The U.S. health care system is different than in most other countries. Instead of socialized or government paid medicine, here each person has to pay for their own medical care- costs to see the doctor, obtain prescription medications, have labs/procedures done, and for expensive hospital stays. Health insurance helps cover the costs of such visits as just seeing a doctor can cost at least $75 and if admitted to the hospital, the cost can range from $2500 per day to over $30,000 per day!

Without insurance, the person would be responsible for paying all of those costs. With insurance, the person would be responsible to only pay a portion (usually a co-pay) for these costs. Therefore, it is very important and useful to have health insurance to help navigate and afford the U.S. health care system.

As an international student, it is important to know that the U.S. government does not pay any part of any medical expenses for international students and it is a violation of immigration law for F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 students and/or their dependents to accept public assistance. It is important to sign up for an insurance plan prior to becoming ill or injured as most insurance companies will not allow enrollment after these occur, as these would be considered a “pre-existing condition” for which the insurance companies are not mandated to provide coverage.

International students must enroll or waive in the Suffolk Student Health Insurance Plan (SSHIP) to comply with Massachusetts state law. Students must be covered either through their own U.S.-based qualified insurance plan or the Suffolk Student Health Insurance Plan (SSHIP).

International students with a parent or spouse who is employed by a U.S. company and who are covered under a U.S. health insurance plan through that company, may be eligible to waive the SSHIP. This means that as an international student, the student will be automatically enrolled and billed for SSHIP, and it will be up to the student to discuss eligibility for waiver and provide the necessary documentation for that waiver.

Students who are enrolled in the SSHIP will be billed and re-enrolled each August. The SSHIP will become effective on August 21st for all undergraduate and graduate international students, except law students. If you will be attending Suffolk Law School, the health insurance will be effective on August 10th.

English Language for Internationals

The Office of Health & Wellness Services has worked with Second Language Services to be able to offer access to the Suffolk Student Health Insurance Plan to individuals participating in this program. Students who will be studying in Boston during the summer in one of these programs are encouraged to enroll in the health insurance plan by completing the enrollment form and sending the form with a check or money order to University Health Plans. Contact University Health Plans and speak with Tien Lam for more information at 800.437.6448 or at

The University has arranged with our insurance broker to provide an additional month of coverage for one month immediately prior to the start date of the regular insurance plan.  Students who will be arriving earlier than the above dates may enroll for this additional month of coverage by visiting the University Health Plans website and downloading the International Student Early Arrival Enrollment Form and sending it with a check or money order to University Health Plans.  Contact University Health Plans and speak with Tien Lam for more information at 800.437.6448 or at

Students should go Suffolk Health  & Wellness Services first, for any health care needs. With the SSHIP, Suffolk Health Services can serve as the primary health care provider for the student. This means that all health care can be done by these clinicians. With this in mind, the hospital emergency department should only be used for life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Students should always carry their insurance card. Most hospitals, doctors and pharmacies work directly with insurance companies for payment. Without the insurance card, students may be required to pay the cost themselves and then apply to be reimbursed by the insurance company.