Study Abroad Health Insurance
Northwestern University requires undergraduate study abroad students to have GeoBlue Global Health insurance coverage (or an established equivalent) for the entire period of time they are studying abroad.
Step 2: Purchase GeoBlue insurance
Note: Maintain domestic health care coverage while abroad. Northwestern University’s Student Insurance Office requires all full-time students to have [U.S. domestic] health insurance coverage during study abroad enrollment to avoid any gaps in coverage in case a medical emergency abroad requires the student to return to the U.S. early for continued treatment or recovery.
- Programs providing GeoBlue; students exempt from purchasing GeoBlue
- Programs with comparable coverage; written acknowledgement required
- Program with comparable coverage; written acknowledgement NOT required
- Programs with insufficient coverage
Programs providing GeoBlue; students exempt from purchasing GeoBlue
Some study abroad programs will enroll participants in GeoBlue coverage; therefore, participants in those programs should not purchase GeoBlue themselves. Currently, this applies to the following:
- Programs administered by Northwestern's International Program Development (IPD)
- Programs administered by Northwestern's Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI)
- Arcadia University (Exception: Students attending the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand must purchase GeoBlue through Northwestern.)
- Barcelona Summer Spanish Language & Culture program
- Bologna Consortial Studies Program (BCSP) - Indiana University
- Boston University
- Middlebury Schools in China, Latin America & the Middle East
- The British American Drama Academy (BADA) - Sarah Lawrence
Several programs with whom Northwestern affiliates offer medical insurance and assistance coverage through CISI. Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security has reviewed these plans and deemed them comparable with GeoBlue, although some important differences in coverage require acknowledgement. Such students may seek an exemption from the GeoBlue purchase requirement, so long as they acknowledge an understanding of the differences between the policies. This exemption request must be made in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org at least six weeks prior to planned departure (some exceptions apply).
Currently, this applies to the following:
- The Alliance for Global Education
- IES Abroad
- The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University (IFSA-Butler)
- University of Minnesota
Coverage differences between CISI and GeoBlue plans are as follows:
- The Northwestern-GeoBlue plan has a $0 deductible whereas with some providers the CISI plan has a $100 deductible. Also, in most locations, students may have to pay upfront for non-emergency care, such as office visits. With GeoBlue, students can seek treatment at a facility that will bill GeoBlue directly.
- The CISI prescription plan does not cover oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices or Plan B. Elective termination of a pregnancy is covered only to $500, and there is no maternity care or nursery care for a newborn child. The Northwestern-GeoBlue plan covers all of these things with no limits.
- Should the student experience a medical emergency in their study abroad destination (or another location in which they travel during the program), Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security’s ability to assist will be limited if the student is not covered under the Northwestern-GeoBlue plan.
- The CISI plan has more exclusions that bar coverage, such as hang-gliding, parasailing, parachuting, bungee jumping, car racing, horse racing and motorbike racing. The Northwestern-GeoBlue plan excludes only scuba diving, hang-gliding, parachuting and bungee jumping. This does not mean that students can’t participate in these activities, but it means that if they become ill or injured as a result of the experience, the cost for the care (which is likely to be expensive) would not be covered.
Several programs with whom Northwestern affiliates offer medical insurance and assistance coverage through other providers. Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security has reviewed these plans and deemed them comparable with GeoBlue, and students need not do anything further. Please indicate your exemption in the pre-departure section of your Northwestern Application:
- Lewis & Clark: Year of Study in Munich
The following programs’ international medical assistance and insurance plans have been reviewed by Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security and have been deemed insufficient.
Students enrolled in the following programs must purchase the Northwestern-GeoBlue plan:
- Council on International Education and Exchange (CIEE)
- Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
- Junior Year in France
- Junior Year in Spain
- School for International Training (SIT)
- SU Abroad in Florence
- Programs offering sole coverage under the International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
Students who study abroad in their country of citizenship may not be required or eligible to purchase GeoBlue. In order to receive a citizen exemption from purchasing GeoBlue, the following criteria must be met:
- The student is an international student (typically an F-1 or J-1 visa holder)
- The student’s permanent residence is the same as the proposed country of study
- The student is registered or enrolled in a health care plan in the proposed country of study
Any student who believes they meet these conditions can contact Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security at email@example.com or (847) 467-3899 to confirm they qualify for a citizenship exemption.
If you are attending a study abroad program that is not on any of the above lists, but have verified that your program includes a plan provided by GeoBlue or CISI, please email Alicia Stanley in the Study Abroad Office at firstname.lastname@example.org and include a copy of the insurance policy for review.
For questions about the GeoBlue requirement, contact Alicia Stanley in the Study Abroad Office at email@example.com.