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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.

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.

Next Steps

Step 1: Find rates and learn about GeoBlue insurance

Step 2: Purchase GeoBlue insurance

Mobile options for GeoBlue insurance: iPhone App and mobile website


Programs providing GeoBlue or HTH Worldwide; students exempt from purchasing Northwestern's GeoBlue policy

Some study abroad programs will enroll participants in GeoBlue or HTH Worldwide coverage; therefore, participants in those programs should not purchase Northwestern's GeoBlue policy 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
Programs with comparable insurance; written acknowledgement required

Several partners 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 some of them comparable with GeoBlue, although some important differences in coverage require acknowledgement. Currently, this applies to programs offered by the following partners:

  • The Alliance for Global Education
  • IES Abroad
  • The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University (IFSA-Butler)
  • University of Minnesota

Students participating on programs offered by those partners may seek an exemption from the GeoBlue purchase requirement as long as they acknowledge an understanding of the differences between the policies. This exemption request must be made in writing at least six weeks prior to planned departure (some exceptions apply). To seek an exemption, send an email to your Study Abroad Adviser and include the following:

  • Your name
  • Your program and term
  • The program provider (MUST be one of the 4 partners listed above)
  • A statement indicating that you have understood the policy differences described below, have discussed them with your family, and would like to be exempt from Northwestern's GeoBlue requirement.

Coverage differences between these CISI plans and Northwestern's GeoBlue plan 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.
Programs with comparable coverage; written acknowledgement NOT required

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
Programs with insufficient coverage; students MUST purchase Northwestern's GeoBlue policy

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's CISI policy
  • Junior Year in Spain
  • London School of Economics
  • School for International Training (SIT)
  • 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 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 should contact your Study Abroad Adviser to confirm they qualify for a citizenship exemption. Please provide information about how you meet the criteria above in your email.

Questions about GEOBLUE 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 GeoBlue, HTH Worldwide, or CISI, please email your Study Abroad Adviser and include a copy of the insurance policy for review.

For questions about the GeoBlue requirement, contact your Study Abroad Adviser.