Health Insurance Literacy Among International College Students

A Qualitative Analysis


  • Adebola Adegboyega University of Kentucky, USA
  • Chigozie Nkwonta University of South Carolina, USA
  • Jean Edward University of Kentucky, USA



health insurance literacy, international students


In this qualitative descriptive study, we examine health insurance literacy among a group of international college students. They were recruited from a public, co-educational Southeastern university in the United States during the fall semester of 2016 to participate in semistructured interviews. Data were gathered through a demographic questionnaire, two focus group discussions, and individual interviews. Interview sessions were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Three themes emerged, including knowledge of health insurance options and benefits information, affordability, and unmet expectations. These findings show the need for higher education institutions to develop a plan to integrate international students into U.S. health care. International students are a vulnerable population; therefore, increasing health insurance literacy is vital to making an optimal health insurance choice, improving access to health care, and using health care efficiently. Future research should tailor educational interventions to mitigate poor health insurance literacy among international college students.

Author Biographies

Adebola Adegboyega, University of Kentucky, USA

ADEBOLA ADEGBOYEGA, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the College of Nursing University of Kentucky. Her major research interests lie in cancer control and prevention, health promotion, and health disparities. 

Chigozie Nkwonta, University of South Carolina, USA

CHIGOZIE A. NKWONTA, RN, RM, MSN, PhD, is a post-doctoral fellow in the Arnold School of Public Health Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior and South Carolina SmartState Center for Healthcare Quality, University of South Carolina, Columbia. Her major research interests are HPV vaccination, cervical cancer screenings and HIV stigma

Jean Edward, University of Kentucky, USA

JEAN EDWARD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing and Nurse Scientist at Markey Cancer Center UK HealthCare. Her major research interests lie in social determinants of health, health disparities, access to care, financial/insurance literacy and costs of care. 


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How to Cite

Adegboyega, A., Nkwonta, C., & Edward, J. (2020). Health Insurance Literacy Among International College Students: A Qualitative Analysis. Journal of International Students, 10(1), 50–68.



Research Articles (English)