Affordable Care Act Compliance Now Required
As we approach the first of the year and the final implementation of the Affordable Care Act , people are scrambling to better understand what they are required to do. The recent policy cancellations are finally hitting home and people are worried. So much information is coming in through the media and other information outlets that people simply are not able to get their heads around this whole thing.
It is clear that if you are an American citizen you will be required to purchase an Affordable Care Act compliant health plan or face financial penalties to be carried out by the IRS. But what about the U.S. Expat living outside the boarders of the United States? How does this law affect them? What if any requirements must they meet in order to avoid financial penalties for not complying with the new law? I hope this post helps those of you who are Expats better understand what options you may have.
If you are living abroad permanently and you do not spend much time here in the U.S. then you may have nothing to be concerned about. The current threshold as I understand it is 35 days. 35 days is the amount of time a U.S. Citizen can visit the U.S. within a 12 month period and not be subject to the penalty for not having an ACA Compliant health plan. If you spend more than 35 days per year in the U.S. then you have a problem.
35 days is the threshold that separates penalty from no penalty. So for those of you who may live abroad for 6 months or longer but spend a significant amount of time here in the U.S. you will have to either acquire a ACA qualified health insurance plan, adjust your visits to be less than the 35 day threshold or pay the penalty when you do your taxes at the end of the year.
Currently there are NO Individual International health plans that are considered to be ACA Compliant with the exception of some International Group plans such as the GeoBlue Group products. But if you are responsible for your own coverage then you currently have no International Option that meets the ACA benchmark. Although companies like GeoBlue have applied to HHS (Health and Human Services) for consideration of their plans to be qualified as ACA Compliant – this has not happened yet and it may take some time in light of all the launch problems the government has been experiencing with HealthCare.gov.
What To Do?
There are a couple of options to consider when living abroad and still meet the ACA Compliance required by U.S. Citizens. One option to consider is to purchase an ACA Compliant health plan and along with it apply for an International Expat health plan that excludes coverage while in the United States. This will cut your International premiums in almost half. So what you end up with is a U.S. Health plan that covers you while you are in the United States. When you leave the U.S. your International plan covers you overseas.
The second option is to apply for an Expat policy that covers you 24/7 worldwide including the United States. This gives you complete coverage no matter where you seek care. If your visits to the United States falls below the 35 days per year in the U.S. you should be fine and not subject to the ACA penalty.
The third option is to again apply for a complete worldwide Expat policy and if you are in the U.S. more than 35 days per year you simply pay the IRS penalty. If you are employed in the U.S. and your employment requires you to travel back and forth to the U.S. you might consider negotiating the cost of the penalty in your employment contract. You still have to pay the appropriate penalties but if your employer requires you to be in the U.S. for business purposes that exceed the 35 day requirement your employer in effect picks up the cost of the penalty.
The last option is to apply for a small group policy that is ACA Compliant. But you must have at least two full-time employees to qualify for the group coverage. For many small contractors this may be an option and a good one at that. A group plan eliminates the need for a U.S. based plan and your can travel back and forth as needed.
GeoBlue for U.S. Citizens are the Go To Guys
GeoBlue offers simply the most comprehensive International plans for U.S. Expats and foreign nationals employed by a U.S. based company. GeoBlue offers Expat policies that cover you just while you are outside the borders of the U.S. and they offer Expat policies that cover you 24/7 worldwide including the U.S. The hope is that as some point in the future GeoBlue will be successful in obtaining the proper blessing from HHS eliminating this whole problem but until they do you have to choose the best option for your family as it exist today.
Check out the Xplorer plans currently available from GeoBlue by clicking on the blue button below and see what option may best suit your needs. If you click on the brochure image to the right you can view the Xplorer Brochure at your convenience. If you have questions call us as we are here to help. GeoBlue is the only U.S. based carrier offering complete Expat coverage where their plans are administered based on U.S. laws. They take a first position for claims should the need for care arise. Their 24/7 concierge type assistance is second to none – worldwide.
Call us at (619) 435-6700 and let us see if we can help you make the right choice based on your current needs. We can also email you quotes based on your circumstances or you can apply directly online from the quote link below. U.S. Citizens have never had a better choice for Expat coverage til now.