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Insurance Requirements for UNM International Students

Health insurance is REQUIRED for all international students for their entire stay at UNM.  Students who are not covered by health insurance are in violation of UNM and U.S. policy, could be subject to tax penalties, and are financially responsible for all medical charges incurred in the U.S.  Since health care in the U.S. is extremely expensive, as an international student YOU need to take these requirements seriously, think carefully about the kind of health care coverage you will need while in the U.S., and select the appropriate insurance for your situation.  IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DO THIS AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR STAY AND THROUGHOUT YOUR TIME IN THE US! You will need to show your insurance proof in English to GEO before the end of the first week of classes.

Information sessions about these requirements are offered in the first week of the semester ONLY.  Contact GEO for dates.


International graduate students who receive graduate assistantships for 10 or more hours per week are offered UNM health insurance paid by the assistantship department.  Assistantship students do not need to take any further action unless they want to add dependents or dental or eye coverage to their plan (contact Office of Graduate Studies for more information).  The department offering the assistantship cannot charge students for this insurance or ask them to waive out.


If you are coming to UNM for one semester or one academic year as a J1 non-degree student, you MUST buy a plan from this website: There are 4 plans to choose from.  Please make sure to read through the plan descriptions carefully to find out what the insurance does and does NOT cover and choose the plan that is best for you!  Remember that all the plans on this site have a waiting period of at least 6 months before they will cover you for pre-existing conditions, so if you have an existing illness, you are older than 24, you have lived in the US for more than 5 calendar years, or if you want more than the emergency coverage provided on this website, you may need to purchase additional insurance to ensure your medical expenses are covered.


Students on an athletic scholarship are required to purchase the plan offered through the Athletics office.  


Students who are financed or on visa documents from a government sponsor or agency such as SACM, SABIC, AMIDEAST, LASPAU or Fulbright should check with their sponsor to see if the sponsor has bought them insurance.  If so, you will need to present your insurance card and benefits information in English when you check in with GEO.


(Includes Degree-Seeking Undergraduates and Graduates WITHOUT an assistantship):

UNM no longer offers paid health insurance to international students.  If you are in the US as a degree-seeking student, you will need to do research on the health insurance plan you choose.  You will show insurance proof in English to GEO.  In general, you will be choosing between 2 types of insurance coverage:

1)     An “emergency-only” plan which can be much cheaper, but does not cover preventative care, excludes pre-existing conditions, and has many other exclusions


2)     A more comprehensive plan that you purchase from the US government health insurance “Marketplace” at (this insurance will not meet all J1 visa requirements, so if you choose this you will need to also buy medivac and repatriation insurance)


If you are going to choose this option, we recommend you buy one of the 4 policies on the International Student Insurance (ISI) website:

All of these policies and any other emergency policy you choose MUST meet minimum US government requirements for J1 visa holders which are:

  • $100,000 minimum per person per accident or illness
  • $25,000 for repatriation of remains
  • $50,000 for medical evacuation
  • No more than $500 deductible per accident or illness
  • Coinsurance must not exceed 25% payable by the exchange visitor or sponsor

Make sure to read through the plan descriptions carefully to find out what things the insurance does and does NOT cover and choose the plan that is best for you!  This insurance does not cover preventative care.  Also, all the ISI plans have a waiting period of at least 6 months before they will cover you for a “pre-existing condition” and if you allow any gap in insurance dates for any reason, you are then buying a new insurance policy which will “reset” the 6-month waiting period as well as any “deductible” that you paid under the policy you bought before.  The UNM Student Health Center (SHAC) will not send a bill for these types of policies, so you will have to file a claim form with your insurance company every time you use the student health center if you want the insurance company to pay or to count the charges toward your “deductible” (the amount you have to pay for each illness before the insurance company pays).


We do NOT recommend you have this type of insurance if you are 30 or older, you have a pre-existing condition or you anticipate that you will have high medical need, or you have lived in the US for more than 5 calendar years.  Instead, we strongly recommend that you sign up at for the more robust US “Marketplace” insurance (students who live in the US for more than 5 years become “tax residents” and are subject to tax penalties if they do not have “ACA compliant” insurance).



If you want to buy a better health insurance plan, if you are an older individual, or if you have pre-existing conditions that need to be covered, we recommend you buy a health insurance plan through the government insurance “Marketplace” as an “International Student”. You can also buy an insurance plan for your spouse and dependents on the Marketplace.  Even if you intend to enroll in Marketplace insurance, you should buy a short-term emergency plan at the website here: to cover you until the Marketplace insurance begins.


To enroll, you have to apply during the normal enrollment period for the calendar year (October through November for insurance that begins in January) or you have to qualify for a “Special Enrollment Period (SEP)” exception.  You only have 60 days from the date you moved to New Mexico or lost your previous insurance to apply.  Prepare the documents listed below then call +1-800-318-2596, or go to the Be Well NM location on 6403 Menaul NE, 87110.  (This is a free community service). If you already have an SSN, you can join through the website:



If you want to buy outside of the normal enrollment period covering the calendar year - called the “Special Enrollment Period (SEP)”, you will first need to prove that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) applies to your case and be “Verified” by the marketplace. You cannot start the application until you are “Verified”.  This means that you should apply to be “Verified” as soon as possible.  Once you get verified you will be able to start your application in the Marketplace and have health insurance coverage.  Here is what you need:


  1. Proof that the SEP case applies to you:

If you are coming to the United States for the first time you can apply AFTER you arrive (buy short-term health insurance until the Marketplace insurance is approved!):

  • You will need a copy of your VISA, a copy of the entry stamp in your passport, and a copy of your I-94 as proof that you moved from another country.
  • You have 60 days from the date of first arrival in the US as a student to apply for government marketplace health insurance. After that you will not be able to buy government marketplace health insurance coverage until the next open enrollment period (usually October) and it will not start until the next calendar year.


   If you are moving from another State or another University (all required):

  • If you had insurance through your old university, you will need a letter from your old school stating when student health coverage ended or will end.
  • UNM enrollment document (request a letter from GEO)
  • You have 60 days from the day your previous health insurance ended to apply for a new government marketplace health insurance plan. After that you will not be able to buy government marketplace health insurance until next year.


  1. Documents to verify your Immigration status: (ALL are required)

-        Copy of your Passport

-        Copy of your I-20 or DS-2019

-        Copy of I-94


  1. Documents to verify your household income: (Provide any and all that show your funding situation)

-        Scholarship or assistantship award letter or contract

-        Letter, deposit or other proof of funds that you are living on

-        Certification of financial responsibility (like the one you gave to UNM)

-        US Tax Return (if you worked in the US)

-        W2 or pay information (if you worked in the US)


  1. Documents to verify your current residency: (2 proofs needed)

-        Valid Unexpired Driving License / Driver Authorization Card with current address

-        Valid Unexpired State ID with current address

-        Lease agreement

-        School enrollment document (letter from GEO is ok)

-        Current utility bill


  1. Documents to verify your Social Security Number: (If you have one)

-        Copy of Social Security Card

-        OR Copy of your last year’s tax form if you filed in the US (1040NR or 1040NREZ)


  1. Documents you need to verify your Identity: (1 proof needed)

-        Valid Unexpired Foreign Passport

-        Valid Unexpired Driving License (Real ID license)

-        Valid Unexpired State ID (Real ID)




For more details about the available plans and comparing coverages, you can check or

These are the current companies that have plans through the Marketplace:

-        Blue Cross Blue Shield

-        Christus

-        Molina

-        New Mexico Health Connections