America; the land of the free and home of the brave. But did you know itâ€™s also home to the most expensive healthcare system in the world? Itâ€™s probably not all that surprising, however, if youâ€™re thinking about traveling to the US for a holiday or for work purposes then youâ€™ll probably want to be informed about how to insure your health while traveling America.
Who needs insurance in the US?
When youâ€™re traveling through America on holiday, most tourist visas issued don’t require you to secure health insurance, but they do require you to pay for any medical care out of pocket. If you consider that heart bypass surgery costs USD 140,000 in the States (compared with USD 25,000 in Singapore, and USD 15,000 in Thailand) then youâ€™ll need to be financially prepared for paying for care completely out of your own pocket. That can get expensive.
People traveling to the US for work purposes may be required to obtain Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant health insurance. If youâ€™re required to file US taxes then you are covered by the ACA mandates (regardless of whether youâ€™re a citizen or not) and will need to obtain a plan that meets the Minimum Essential Coverage requirements. For more information on the ACA and compliant plans, see here.
Those of you who arenâ€™t required to file US taxes, therefore, have no need to seek out ACA compliant plans. Instead, your options are international insurance plans or travel insurance.
If youâ€™re looking for expat insurance, international plans are the most comprehensive policies available that can cover your medical care needs not just in the US, but also in your home country and elsewhere around the world! While they are more expensive than a travel policy, your international plan will cover you like a local insurance plan with the following benefits:
- The ability to claim for care in an extensive list of global locations (covering Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas)
- The ability to add optional extras such as dental or maternity care (at extra cost)
- A wider choice of private and semi-private hospitals, medical staff, and healthcare options
These plans are the number one choice for many globally mobile expats who live and work away from their home country over the long term. These plans replace the need to seek out different coverage whenever youâ€™re traveling to multiple areas, and many worldwide insurers offering such plans are well-established brands with reputations and networks in many countries.
Travel insurance is perfect for short-term visits to the US when youâ€™re not legally bound by the ACA to secure compliant coverage. Such policies are generally your least expensive form of insurance and provide coverage for travel-related emergencies such as lost luggage and travel documents. From a healthcare perspective, travel insurance policies will provide you with:
- Repatriation costs
- Emergency medical care (including evacuations deemed necessary)
- Accidental death or dismemberment
The important thing to remember with these policies is that theyâ€™re designed for short-term travelers (coverage is generally for 1 to 3 months, but 12-month policies are available). This also means that the care side of your coverage is only really designed to get you well enough to fly back to your country of origin.
Expat insurance needs
As an expat, youâ€™ll want to think about what your insurance needs and requirements are in advance. While you can seek out quotes and make comparisons online, using the help of an insurance broker that has experience in serving expat clients can take a lot of the hassle out of the process.
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