Insurance for Postdoctoral Researchers and Visiting Scholars

Insurance for J-1 Non-Students

Individuals in J-1 status are subject to an insurance requirement stipulated by U.S. law. You will find the details of this requirement below. Postdoctoral Scholars, Fellows and Visiting Scholars in J-1 status who are affiliated with the University for more than 30 days qualify for coverage under the University's Postdoctoral Researcher Benefits Plan (PRBP) offered through Garnett Powers & Associates (GPA). If the J-1 scholar has a University appointment/affiliation that does not qualify for Garnett Powers & Associates coverage, then an independent plan can be puchased on their website.

However, you also have the option to "waive" this plan (opt out) on the basis of insurance you already carry or intend to purchase by the time you enter the United States. To waive the insurance coverage offered by the University, you must visit the GPA web site. The insurance coverage you have or will have must meet or exceed the legal requirement stated below. Upon receiving your request to waive the insurance coverage, GPA will inform you what documentation you must submit. Please note:Failing to either enroll in the PRBP or waive the insurance coverage within 30 days of your arrival at the University will jeopardize your lawful status in the United States and your standing with the University.

Please note that the University of Chicago covers that portion of the insurance requirement that calls for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. So even if you do not enroll in the PRBP, you will be covered for that element of insurance and do not have to purchase it.

If you wish to determine beforehand whether the insurance you already carry or intend to purchase qualifies for a waiver, please feel free to contact the staff at Garnett Powers & Associates at 1-800-261-7109. There also is a contact link on the GPA web site that lets you submit an inquiry electronically. You must maintain the required insurance level at all times you are present in the U.S. in J status.

Please note that individuals in J-1 status who are employees of the University of Chicago do not qualify for the GPA insurance policy; they are eligible for the standard University of Chicago benefits plan, which includes health insurance that meets the minimum requirements as stated below. Employees, therefore, do not need to obtain a waiver from GPA. If you are not sure whether you are an employee (e.g. Visiting Professor), please contact your department at the University of Chicago.

For questions regarding the insurance coverage, please contact Mr. Steven Birt at GPA. Please allow 48 hours for a response; should you not hear back within the 48 hour period, please resend your message or call GPA and leave a voice message if necessary.

For questions regarding the requirements of J-1 status or any other status-related questions, please contact your adviser at the Office of International Affairs at (773) 702-7752 or

Details Regarding the Legal Requirement for Health Insurance for Individuals in J Status

Required Health Insurance: A federal regulation, part of which is quoted in the box below, makes health insurance a condition of Exchange Visitor status in the United States, and specifies the types and levels of coverage. The requirement applies to all exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents. Under this regulation, if you fail to carry the required insurance, for yourself or your J-2 dependents, the University must terminate your participation in its Exchange Visitor program, and report that termination to the U.S. Department of State. Termination would end your J-1 status and your eligibility, and that of your J-2 dependents, for employment, and would jeopardize your affiliation with the University. Compliance is your responsibility. Some medical plans, including those offered through the University, meet the requirements. If you are considering coverage from a source other than the University, for yourself or your dependents, you should ask a representative of the provider for confirmation that that insurance meets the government requirements quoted below. It must do so in all respects except for "medical evacuation" (the cost of transportation home in case of serious illness) or "repatriation of remains" (shipment of a body to the home country in case of death), as that part will be covered by the University even for those who do not enroll in an insurance plan offered by the University.


Insurance Requirements for Exchange Visitors

Minimum coverage shall provide

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

An insurance policy secured to fulfill the requirements of this section:

  1. May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions which is reasonable as determined by current industry standards. This is currently determined to be a 6 month waiting period.
  2. May include provision for co-insur­ance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
  3. Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.

Any policy, plan, or contract secured to fulfill the above requirements must, at a minimum, be:

  1. Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ‘‘B+’’ or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above; a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ‘‘A3’’ or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
  2. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor's home country; or
  3. Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated spon­sor; or
  4. Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Quoted from the Federal Register, March 19, 1993, page 15201, revised, October 6, 2014, page 60317

Companies that provide insurance for J-1 Scholars and their J-2 dependents include but are not limited to:

1) Garnett-Powers & Associates; 2) ISO Insurance; 3) Compass Benefits Group; 4) Betins International Health & Travel Insurance; 5) Seven Corners; 6) Visit International Health Insurance; 7) Rust & Associates Insurance; 8) Cultural Insurance Services International; 9) INSUBUY; and 10) International Student Insurance.