While some Americans don’t have access to affordable health insurance, foreigners living in the USA are often faced with the opposite problem of too many choices.
Health insurance in the USA can be very confusing and overwhelming, but it’s very important that you get coverage if you want to stay healthy while living in America.
Here’s an overview of how to get health insurance in the USA as a foreigner. If you find yourself needing more details, though, make sure to check out our complete guide on getting health insurance in the USA as a foreigner.
How I got health insurance
Many people moving to America are concerned about health insurance. You might be worried about what will happen if you need medical attention while living here, or perhaps you just don’t like having gaps in your coverage.
If you have time before your move, there are a few ways to secure coverage. For example, many plans offered by employers extend overseas.
What is a Short-Term health plan?
Short-term plans are much cheaper than comprehensive policies but don’t cover pre-existing conditions.
They generally offer lower monthly premiums and less coverage than you’d find with a long-term plan, which makes them ideal for those who aren’t eligible for Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies. Short-term health plans have up to 12 months of coverage and typically renew every year.
If you go without coverage at any point during your life, your insurer can cancel your policy, even if you have an existing condition—though many state laws don’t allow insurers to deny people with pre-existing conditions altogether.
Even if they don’t reject you outright, they may refuse to renew your plan or charge more because of your pre-existing condition.
Where can you buy short-term plans online?
Short-term coverage, sometimes called limited-duration plans or medical gap coverage, is designed for people who expect their absence from an employer’s group plan will be less than 365 days. (The open enrollment period is 364 days.)
These plans are generally not available outside of open enrollment, though some states have created special short-term options that are available year-round.
The premiums on these plans tend to be higher than employer-based coverage; some employers cover all or part of these higher premiums. The federal government does not run any public marketplaces for short-term plans. But private online brokers and agents may sell them nationwide.
You should compare prices and policies at several of these companies before choosing one because premium amounts vary widely.
How do short-term health plans work in the USA?
Short-term plans can be designed to fulfill many purposes. They might be seen by some as poor man’s alternatives to Obamacare, but with no government subsidies available, they are frequently bought by people who don’t qualify for government subsidies or have access to better coverage via their employer.
Short-term plans do not have any of the same mandated benefits that ACA-compliant plans are required to offer, including maternity care, mental health treatment, and prescription drug coverage.
However, if you qualify for an exemption from Obamacare’s mandate that all Americans carry healthcare coverage then short-term plans may well fit your needs; which brings us back full circle – short-term plans are not designed for everyone.
Pros and cons of short-term health plans
One option is short-term health plans, which are good for just three months and don’t have to adhere to ACA rules.
If you do choose a short-term plan, be aware that insurers can deny coverage for preexisting conditions or base rates on your medical history—and many don’t cover maternity care or prescriptions.
Also, because plans are meant for temporary circumstances (think: travel abroad), they aren’t eligible for premium tax credits or other subsidies. If you do want a more stable option, there’s one more possibility: buying an individual market plan with subsidies.
How do you decide which Health Insurance policy is right for you?
Choosing an insurance policy for your business isn’t always easy. It can be overwhelming trying to decide what is right for you and your employees, but it doesn’t have to be so hard.
There are some key things that are vital when choosing your company’s healthcare policy. Take some time and make sure you take these considerations into account when searching for medical coverage
Understanding Coverage Terms and Limits
Health insurance coverage terms and limits can be confusing, but they’re important to understand. Without knowing them, you may not be able to determine if your doctor or hospital is covered.
Here are some of the basics:
-Hospitalization coverage provides financial protection against unforeseen medical bills while you’re hospitalized.
-Maternity care covers medical costs related to pregnancy and labor and delivery. Some plans cover abortion, too; others do not.
-Emergency care has similar coverage for unexpected, serious injuries or illnesses that may occur outside of a hospital setting—like on vacation or at work—in order to keep you from financial ruin after an injury or illness occurs.
The Flexibility Problem with HSA’s (Health Savings Accounts)
In some cases, HSA contributions are limited by an individual’s or family’s income. For example, in 2013, single individuals with an income of $95,100 or more can’t contribute to an HSA unless they have coverage through Medicare or certain other qualifying sources (for example, Medicaid).
Individuals and families that don’t have employer-sponsored coverage and whose incomes exceed certain levels may not be able to claim a tax deduction for HSA contributions at all.
It’s also worth noting that under Internal Revenue Service rules, you can only deduct unreimbursed medical expenses from your taxes if they exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
Above that threshold, you’re allowed to deduct only expenses over 7.5% of AGI.
Shopping Around for Health Insurance as a Foreigner in The USA
If you’re new to America, shopping for private health insurance can be confusing. There are so many different plans and providers, how do you know which is best for you?
Start by searching for an affordable or comprehensive plan (or both!). It’s true that these terms are often used interchangeably, but there is actually a difference between these two types of plans.
A comprehensive plan will cover more services while an affordable plan will cost less but may not offer some of the benefits that other plans do.