Returning Expats to United States Create a Qualified Life Event as far as the ACA is Concerned
As we pass the halfway point for the second full year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) I find that people are still just as confused as they were before the kick off date of January 1, 2014. In this post I want to talk specifically about how and why the U.S. Expat that returns home to the United States to live again permanently needs to know how the ACA will look at them. When I talk to people who are considering a life abroad one of the biggest decisions they need to make is whether or not they will include coverage to INCLUDE the United States as part of their International Certificate of Cover.
To complicate things even further most people are not sure what to do with their current U.S. Domestic coverage should they move abroad. Well a couple of things need to be pointed out. First, if you are planning to live outside the borders of the United States or even your home state you will need to contact your insurer and find out exactly at what point do they no longer consider you an eligible subscriber. Even if you intend to continue to pay your premiums – you more than likely are wasting your money as once you move abroad you technically are no longer a resident of your state nor your country. This will affect how long you have before your insurer will terminate your cover primarily because you have moved.
Even if you maintain a resident in your home state you are not living there and therefore most insurers if a large claim situation should rise could deny benefits because you no longer meet the definition of a resident. DO NOT GUESS as to what your insurer might do – get a copy of your certificate of coverage and READ IT. Then call them and discuss this situation in detail with them. If they consider you to be no longer eligible once you move abroad why pay them any longer?
Return To United States = Qualified Life Event
When a U.S. Citizen returns home (moves back) under the current ACA this return triggers or creates what is called a Qualified Life Event. What this means is that upon your return you are eligible to enroll in any available ACA Compatible plan either through your State Exchange (if one exists) or through the Market Place. This enrollment does not have to be within the Open Enrollment period but one can enroll within 60 days of returning home into any qualified plan at any time within the 60 day period. So no matter the status of your health you can enroll into an ACA plan regardless of your health status and outside the standard Open Enrollment periods. The ACA helps protect your insurability in this way.
Qualified Life Events DO NOT = Immediate Coverage
It is extremely important to point out that the fact that a returning Expat triggers a Qualified Life Event AND it is true that your health status does not matter with regards to enrollment. When you return home and assuming you enroll into a qualified ACA Compliant plan as soon as possible when exactly does the coverage begin? The effective date depends on the date you complete your enrollment. So here is the deal… If you enroll in a plan prior to and including the 15th of any month then your effective date will be the 1st of the following month. If you miss this mark and enroll anywhere from the 16th to the end of the month your effective date will be the 1st of the next month. This means that you could be uninsured for as long as almost 6 weeks.
Moving Abroad? Get the Proper Cover
It is true that the Affordable Care Act has created some challenges for Expats. But too many people are misinformed as to their choices. Others are spending big money to maintain policies that may not pay in the event of a tragedy. They will find little or no help abroad when qualified medical care is needed. Who is going to help you while you are traveling or living abroad? If you plan to return frequently to the United States or you just want the option to come home on a moments notice because of a health condition or medical emergency then start by choosing the right health plan in the first place. There are a plethora of international insurers to choose from but there is really only one stand out company that clearly offers the out-bound U.S. Expat with comprehensive coverage and global tools that follow you anywhere on the globe. There is but one insurer that carries the brand of the Blue’s and it is a fully admitted U.S. Based insurer. That company is GeoBlue!
GeoBlue offers several comprehensive global contracts designed to specifically meet the needs of the U.S. Expat or Expats living and working for U.S. based companies abroad. Options that will coordinate with existing ACA Compliant coverage, options for full Global cover including the United States, and plans designed to meet the specific needs of the Missionary, Maritime Crew Member and Students/Faculty. Make sure you understand your coverage before you leave. Make sure you understand how your existing domestic coverage works abroad. Make sure you know the process for obtaining health insurance once you decide to move back home. Make sure you have a health care advocate that is equipped to help and meet your needs should medical attention be required.
We Are Here to Help
It is important for your to know that you do have a resource to go to. I am one of but a very few Full Time U.S. Based International Health Insurance brokers working with people all over the globe. Before you do anything please reach out to me and let me see if I can be of help to you. I can walk you through the process and help you make choices that work effectively for your family. The challenges everyone faces when moving abroad are enough to melt most anyone down. There are so many things that need to be considered and taken care of prior to departure and while living abroad. One of the most overlooked areas of responsibility is proper International Health Cover and it is in this area that we can help you meet the needs of your family.
We are easy to reach and in most cases we are just a phone call away. Call me at (307) 690-0427 or send me an email to “Sales@Individualhealth.com“. Visit our Website if you wish to shop online or take the time to visit our blog International Health Insurance Simplified. If you would like to received updated blog posts simply subscribe to our blog by providing your email address and each time we post something new you will receive notification in your InBox. For those of you who prefer Social Media visit our FaceBook Page or find us on Twitter @JacksonHoleTim.