Your health is a top priority while you are here as a student, scholar or employee. To this end, Tufts provides a variety of resources to support its students and employees. These include health insurance plans and programs, student health centers, and a variety of wellness programs. Learn more about these resources below.
In the US, you can call 9-1-1 from your phone if you have a medical emergency. A 9-1-1 operator will assist you with your medical emergency and if necessary call an ambulance to take you to an emergency room at a local hospital. Please note: in the US, emergency medical services and drop-in visits to a hospital emergency room can be extremely expensive and should be used only for serious medical situations and emergencies. For routine, non-emergency health care, arrange an appointment with at your student health center or with your doctor.
Health care in the US is extremely expensive, and health insurance is extraordinarily complex. As a result, it is vitally important that students, scholars, and employees protect themselves by having adequate health insurance and understanding the terms and conditions of their health insurance plans. Failure to have or use health insurance properly can lead to extraordinarily high medical costs and extreme financial hardship. Because of these considerations, Tufts requires international students to enroll in our student health insurance plan or show that they have alternative insurance that provides comparable coverage.
Health Insurance Basics
Health insurance is an extremely complex legal and practical matter for persons living and residing in the US. Unlike many other countries, the US does not have a national health insurance system. Instead, health insurance is provided by different sources - including schools, employers, and public and private insurance providers. In addition, different providers may offer different insurance plans with varying levels of coverage. Insurance coverage may also vary depending on the type of medical procedure, the level of insurance coverage, and the health care provider offering medical services.
Under Massachusetts state law, all students attending full-time programs at Tufts are required to have health insurance. Tufts offers different student health insurance to its students. Students who do not wish to use Tufts's student health insurance must show that they have coverage from an acceptable alternative source that meets or exceeds the insurance provided by Tufts. In addition, Tufts offers health coverage benefits to qualified employees, including postdoctoral researchers.
If you are a scholar and you are not eligible for student or employee insurance, you must obtain private health insurance. In particular, J-1 visa holders should be aware of J-1 visa health insurance requirements (which also apply to J-2 dependent family members).
Insurance plans often use terminology that can be extremely confusing to students, scholars, and employees. Below you can find common medical insurance terms. Please note that the definitions below are intended for general information. Always consult with your insurance provider with your specific questions about your insurance plan.
Premium: this is what your insurance provider charges for the cost of providing insurance coverage to you. Premiums are often charged on a monthly basis, although student insurance charges are typically on a semester basis.
Co-Pay: this is a charge that you may have to pay when visiting a doctor or medical care provider, or when filling a prescription for medication. For example, you may need to pay a $20 copay when visiting a doctor or $10 copay when getting medication from a pharmacy. The amount of your co-pay is determined by your insurance plan.
Deductible: this is the amount you yourself must pay for a certain type of medical procedure before the insurance plan starts to cover treatment costs. Once you reach the deductible, the plan may pay for 100% of costs or a certain percentage of the remaining costs.
Out-of-pocket maximums: this is the maximum amount you will pay during the insurance plan coverage period for a particular type of medical service covered by your insurance plan. Depending on the insurance plan specifics, the out-of-pocket maximum can include the amount you pay for co-pays, deductibles, or other costs that you are required to cover yourself.
Primary care physician and Specialists: Insurance plans often require that you first see a primary care physician, which is usually a family doctor or internal medicine doctor who provides basic patient care. If necessary, your PCP may refer you to a specialist for more specialized medical treatment. In many situations, you must first get a referral from your PCP before you can see a specialist; otherwise, your insurance plan may require you to pay a higher level of cost for any medical procedures or treatment.
In-network / Out-of-network: insurance plans very often establish different rates for doctors, pharmacies, and other health care providers that are inside or "within" a particular network. Charges - including co-pays and deductibles - and covered services may be higher and covered services more restricted if you use an out-of-network provider. For this reason, it is extremely important when visiting a doctor to identify providers that are inside your plan's network.
Special Insurance Requirements for J-1 Exchange Visitors
J-1 Exchange Visitor Insurance Requirements
All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their J-2 dependents are required by federal regulations to have medical insurance for the entire period of their stay in the U.S. You may select the medical insurance that is best for you and any family; however, under J-1 visa regulations, your insurance plan must meet the following minimum coverage requirements:
$100,000 per accident or illness
Medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000
Repatriation coverage of $25,000
A deductible of no more than $500
Tufts Employee Health Insurance
If you are eligible for health benefits through Tufts University, your sponsoring department should schedule an orientation with the Human Resources Department immediately upon your arrival.
At the Benefits orientation, please be sure to inform them if you have J-1 status. The Benefits Office is located at 200 Boston Avenue, Tufts University, Medford Campus. They can be reached at 617-627-3270.
If you are eligible for health insurance benefits through Tufts, but choose not to participate in any of the plans offered, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you maintain insurance coverage which meets the J-1 health insurance requirements, as previously described on Page 1.
Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows are offered a separate health benefits package. For questions on this type of package, contact the Student Advisory & Health Administration (120 Posner Hall, 200 Harrison Avenue). They can be reached at 617-636-2700 for questions.
The insurance plan offered to postdoctoral associates & postdoctoral fellows by Tufts meet all of the J-1 Health Insurance Requirements, including "Repatriation of Remains" and "Medical Evacuation." Repatriation of Remains and Medical Evacuation coverage is only for those J-1 scholars who are benefits eligible and who have enrolled in one of the benefits insurance companies offered by Tufts.
If you are not eligible for health insurance benefits from Tufts University, you are required to purchase your own insurance coverage which meets J-1 regulations. Contact the International Center if you need information about health insurance options.