Planning a Long Trip? What Expatriates Need to Know
There has been a lot of talk—and even some action—in recent days about people wanting to move outside the US. Our tumultuous election cycle has inspired people from all walks of life and political leanings to at least consider the idea of emigration. For example, on election night, a high volume of visitors crashed Canada’s immigration website and New Zealand’s official immigration site saw over 56,000 visits in just 24 hours, compared to its usual 2,300 visits. Perhaps, for some, emigration is more than an impassioned threat.
If you’re seriously considering moving abroad, before you pack your bags or sign your resignation letter, we at Insurance Services of America suggest you consider your health insurance options once you leave American soil…
Many of our clients are volunteers and missionaries who live, for the majority of the year, outside of the US. In essence, they have been living an expat lifestyle while doing their philanthropic work. Though many are employed through US-based organizations, many are responsible for procuring their own health insurance coverage. But finding an insurance plan that also covers medical expenses for illnesses, injuries or wellness visits overseas and is also compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is impossible—such a plan simply doesn’t exist.
Whether you love or loathe the ACA, the fact is, this legislation did not take into account people like our clients—or expats—who work, live and need health care outside of the US.
So what are your options?
If you plan on retaining your US citizenship but are otherwise making a permanent exit from the US, so long as you are living abroad for more than 330 days in a calendar year, you are exempt from having to pay the IRS penalty for not purchasing an ACA-compliant health insurance plan. In this scenario, we provide several benefit-rich and refreshingly affordable non-ACA-compliant international health insurance plans. These plans are designed for the special considerations of receiving health care abroad. Translations services, help to find local providers and one-on-one claims assistance are just a few of the unique benefits these international plans deliver.
If you just need a break and are not planning on making a permanent move overseas, or are expatriating for less than 330 days in a calendar year, you have two options:
The first is expensive and not recommended: that is obtaining an ACA-compliant domestic US health insurance plan to avoid the IRS penalty while concurrently purchasing one of our international health insurance plans. The domestic ACA-compliant plan simply will not cover you outside of a very small geographical area (usually county or city limits) and may drop your coverage if you do not reside within that area for a minimal amount of time in a calendar year. Purchasing such a plan is a waste of your money.
The second option, and one we recommend, is to purchase a non-ACA compliant international health insurance plan—let us help you chose the best one for you—and if you become subject to an IRS penalty for not having a domestic ACA-compliant plan go ahead and pay it. The penalty in this scenario is often much, much less than paying for a plan which, although ACA-compliant, is expensive and useless to you while living overseas.
On a different note, if you are on Medicare please remember Medicare, like an ACA plan, will not cover you overseas. A great option for Medicare-age people is to buy a low cost, guaranteed issue travel medical plan. Some travel medical plans can be purchased even up to two or three years at a time. This way, you’ll be covered by Medicare here in the US and a low cost travel medical plan outside the US.
Moving overseas is a big decision. Let us help lighten the load by guiding you through your international health insurance options. Call us today at (800) 647-4589 or use our Chat box to talk with a knowledgeable Client Advisor and receive a no-obligation quote.