Health Care for Students

The HIO has prepared a handout regarding health insurance issues for international students. All international students should have received a copy of this handout with their admissions materials.

Health Insurance Requirements for Students

The below is a summary of information. Please visit for additional information.

Required Student Health Insurance

Massachusetts law requires that students enrolled in an institution of higher learning in Massachusetts participate in a student health insurance program or in a health benefit plan with comparable coverage. All Harvard students are automatically enrolled in the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) and the cost of the plan is applied to their student bill.

The Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP)

The Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) is a comprehensive health program comprised of two parts: the Student Health Fee and the Student Health Insurance Plan

Student Health Fee

The Student Health Fee is required as part of enrollment at Harvard, and covers most services at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS). For more information, click here.

Student Health Insurance Plan

The Student Health Insurance Plan consists of hospital/specialty care coverage administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and prescription drug coverage from Express Scripts.

For more information on benefits and coverage, click here.

Important Note for Students in J Status

Both students and their dependents in J status are required by the U.S. Department of State regulations to maintain health insurance coverage that meets certain requirements. As students are automatically enrolled in the student health insurance plan there is no action to be taken. J-1 students with accompanying dependents, however, must take some action to obtain the required health insurance for their dependents. View the J health insurance requirements.

Student Health Insurance Plan Waiver

International students may be eligible to waive the Student Health Insurance Plan only if they have health insurance plans with American-based carriers that meet the Commonwealth of Massachusetts standards. Foreign-based policies do not meet Massachusetts standards.

Students are encouraged to review the information on the HUSHP website carefully before making this important decision. All waivers must be completed online each academic year prior to the waiver deadlines (fall term deadline 7/31; spring term deadline 1/31).  Additional waiver information and the online waiver application are available here.


If you plan to be accompanied to the United States by your spouse and/or children, it is imperative that you also purchase health insurance for them. As students, you are automatically enrolled in the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP). Your dependents are not automatically enrolled and must take steps to enroll in a health plan. If you do not have adequate medical insurance, an unforeseen medical problem could result in catastrophic expenses that might prevent you from completing your education or research at Harvard. If you or your spouse arrives in the United States with a preexisting condition, including pregnancy, it is essential that you plan ahead for your health insurance needs. For example, the cost of a normal birth with no complications in the Boston area could range from $8,000 to $20,000 or greater, depending on the hospital.

Dependents of students may choose the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) or a non-Harvard health insurance plan. If they do not enroll in the Harvard plan, they will not have access to the Harvard University Health Services (HUHS). The Harvard plan for families is expensive, but most available insurance plans that are less expensive will not enroll family members without the student also being enrolled. For information on enrolling your dependents in HUSHP, click here.


Dental Care

Dental coverage is not included in the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP).

Optional dental insurance for Harvard students and their qualified dependents is available through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Dental Blue Plan. As a member of the Student Dental Plan, you are eligible to receive convenient on-campus care through the Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) Dental Service or from any dentist who participates in the BCBSMA Dental Blue network. For more information on coverage, cost, and enrollment deadlines, click here.