After waiting nearly 5 years, we finally have clarification on the new health insurance regulations set forth by the US State Department released into the Federal Register the changes to Sub-Part A of the Exchange Visitor Program.
Covering a wide range of areas, the key focus for us was the new insurance requirements for the J1 visa. Having been put in place in 1993, the current levels of $50,000 for medical coverage, $10,000 for evacuation and $7,500 for repatriation was generally perceived as too low – and many in the industry had been calling for higher limits to safeguard participants.
In 2009, when the original comment period was release for sub-part A, the levels were placed at $200,000 for medical, $50,000 for evacuation and $25,000 for repatriation – so it had been widely accepted that these levels would hold true through to the final rule.
However, when the rule was released yesterday, we learned that as of May 15th 2015 the new J1 visa insurance requirements will be:
- 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 exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
- Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
The other major change to the insurance requirements is the addition of two new rating categories, the ‘‘A-’’ rating by Fitch Ratings, Inc. and the ‘‘A3’’ rating by Moody’s Investor Services will now be accepted with the other rating agencies of AM Best, ISI, Standard and Poor’s and Weiss. Although the rule goes into effect on the 5th January 2015, sponsors have been given a grace period until May 15th 2015 to raise their levels of insurance coverage.
Overall, the insurance changes are a welcomed increase, and the only surprise was that the medical benefit coverage was only $100,000 and not $200,000 as had been widely accepted. For more information about group insurance coverage for J1 participants and sponsors, please visit our site Work and Travel Insurance Services for more information.