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Your birth country does not define love. Nowadays, many US citizens are marrying foreign immigrants. While your love is strong, the process of your new spouse becoming a US citizen is long. (We are not lawyers, and do not pretend to be. If you need legal assistance, consult an immigration attorney.) There are many things you need to do. For example, two important steps include marriage timing and green card application. There are a lot of rules and regulations. It’s easy to overlook all of the aspects. There is one aspect that usually on the backburner. That is health insurance. Yes, health insurance. In this article, we discuss planning for health insurance before marrying a non-US citizen.
Why Health Insurance Before Marrying A Non-US Citizen?
Before marrying a non-US citizen, you need to do a bunch of things. I won’t list them all here because you can go to any immigration law website and find out.
We receive many phone calls and emails. We receive many calls or emails from newly married couples. They realize their non-US citizen spouse can’t be on their group employer health insurance. (Nearly all group employer plans require a social security number.)
That is right. You did not know that, right?
Here is something you do know: you know how important – and expensive – health insurance is here in the US, right?
Your spouse can’t be on your health insurance until he or she receives her social security card, and essentially receives the green card. Of course, some foreigners can if they meet certain exceptions as defined by CMS.
Obtaining the green card usually 2 takes years, but it can be more. Don’t be surprised.
So, once settled in, you need to figure out a health insurance plan for your new wife or husband. Better yet, start taking care of it now.
You don’t want to wait. A sickness, illness, or injury can happen at any time. Moreover, we receive many phone calls from frantic US citizens feeling rushed to get this done. Don’t wait so you can truly analyze the best option for you and your non-US citizen spouse.
Health Insurance For Non-US Citizens
Depending on your new husband’s or wife’s situation, there are a few different options. That is the good news. There are, of course, bad news – if you want to call them that. There are disadvantages to every decision and health insurance for non-US citizens is not immune.
One disadvantage is that the alternative health insurance plans do not meet the Affordable Care Act requirements. The insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. Or, if it does, they limit coverage. But, if you purchase a policy before any diagnosis, the insurance covers your condition. So, don’t delay. Anything can happen while you wait for that social security number.
Another disadvantage is that insurance does not cover pregnancy. We receive many phone calls from American men who are looking for health insurance for their new, non-US citizen spouse because she is pregnant. While you generally don’t want to delay starting a family, know that the insurance does not cover the cost of pregnancy – which could cost over $10,000. How will you pay? Likely by you. Alternatively, you can check your state Medicaid office to see if your state offers coverage for pregnant non-US citizens.
A final disadvantage is that these plans usually don’t cover prescription drug medication, although there are other options such as a discount prescription drug card.
Finally, your non-US citizen spouse has to go through underwriting to qualify. These plans are outside the Affordable Care Act. Underwriting consists of a questionnaire and usually not much more than that.
Having said all this, I want you to know that your non-US citizen spouse WILL receive medical care in case of the unexpected. However, there are limitations to these plans as noted above.
Now, you understand the importance of a health insurance plan before marrying a non-US citizen.
Types Of Health Insurance For Non-US Citizens
There are options for health insurance for non-US citizens. The right one depends on your situation. Know that state law governs insurance, including health. Some options may not be available in your state.
Before marrying a non-US citizen, you want to get a sense of how much you can afford. The cost ranges, but expect to pay around $500 per month depending on the age.
The first are indemnity plans. Indemnity plans are nice because they pay you the benefit (instead of the provider) directly. They pay based on a fixed fee schedule. You can decide what you want to do with the money. These plans do not coordinate with other insurance. That means you can have several indemnity plans “stacked” and receive funds from many insurances to pay for your healthcare.
Here are some types of indemnity plans. Remember these pay you the benefit (alternatively, you can assign the benefits to your doctor or provider
(1) hospital – will pay if you go into the hospital, have x-rays, outpatient surgery, etc
(2) cancer – upon diagnosis, will pay a lump sum benefit. Alternatively, some plans a smaller lump sum benefit and then pays benefits during your treatments
(3) critical illness – operates similarly to cancer indemnity plans
(4) accident – the plan will pay a benefit for accidental injuries. Moreover, the policy pays from accidental death or injuries related to an accident
Some indemnity plans require an ITIN at a minimum. If your spouse does not have an ITIN, then the indemnity plan option may not be feasible. Don’t worry; there are other options we discuss next.
Other Health Insurance Plans For Non-US Citizens
Next, we have short-term medical insurance. Short-term medical is just how it sounds. The timeframe is short-term, usually in 3 month blocks, although the new healthcare law allows short-term medical coverage for longer than 11 months in many states.
With short-term medical insurance, your non-US citizen spouse does not need a social security number or ITIN. The main requirement, other than underwriting, is that he or she remains present in the US while under the policy. Obviously, that is the case as your spouse works towards his or her green card.
Short-term medical insurance works similarly to the traditional, major medical policy you know and probably have. Many people like that aspect of it.
Again, there are limitations. These plans don’t cover preventative care, pregnancy, or prescription drugs. However, the plan does provide coverage in case of a sickness, illness diagnosis, accident, or injury.
Remember the pre-existing limitations, which are usually a 12-month look back of any treatment or diagnosis. Truthfully, we work with only one carrier in the short-term medical market. This carrier has a 12-month look back, and no coverage on the pre-existing condition on the next 12 months. After that, the condition is covered. Moreover, if you develop a health condition, many traditional short-term medical policies consider that a pre-existing condition upon your renewal. However, not the plan we work with. They will cover your condition upon renewal.
Finally, there are travel medical insurance plans available. As long as your non-US citizen spouse has a valid VISA, he or she can enroll in one.
Upon marrying a non-US citizen, you will both have peace-of-mind knowing healthcare is covered in the short-term.
I hope this article gives you a new perspective on obtaining health insurance. Before marrying a non-US citizen spouse, you need to think about a health insurance plan. You don’t want them to not have coverage as he or she works towards green card status. A green card could take 2 years or longer. Do you need assistance in locating health insurance for your non-US citizen spouse? We can help and have helped many people in similar situations. Feel free to give us a call or contact us. Or, you can use the form below. As with everything we do, we keep your best interests first and foremost. It is the only way we know how to work with our clients.