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There is confusion for some people when it comes to health insurance in the United States. This is even after all of the healthcare reform laws and the updating of systems in place. For people who are visiting the United States on an H1B visa, research needs to be done so that you can get the top health insurance plan for your situation. In 2010, the United States passed the Affordable Care Act, also called ACA or Obamacare, and the healthcare system in the country has gone through many changes since. Both US citizens and permanent residents are now required to have healthcare coverage that is compliant with the ACA.
People who fail to have healthcare insurance pay a fine when filing their tax return. To fully understand the Affordable Care Act, utilize the articles on the site which explain it more. Also, keep in mind that there are two important stages for H1B visa holders that they need to keep in mind. Each of these stages has different insurance requirements, so in this case, knowledge is power. Keep reading to learn more about the different stages and healthcare insurance requirements, and avoid penalties that can come from not having an ACA compliant healthcare policy.
With two common paths to obtaining an H1B visa, the requirements in terms of health insurance can be varied. Depending on which stage in the process you are in, you may or may not be required to have a healthcare insurance plan. When listed as a non-alien resident in terms of US tax purposes, H1B applicants are not required to maintain ACA coverage. Once someone becomes a resident alien, however, H1B visa holders are subject to the Affordable Care Act, just like a US citizen or permanent resident is.
Health insurance requirements for people who hold H1B visas are dependent on which stage of the process the visa holder is in. The two main stages that people need to pay attention to are nonresident alien status and resident alien status.
Non-resident alien status is generally the first 6 to 10 months on the way to full H1B visa status. The non-resident part of this stage is the reason people in it are not subject to ACA requirements. With two common paths to getting this type of visa, the time spent in this status can vary. People who are already in the United States as an international student and participate in OPT, and then have an employer sponsor them, are taking the first path. The other path is for people who are just arriving in the United States on the visa. Once the process starts, and you are in non-resident alien status, you need to make sure that you are doing research about your health insurance requirements.
When a person becomes a resident alien, the requirements of the Affordable Care Act kick in. Options for insurance that is ACA compliant are more varied, and people can get employer-sponsored insurance or get insurance through the state and federal health insurance exchanges. There are also non-ACA coverage plans, which are an option for people who are waiting for their employer's insurance plan to kick in.
Insurance plans that people who have an H1B visa can get include getting health insurance through your employer, purchasing a plan on the ACA marketplace, or buying a short-term insurance plan and paying a fine. In some cases, an employer may offer health insurance benefits, giving an easy path to meeting the ACA requirements. You will want to know how much you will be paying towards it, how much they will pay towards it, what the waiting period is. Also, whether the plan is Affordable Care Act compliant, and what the out-of-pocket costs are in the plan.
The same questions need to be asked about plans that can be purchased on the ACA Marketplace. All of the plans on the marketplace are Affordable Care Act compliant. Sometimes this can take a little bit longer to research, but the insurance plans tend to kick in faster than employer-provided insurance. You will need to input the state you are living in, including ZIP Code, to create an account on the ACA website.
A last option that people have is to buy a short-term healthcare plan and pay the fine.
For people who are visiting the country on a short-term basis, or temporarily, insurance plans are not required to meet the individual insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act. This type of coverage policy can help prevent gaps in coverage and make sure that people have adequate medical insurance while they travel. Most of these plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, maternity, wellness, or preventative care.
Long-term stay insurance is another type of insurance policy for people to consider. These plans are designed for people planning on staying in the country for a longer period. If you are on H1B visa, the amount of time you are saying the country is important. For people who are resident aliens, an insurance policy is needed to meet the requirements of the ACA. Make sure to research whether or not you will need an insurance policy for your trip, and whether it needs to be ACA compliant.
In the United States, there is no free healthcare. People who are visiting the country may need to buy visitor insurance to be covered. If your family comes and visits you in the United States, they need to have an insurance policy. Insurance costs in the United States can be quite expensive. Employer-based insurance plans do not cover visiting family, although they may cover your spouse and dependent children. Other people, including aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and other family members, are not covered under your plan.
This is also important to keep in mind if you are coming to the US to attend job interviews or explore potential cities to live in. A travel health insurance plan, or visitor insurance, is an integral part of protecting yourself financially. You will want your coverage to last for as long as you are in the country, and plans are available for purchase in 30-day blocks.
Long-term domestic insurance is also available for spouses and other direct family members.
A person’s non-resident alien status generally happens during the first 6 to 10 months of the application process for an H1B visa.
After a non-resident alien status, a person who is applying for H1B visa status can become a resident alien. This means that they are required to have a policy under the ACA. If you do not have an insurance policy, you may be required to pay a fine when you file for your taxes.
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