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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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The Issue of Health Insurance for International Students


Health care in the United States is difficult, particularly for international students.

While health care in the United States (US) is among the best around the globe, it is complex, challenging to navigate, and extremely expensive. In addition to this, the US lacks universal access and a national healthcare system, which requires students to purchase a private insurance program. International students, when exposed to noticeable differences between the healthcare system in North America and the one back in their homelands, often experience difficulties in arranging a plan because of supplementary costs and the lack of awareness about its importance.

“The healthcare system is very expensive,” Alex Pia, Director of International Student Services said. “The problem is that when students come here, health insurance is optional. They assume that as long as you don’t get sick, you don’t need insurance.”

Many students from different national backgrounds do not pursue a health plan beside the one offered by their colleges due to a lack of understanding of how important a more comprehensive health plan can be. This can lead to several complications once these students find themselves in need of medical care but have no insurance to finance it. According to Pia, a certain number of Knox students go through this difficult situation each year. 

Bruno Freitas, a first year International Student from Brazil, is an example of these cases. On the morning of January 21st, 2023, Freitas had to undergo surgery, but he had no health care plan to cover the costs of the procedure.

“We really never think something serious can happen,” Freitas said. “The information delivered to [International Students] about health insurance is a bit indirect. We are expected to spare, for example, about 300 dollars for books, medical care, and others. Just like the books, which students may or may not purchase depending on how much they think it will be used in class, health insurance is only considered if someone believes it is actually necessary.’

Pia has been aware of issues with International Students having access to health insurance and discussed the issue with administration:

“I went to the administration and I said I believe we should make [health insurance] mandatory. In the end, their decision was not to require it since it would make the cost to come to Knox College significantly more expensive,” Pia said.

Due to the dollar gaining strength against the currencies of other major economies, in addition to the Federal Reserve raising its interest rates, throughout the years it has become increasingly more expensive for International Students to finance their studies in the United States. Requiring health insurance for students could become a barrier for them coming to Knox College since it would become an additional cost for attending. Furthermore, it is no guarantee that health insurance plans will cover all the student’s medical necessities, such as medication, eye tests, dental exams, general checkups, and surgical procedures. For those students that are not able to afford these extra expenses, Pia believes students should prioritize getting the care they need.

“If you find yourself in a difficult situation in which you need health assistance, but you don’t have the money; go get your treatment and we will figure it out. Your health, your life, can not have a price tag. Don’t allow expenses to interfere with your highest priority,” Pia said.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, 2014 update. How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally. (2014, June 16). Retrieved April 21, 2023, from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2014/jun/mirror-mirror-wall-2014-update-how-us-health-care-system 

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About the Contributor
Julia Maron
Julia Maron, Staff Writer
Julia Maron '26 (she/her) is a staff writer in TKS since her freshman year. She is a psychology and creative writing double major. Julia spends her free time writing, drawing, profoundly reflecting upon the deepest secrets of the human physical existence, and reading.

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