriate programs, starting here.

J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors: Immigration regulations require that J-1 Exchange Visitors have health insurance that meets specific requirements, as noted later on this page.

F-2 Dependents: While F-2 dependents are not required by regulations to obtain health insurance coverage, it is strongly recommended. We advise that dependents should not attempt to utilize state Medicaid or HIP benefits, unless they were born in the U.S., as that usage may impact future visa petitions.

While we do not specifically endorse the companies below, they do offer a policy that can be used by all international students, scholars, and visitors, and they meet the J-1 regulatory requirements:

Each of these plans complies with J-1 regulations. You should compare prices, benefits, and the duration of the plans to determine which is the best fit for you. If you find an insurance policy you like from a different company, you must confirm that the coverage will meet the J-1 regulatory requirements.

For more in depth information on U.S. health insurance terminology and health care, review this resource from NAFSA: Association of International Educators

J-1 Exchange Visitors, J-2 Dependents, and Health Insurance Requirements

All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents are required to have valid insurance that meets the J Exchange Visitor Program requirements. This health insurance should be active from their day of arrival in the U.S. and for the duration of their program in the U.S.

Program participants and their dependents are required to have medical insurance coverage with the following minimum benefits [22 CFR 62.14]:

  • 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.

Additionally, an insurance policy secured to meet the benefits requirements must be underwritten by an insurance corporation with an A.M. Best rating of "A-" or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of "A-I" or above, a Standard and Poor's Claims Paying Ability rating of "A-" or above, or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above.

J-1 Scholars and Health Insurance

If you are a benefit-eligible employee (full time and paid by Notre Dame) you will be eligible for Notre Dame health insurance. Contact the Office of Human Resources at for details.

  • If your hire date is the 1st of a month, you will have insurance coverage from your first date of employment. (Please note that if you do not arrive in the US in time to begin employment on the 1st of the month, your hire date may change.)
  • If your hire date is after the 1st of a month, you will not receive university-sponsored insurance coverage until the 1st of the following month. In the meantime you have two options: You may purchase the university policy at the full price, or you may purchase a short term policy from another company. (If you are interested in the second option, you may consider the companies listed above.)
  • If you are not a benefit-eligible employee or if you choose not to purchase Notre Dame health insurance, you and any J-2 dependents must obtain insurance that complies with J-1 regulations (see Insurance Certification). When you check in with ISSA, an advisor will review your insurance and you will sign a J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Certification form.

Please be aware that you and your dependents may be subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Health Care Facilities

University Health Services at St. Liam’s Hall (for students enrolled at Notre Dame)

University Health Services is available to all enrolled students, regardless of whether they carry University sponsored health insurance. All enrolled Notre Dame international students are automatically enrolled in University sponsored insurance. More information can be found at, with a particular emphasis on this section of their site.

UHS has an extraordinary array of resources, so be sure to review carefully BEFORE you need them.

*Dependents with University-sponsored insurance cannot access UHS, but they can use the Wellness Center.

Wellness Center (for benefit-eligible University faculty, staff, and their eligible dependents)

The University of Notre Dame is committed to investing in the well-being of its faculty and staff through the Notre Dame Wellness Center and Pharmacy. It is located at 100 Wellness Center (corner of Wilson and Bulla) Notre Dame, IN 46556. This center is a state-of-the-art, onsite workplace wellness center that offers best-in-class healthcare and pharmacy services for benefit-eligible University faculty, staff, and their eligible dependents.

Off Campus Resources

If you are not benefits eligible, or need to access health care after hours, you’ll want to confirm with your insurance provider which resources in the Notre Dame area are IN-NETWORK, as that will impact the cost of accessing them.

What do I do if I am sick? 

It’s important to understand cultural distinctions in health care and how to most effectively utilize health care resources in the U.S. For example, in some countries, it is common to use the ER for minor illnesses, but in the U.S. the ER should only be used for major emergencies. If you arrive at the ER with a non-emergency, your wait may be long, the costs high, and insurance may not cover the bill. Minute clinics or urgent care may be more appropriate.

Level of Illness/Injury Recommended Resource

Minor Illness or injury

  • Cold, cough, sore throat, or flu
  • Fever
  • Minor cut
  • Sprain
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea
  • UHS or Wellness Center (during hours)
  • Telehealth (options available from most providers, including Notre Dame sponsored insurance and benefits)
  • Minute Clinic/Healthcare Clinic
  • Urgent Care (Medpoint, Immediate Care Center - South Bend Clinic, Physicians Urgent Care)


Major Emergency

  • Major injury (head injury)
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure

Emergency Room (ER)

  • Beacon Memorial
  • Beacon Granger
  • St Joseph Mishawaka Medical Center
  • Elkhart General Hospital

*calling 911 may also be appropriate here

Life threatening Call 911


It’s important to remember that one visit may result in multiple bills. For example, if an individual calls 911 and goes to the ER, they may receive a separate bill from a separate provider for:

  • the ambulance ride,
  • the ER admission and visit,
  • any scans or blood work done on that visit, and
  • any specialist who was called in.


Dental and Vision Care

Enrolled students should reach out to University Health Services who can provide information about dental and vision care plans for students and their dependents.

For benefit-eligible faculty & staff, HR can provide information about dental and vision coverage, and their site is a good starting point.

Important Notes about Health Care in the U.S.

  • International students, scholars, and dependents will be fully responsible for health care costs not covered by health insurance. Students can talk with UHS about navigating multiple bills and communicating with health care providers, and benefit-eligible faculty and staff can reach out to HR, but this support is generally informational.
  • It is important that all international students, faculty, staff, visitors, and dependents have insurance coverage effective upon arrival to the U.S.
  • It can be difficult to obtain insurance once an individual is sick or hurt, so it is important to be proactive in managing health insurance information and sign-up.
  • All health insurance questions should be directed to University Health Services (students), the Wellness Center or HR (benefit-eligible employees), or the insurance provider. ISSA is not authorized to advise students on health insurance and related claims or benefits.