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Health Insurance for Expats in the USA – 5 Important Things You Should Know

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Health Insurance for Expats in the USALeaving your own country and settling down in an altogether new country is exciting yet daunting too at the same time. Learning new rules, regulations, laws and culture is tough at least in the beginning. And when it comes to a country like the USA, you have some strict rules to follow, one of the most important among them being the health insurance purchase.

An expatriate is also known as expat. This is a person who leaves their own home country and settles down in another country. While living as an expat in the USA, it’s highly important to secure sufficient international health insurance to cover you in the USA as well as your home country and other countries you may travel to.

1. Health Insurance for Expatriates in the USA

If you are moving to the United States, you should understand that the country doesn’t need all expats (or even US citizens) to buy medical coverage. However, when you live in the US without medical coverage, there is a risk of getting huge hospital bills or worse even, no access to medical care when you may need it. Some newer rules may require certain expats on select types of visa to have medical coverage.

Healthcare costs in the United States tend to be more than that in other countries for a few reasons. US doctors tend to prescribe more scans and tests than those in other countries. Other reason is that the country experiences a comparatively high rate of medical inflation.

2. International Medical Care in the USA

The quality of healthcare available in the USA is typically of a high standard. Health care here is provided by private clinics and hospitals. Due to this, citizens need to have private medical insurance. Several times, insurance is provided by an employer to cover the employee and their immediate family. Because of the increasing costs, more and more employees need a help to cover the expense of health insurance.

If the medical coverage is not provided by an employer or if it is not adequate, most people have to buy international medical insurance on their own.

Retirees can get health care coverage through the federal Medicare program, while the poor can get it through the federal medical aid program named Medicaid.

3. Cost of Healthcare Coverage for Foreigners in the USA

Cost of the healthcare coverage or premiums depend on some factors including age, country of origin, medical history and so on. It’s recommended to have more comprehensive insurance for US healthcare coverage because although it can cost a lot, cost of not having it can be far higher. For example, the scans and tests doctors usually prescribe are expensive and usually not covered by budget health care insurance plans.

Health Insurance for Expats in the USA

4. ACA Penalty and Expats or Individuals Living in the USA

The shared responsibility provision is a part of the ACA alias Affordable Care Act also known as ObamaCare. The goal of ACA is to make sure that all US citizens as well as permanent residents have a right to use quality health insurance.

Any non-resident foreigners, including international students on F, J, M and Q visas (along with certain family members of the students) don’t come under the individual mandate for their initial five years in the country. All other J categories (work and travel, trainee, teacher, high school, au pair, etc.) don’t come under the individual mandate for 2 years (out of the past six).

Foreigners living in the United States for a period short enough that they cannot become resident aliens for federal income tax purposes are not subject to the individual shared responsibility payment even if they may need to file a US income tax return.

Other individuals not subject to this rule include:

  • Nonresident aliens
  • Dual-status foreigners in their first year of residency in the US
  • Nonresident or dual-status foreigners who choose to file a joint return with a US spouse
  • Those who file a Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ (including a dual-status tax return for their final year of U.S. residency)
  • Those who have appealed for a personal exemption on Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ

All United States citizens living in the USA as well as all permanent residents and all foreign nationals who are living in the USA long enough during a calendar year to be eligible to be resident foreigners for tax purposes are subject to the individual shared responsibility provision. This group includes nonresident foreigners who fulfill specific presence requirements and choose to be treated as resident foreigners.

5. Travel Healthcare Insurance for Travellers to the United States

If you are an expat living in the United States, extra healthcare coverage need to be bought for the period you’ll be living in the country. You also need to make sure this coverage will protect you in case of a medical emergency, accident as well as repatriation. You need to research if you’ll require this insurance before arriving in the country and if it should come from the US, your home country or both.

For the durations less than one year in the United States, a travel medical plan may be sufficient to cover your requirements. For younger travelers needing basic emergency healthcare insurance (instead of major comprehensive healthcare cover), a travel medical plan can be fine. Most travel healthcare insurance plans offer coverage for illness or accidents, protecting you from huge medical bills if you need a visit to a doctor or hospital in the USA and also give you access to universal pharmaceutical care as well as translation services, in case you need them.

Do your research and get adequate medical coverage for you and your family before moving to the USA and get the desired peace of mind.

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