While you’re living outside of the country there’s no requirement for you to have US health insurance. Once you return this changes. You may be thinking about how you can avoid waiting periods and pre-existing ailment restrictions, when you apply for health insurance on your return.
If you’re coming back to live in the country after a period away you’re probably going to have a lot of issues to think about. So worrying about waiting for your health insurance cover to start, or worrying about whether it covers a condition you’re already suffering from is probably the last thing you need.
Do I have to apply for health insurance when I return to the country?
If you’re back in the country temporarily you may not have to apply for health insurance if you choose not to. There are regulations that control how long you have to be back in the country before you’re required to be covered by health insurance. These regulations state that if you’re back in the country for more than 35 days you need to apply.
You may think that you’re covered by travel insurance if you’re only travelling back to the country temporarily but this isn’t necessarily the case. You would have to have nine months of coverage for that qualifying year even taking into account the short gap rule which allows you to have one break in coverage of up to three months. This is to try and prevent the cost of people coming back to the country on travel insurance solely to benefit from medical treatment, and then leaving again.
How soon can I apply?
If you want to apply for health insurance when you return to your home state there are special rules in place which allow you to do so straight away via the subsidized State insurance Exchanges which have been put in place for people who either cannot afford insurance or cannot get insurance at that time.
You also have the option to purchase health insurance privately but you should note that from 2015 your policy will be expected to cover you for a specified minimum amount of health coverage. The fact that you have access to the State Insurance Exchanges at least means that you’ll not be without health insurance on your return.
What about a pre-existing health condition?
If you’re returning to the country and you already have a health condition you aren’t going to want to face the possibility of not being covered for your health issues. You shouldn’t worry about this as under the Affordable Care Act insurance providers are not allowed to refuse health insurance, or charge higher premiums, because a person is suffering with a health condition. This is the case whether you have been living in the country all the time, or you have been living abroad for a period of time.