Health Insurance in the USA

What Obamacare means for expats

Health Insurance in the USA

It is important for immigrants, who want to live and work in the USA, to think about the many possible health insurance options.

ObamaCare has gone into effect. The fundamental idea behind this reform is to guarantee every US citizen access to good, affordable medical care. Before the reform, about 60 million citizens had no health insurance. ObamaCare should insure 95 percent of the 310 million Americans.

The official name of the law, whose main components went into effect on October 1, 2013, is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA). For simplicity, however, it has been named after its initiator, Barack Obama. The entire law is effective as of January 1, 2014. The final deadline for taking out an insurance policy has been postponed to the end of March 2014. 

By that date, every American is required to take out an insurance policy, which particularly applies to the big group of people who had no previous health insurance. These people either chose not to be insured or they could not afford to pay insurance premiums. The idea behind the reform is that every American citizen can afford health insurance if everyone is forced to participate. Those who refuse to take out health insurance coverage have to pay a fine. 

Every American has been able to go to the  website since October 1, 2013. This website is like an insurance market where the suitable insurance package can be chosen based on age, income, co-payment, etc. There are various levels of insurance, with different services covered and, therefore, different prices.

As an immigrant do you have freedom of choice in health insurance?

We interpret the law as follows: your insurance coverage must include the ten most important insurance benefits:

  1. Outpatient services
  2. Emergency services
  3. Hospital stays
  4. Pregnancy and birth
  5. Mental illness and substance abuse
  6. Medication
  7. Rehabilitation (for injuries, invalidity or chronic illness)
  8. Laboratory tests
  9. Preventative medical examinations and wellness
  10. Pediatric care

These services must be confirmed by the insurance company and the written confirmation submitted with the tax report in order to avoid paying the fine. You should either insure yourself through your future employer in the USA with an American company, or with a German or another European health insurance company. 

If you decide to insure yourself with a German or different European insurance company, it is important to know how long you wish to leave your homeland. If you already have a return date, it is recommended to choose an overseas insurance policy with a time limit. If you do not know how long you wish to stay abroad, a long-term insurance policy without a time limit would be the better choice.

In addition, it is important to think about the time after your overseas stay. You certainly want to receive the best health insurance coverage upon your return to your homeland. Think about the possibility of deferring the benefits or making a leave of absence agreement. 

This article has been submitted by German Health Plans .

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