Well it is no secret that yesterday, October 1st was the final launch date for the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obama Care. No matter what your opinion is about this new change in our healthcare system it will most certainly affect everyone! For more than 28 years I have worked in the domestic health insurance markets and actually with a fair amount of clarity. But now everything has changed and my head is spinning even today after trying to follow and understand this whole thing for more than 3 years.
It became clear to me more than a year ago if I wanted to be able to still function as an agent some changes would have to happen. With more than 15+ years of experience in the International markets I decided it was time to pick a clear direction. So from now on most of my posts on this site will be directly related to International travel, expats and International travel medical information.
IRS Penalty “Shared Responsibility Payment” May Affect You
For expats who will be living outside the borders of their home country for more than 6 months you will need to pay attention to how Obama-Care may impact you and your families. As it stands right now all American’s are being compelled to purchase health insurance or face financial penalties. In fact not just any health insurance but health insurance that is considered to be ACA compliant. But what if you are living overseas?
Well as of today I am not aware of any International health insurance plans that have been given the blessings of the Health and Human Services for being ACA compliant. Not that companies aren’t seeking this approval – it just has not happened yet and may not for some time. Because of this if you are an expat living outside the borders of the United States you need to pay special attention to this. As it stands today if you are a U.S. Citizen who may spend more than 35 days per year within the borders of the U.S. you may be required to pay the IRS penalty know as the “Shared Responsibility Payment”.
So you might first want to consult with your CPA and get the most current information on how all this may affect you. For many this is not issue as they really have no reason to return home to the U.S. for more than a month. But what about those who are working overseas for a U.S. company and part of your job is to come back to the U.S. for business purposes then you may be exposed to this penalty. Some employees as part of their regular job make trips frequently and if you are in the United States for more the 35 day per year you will have to address this.
Depending on your income the penalty over the next few years will grow as the penalty gets increased year after year for the first three years. Maybe you need to negotiate this very issue into your employment contract – just a thought. But in any case if you are a U.S. Citizen you cannot ignore this penalty and at the very least make sure you have the correct information at hand to base any decisions you make.
GeoBlue Seeks HHS Approval…
GeoBlue is actively seeking clarification from the HHS. The Health and Human Services has issued clear guidelines and regulations regarding this matter. Apparently they do see the need to review International Health Insurance plans being offered today on a case by case basis but as it stands right now, no insurance carrier’s expat policies meet the threshold necessary for affected individuals that would allow them to avoid the “Shared Responsibility Payment”.
GeoBlue however is working very hard and closely with the Health and Human Services to address this issue. Geoblue has taken the position that having such extensive, core PPACA compliant benefits in their expat plans helps position them in a very positive light. And, in addition to these benefits, GeoBlue plans are filed as short-term limited duration licensed health insurance in the United States, and GeoBlue follows individual state benefit mandates which adds a significant protective layer to the insurance issuance and any claims process. All of this benefits the US consumer and further enhances their status.
The combination of all the above factors places GeoBlue in a unique position in the expat marketplace, and GeoBlue is investigating every option to assist it customers by offering the most functional expat product possible. But until the GeoBlue has their day with the HHS then people need to be aware of this potential financial hazard.