Visiting Scholars & Postdocs Services

Health and Welfare Benefits for International Visiting Scholars

Please note: The weekly health insurance meetings for international exchange visitors at the Tang Center have been discontinued. The health insurance advisor will be available to answer questions at the mandatory Berkeley International Office Scholar Information Meetings held at the International House.

University Health Services - Tang Center Visiting Scholars and their spouses can use the Tang Center for health care services on a fee-for-service basis (with some limitations). Payment is due at the time of service. For more information, view this link. To learn about University Health Services - Tang Center, see this link.
Definition of Visiting Scholar See the Visiting Scholar Definition.
Overview of Insurance Requirement EFFECTIVE 12/1/2010: All domestic and international scholars whose appointment dates are on or after 12/1/2010 are required to show proof of medical coverage that meets specified benefit levels.

1. US State Department Requirement:

All international non-immigrant Exchange Visitors at UC Berkeley with J-1 visas (visiting scholars and visiting student researchers, collectively, "scholars") are required to have health insurance that meets the US State Department J visa health insurance requirement (see below for a summary). The health insurance must be in effect for the entire duration of their stay in the United States. This requirement also applies to all accompanying J-2 dependents (spouses and/or children).

2. UC Berkeley Requirements:

UC Berkeley policy requires both domestic and international scholars to have health insurance meeting specified benefit criteria. This policy took effect on December 1, 2010. It is now mandatory that international J-1 visa exchange visitors have health insurance that meets both the J visa requirement and the new UC Berkeley policy, which is stricter in two respects:

  • Minimum medical coverage must be $100,000, instead of $50,000
  • Deductible must be no more than $250 per policy year, rather than $500 per accident or injury
Because UC Berkeley's policy regarding minimum medical coverage and deductible is stricter, it takes precedence over the J visa requirements. To ensure that all scholars have health insurance meeting all requirements, scholars can enroll in the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan (UCBVSBP), which is managed by Garnett-Powers & Associates ("GPA"). The UC Berkeley-sponsored health insurance plan is specifically designed to meet both the J visa and UC Berkeley policy requirements.
US Department of State J Visa Health Insurance Requirements

These guidelines meet the U.S. Department of State regulations for J-1 visa holders in effect as of 10/7/99

Each J visa exchange visitor must have health insurance with minimum coverage described below. The health insurance plan must meet all of the following coverage requirements established by the US Department of State and required by UC Berkeley:
  1. Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness. UC Berkeley requirement is $100,000 per accident or illness.
  2. Deductible no greater than $500 per accident or illness. UC Berkeley requirement is an annual deductible that does not exceed $250.
  3. $10,000 minimum coverage for expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country.
  4. $7,500 minimum coverage for expenses associated with repatriation of remains to exchange visitor's home country.
  5. Pre-existing conditions must be covered after a 12-month waiting period.
  6. Coverage may include a provision for maximum 25% coinsurance or co-payment paid by the exchange visitor. Coinsurance must allow for customary & reasonable charges in US dollars, not equivalent cost for services in home country.
  7. Coverage cannot exclude benefits for perils inherent to the activities of the program in which the visitor participates
  8. Policy must be underwritten by an insurance corporation meeting the US Department of State rating requirements or backed by the full faith and credit of the visitor's home country government, designated sponsor, or exchange visitor's employee group plan.

Cost of US Health Care: Health care in the US is very expensive, and many US healthcare providers will not bill international insurance companies. We recommend that you have a readily available income source (such as a credit card with a high spending limit) to pay for treatment of accidents, illnesses or preexisting conditions. Be prepared to pay for any and all medical services and to be responsible for submitting claims to the insurance company for reimbursement.

US Government Programs: As a non-immigrant J-1 Exchange Visitor, you and your dependents (family members including spouse and/or children) are not eligible for any state or federally-sponsored healthcare programs (such as Medi-Cal or Healthy Families), except in limited circumstances.

Coverage Options All scholars must provide proof of insurance that meets all of these requirements or purchase an alternate insurance plan that meets these guidelines within 31 days of arrival at UC Berkeley.

The UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan (UCBVSBP) is underwritten by UnitedHealthcare, a leading US health insurance company, and is managed by Garnett-Powers & Associates. See policy information and rates below.

NOTE: Scholars must complete an enrollment form to purchase the UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan or waive (opt out of) enrollment. Detailed instructions are found here. If the scholar chooses to waive the UCBVSBP, he or she must provide written proof of policy benefits in English, with coverage limits converted to US dollars. The scholar may also complete a Certificate of Health Insurance Coverage to accompany policy documents.

Preferred Provider Organization ("PPO") Plans The UCBVSBP is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. In a PPO plan, the insurance company contracts with specific groups ("networks") of health care providers (doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities) to offer services at a reduced cost. Using PPO "network" providers saves patients money. Services received from providers that are not part of the PPO network are more expensive to the patient because the services are reimbursed at a lower rate. See Health Insurance Terms and How U.S. Insurance Works.
Eligibility for Enrollment All domestic and J-1 visa international visiting scholars and visiting student researchers are eligible to enroll in the UCBVSBP. Scholars may only enroll in the UCBVSBP within 31 days of first arrival at UC Berkeley. After that time period, the scholar must purchase other insurance and provide proof of coverage by completing the online enrollment form to opt out of the UCBVSBP.

The UCBVSBP is available to scholars' dependents provided the J-2 dependents enroll within 31 days of their first arrival in the US. J-2 dependents cannot enroll in the plan unless the J-1 scholar is also enrolled.

UC Berkeley Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan Benefits: Please refer to the Plan Brochure for a complete list of covered services.

UCBVSBP Benefits:
  • Maximum lifetime benefit amount is $100,000 for each injury or sickness.
  • This plan is a PPO plan. The Preferred Provider for this plan is UnitedHealthcare Options PPO.
  • Deductible is $150 per injury or illness. (Preferred Providers only)
  • Most services obtained from Preferred Providers are covered 90% after deductible.
  • Services provided by non-PPO providers are covered at 70% of usual and customary charges after deductible.
  • Maternity services are a covered benefit.
  • Maximum $400 per visit benefit limit for use of emergency room and supplies (unless admitted).
  • Maximum $950 benefit limit per policy year for diagnostic X-ray and laboratory services.
  • Prescription drugs are covered when they are obtained from a network pharmacy, at $15 copay (generic) or $30 copay (brand name). Maximum $700 benefit limit per policy year.
  • Pre-existing conditions are covered after six months of continuous coverage under a UCBVSBP plan.
  • Medical evacuation expenses and repatriation of remains expenses are covered at actual cost. Scholastic Emergency Services includes emergency medical evacuation and return of mortal remains that meet the US State department requirements.
  • An Accidental Death & Dismemberment Coverage (AD&D) benefit of up to $5,000 for the scholar is included.

UCBVSBP Exclusions:

  • This is an accident and sickness medical plan. Preventive care and routine dental or vision care are not covered.
  • Conditions that existed in the 6 months prior to enrollment are not covered ('pre-existing conditions').
The above is a summary of benefits and exclusions. For a complete list, print the plan brochure. Scholars must enroll online.
Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance All J visa holders must have insurance coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. If your health insurance policy does not cover these provisions, you may purchase a policy through the University. The policy is available for download here.
Additional Health and Welfare Services See Additional Health and Welfare Services for Visiting Scholars & Postdocs.
Questions For all questions, please call Garnett-Powers & Associates at (888) 441-3719 or email
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