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Health Insurance Requirement

The U.S. Department of State mandates that all J-1 Scholars and their J-2 dependents have and maintain adequate health insurance. If you are receiving a salary from UC Merced, you may be entitled to health insurance as part of your compensation package. Check with your hosting school to see if you are eligible.

Effective September 1st, 2014, all J-1 Visiting Scholars must obtain health insurance coverage through the UC Merced Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan, unless you are eligible for UC Merced Sponsored Postdoctoral insurance benefits, or UC Merced Full or Mid-Level insurance benefits. Please visit the Garnett-Powers website to:

  1.  Enroll in the insurance program, or
  2.  Apply for a waiver, if you will provide your own insurance. To be eligible for a waiver, the insurance evidence that you provide must meet the J-1 insurance requirement below. Your evidence of insurance coverage will be evaluated by Gallagher. 

Minimum levels of health insurance coverage must provide:

1.   Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per illness or accident;
2.   Deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness;
3.   Expenses associated with medical evacuation in the amount of $50,000;
4.   Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
5.   Coverage for pre-existing conditions after a 6-month waiting period;
6.   Provision for co-insurance/co-payment that does not exceed 25 percent of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
7.   Policy underwritten by an insurance company that meets the rating requirements of the US Department of State or backed by the full faith and credit of the home country government, designated sponsor, or Exchange Visitor’s employee group plan. *
Anyone without insurance must obtain health insurance that complies with the requirements outlined above before UC Merced’s Office of International Affairs can validate your visa. It should be purchased prior to your arrival in the United States.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Benefits provided through Garnett-Powers Associates (Meets all government regulatory requirements)


Other Paid UC Employees

Benefits provided through UC Merced Human Resources for certain employees. Information about available insurance plans is located online at
Includes all benefits available to UC employees based on scholar’s payroll title and duration requirements. Scholar or employing department must purchase medical evacuation and repatriation of remains benefits. You can download and complete the A-G Medical Evacuation and Repatriation coverage application, here.  The application and payment must be submitted by mail. 
 Contact: Departmental benefits coordinator or human resources representative at UC Merced.

Health Insurance Plans for International Scholars and Visiting Student Researchers

For J-1 Exchange Visitors whose appointments are without salary or who are not eligible for university health insurance due to another reason, there are several insurance companies offering plans to meet the requirements and needs of J-1 Exchange Visitors. Following are a few available options that meet the U.S. Department of State requirements:
The Harbour Group, LLC -
ISO - Student Health Insurance -
UC Merced does not endorse these companies, and there are many other insurance companies that meet the State Department’s requirements. It is important that you are comfortable with the insurance provider and understand your policy. OIA staff is not able to help you choose an insurance plan.
* For health insurance coverage from another source, the insurance corporation underwriting the policy must have one of the following ratings: 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.