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Study Abroad Health Insurance

Northwestern University requires undergraduate study abroad students to have HTH Worldwide health insurance coverage for the entire period of time they are studying abroad, regardless of any other coverage they might have through their parents, Northwestern, or their study abroad program (even if their program provides insurance coverage). Domestic healthcare plans, such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS), do not contain adequate provisions for health care coverage in countries outside the U.S. and cannot be substituted for an international plan.

Next Steps

Step 1: Find rates and learn about HTH insurance.

Step 2: Purchase HTH insurance

Note: Maintain domestic health care coverage while abroad. Northwestern University requires all full-time students to have health insurance coverage during enrollment. Because HTH applies only while abroad, not while in the United States, study abroad participants are strongly encouraged to maintain domestic health insurance coverage while abroad to avoid any gaps in coverage. This is particularly important in case a medical emergency abroad requires the student to return home early for continued treatment or recovery.

Mobile options for HTH insurance: iPhone App and mobile website


Programs exempt from purchasing HTH

Some study abroad programs will enroll participants in HTH Worldwide coverage; therefore, participants in those programs should not purchase HTH themselves. Currently, this applies to the following:

  • Programs administered by Northwestern's Office of International Program Development (IPD)
  • Programs administered by Northwestern's Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI)
  • Barcelona Summer Program
  • Renewable Energy in Bonn Summer Program
  • Istanbul Summer Program
  • Finding Nano in Munich Summer Program
  • Arcadia University
  • Indiana University - Bologna Consortial Studies Program (BCSP)
  • Middlebury Schools in China, Latin America & the Middle East
  • Sarah Lawrence: The British American Drama Academy
  • Boston University
Programs with comparable insurance; written acknowledgement required

Several programs with whom NU 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 HTH, although some important differences in coverage require acknowledgement. Such students may seek an exemption from the HTH purchase requirement, so long as they acknowledge an understanding of the differences between the policies. This exemption request must be made in writing to 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)

Coverage differences between CISI and HTH plans are as follows:

  • The NU/HTH 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 HTH, students can seek treatment at a facility that will bill HTH 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 NU/HTH 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 NU/HTH 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 NU/HTH 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.
Programs with insufficient coverage

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 NU/HTH plan:

  • Council on International Education and Exchange (CIEE)
  • Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
  • Junior Year in France
  • Junior Year in Spain
  • SU Abroad in Florence
  • Programs offering sole coverage under the International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

Studying in Country of Citizenship

Students who study abroad in their country of citizenship may not be required or eligible to purchase HTH. In order to receive a citizen exemption from purchasing HTH, 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 or (847) 467-3899 to confirm they qualify for a citizenship exemption. 

Questions about HTH requirement

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 HTH or CISI, please email Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security at and include a copy of the insurance policy for review.

For questions about the HTH requirement, contact Julie Anne Friend, Director, Global Safety and Security at 847-467-3175 or