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Health Preparations and Insurance

It is important for you to consider how your pending study abroad experience may affect your health. At a minimum, you will have to take into consideration jet lag and flight fatigue, changes in the water, diet, and climate, and different personal standards, for example, having to walk distances you might ordinarily drive.

Additionally, as students expand the breadth of study abroad destinations, you may need to consider additional environmental factors. These may include, but are not limited to, tropical climates and disease, high altitude climates, and extremes in temperature.

It is highly recommended that you have updated dental, vision and general physicals prior to your departure, particularly for longer-term programs. It is important to inform your health care professionals of your plans, and ask them for any advice they may want to share. You should also check the website for your expected destination(s) and download the appropriate information to share with your health care professionals.

Health Insurance

The UNC system has implemented a mandatory health insurance program for students participating in international educational activities. This requirement can only be waived for students intending to study at destinations that require participation in the national health care system of the host country, and with prior approval of the study abroad coordinator.

Many US health insurance programs do not cover students outside of the United States. Even those that do don’t offer medical evacuation and repatriation insurance. These coverages are required in the most extreme circumstances, when the last thing you and your family will want to think about are paying these expenses!

Please note that the UNC insurance will cover you everywhere except in your country of citizenship. For those of you who are US citizens, it is highly recommended that you maintain your domestic coverage while you are away. This will provide you with insurance benefit in the event of a medical evacuation, and will not subject you to any potential gaps in coverage, which may affect insurance of any pre-existing conditions that you may have, upon your return to the United States.

This information is to provide you with a brief overview of health issues and insurance. You are always encouraged to contact the Study Abroad Coordinator with specific questions that you may have.

Pre-existing conditions

If you have a condition that you have previously identified, it is important to share this information with those responsible for your welfare at your proposed destination, particularly if you receive on-going treatment and/or accommodation for your particular situation. If your health care situation is particularly complex you may need to pre-determine care on site prior to your departure. It is important to note that there is very little to prohibit any student from participating in a study abroad program, but it is vital to ensure that your needs are met prior to your departure.

If you take prescription medication, it is important to make sure, if at all possible, that you take a full supply of your medication with you. It is also important to ask your physician for a prescription with the generic name of your medication, as brand names can differ overseas. It is also advisable for you to take medication with you in your carry on luggage in the containers provided by your pharmacist.

If you have a prescription for a controlled substance for which you cannot receive a supply for the duration of your overseas stay, you must contact the study abroad office with the particulars of your situation to ensure that you will be able to participate in your intended program.