The Affordable Care Act and Temporary Foreign Workers

The new Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ‘ObamaCare’, requires that everyone in the US have minimal essential health insurance – or else pay the penalties. The consequences of not having minimal health care coverage can be extreme: fees that increase every year after 2014 plus you have to pay for all of the costs for your medical treatment – even emergency care.

It is important to understand that ACA is not government-subsidized health care like you will find in other countries, so if you have to seek medical treatment while in the U.S., the costs associated with your care will be 100% your responsibility unless you have a health insurance plan.

Under ObamaCare, foreign workers such as those carrying an H1 visa, L1 visa, etc., who are legally residing and employed in the United States are subject to the same federal health insurance rules as US citizens.

To avoid the $325 or 2% of your income penalty fee in 2015, foreign workers must be covered by one of the following:

  • Any health insurance plan in the new health insurance marketplace
  • Any qualified individual health insurance plan
  • Any employer-based health insurance plan

Each of the above qualifies as minimal necessary coverage under Affordable Care Act.

Where Temporary Foreign Workers can Buy Health Insurance

Under the new Affordable Care Act guidelines, every US employer with 50 or more full-time employees must offer a qualified health insurance plan to their full-time employees. Your employer may pay a percentage of your premium, and many do. If you work for an employer with at least 50 full-time employees on staff, you should be offered a health insurance plan that will meet the requirements minimal essential coverage.

If your employer does not employ a minimum of 50 full-time employees, and you are not offered health insurance through your employer, you must buy a qualified health insurance plan from the open health insurance marketplace.

If you are a first-time visa holder and coming to the US for a job, it’s important for you to buy a visitors health insurance plan prior to leaving your home country to cover any medical treatment you may have to receive while in the U.S. or buy a temporary health insurance before your employer-based health insurance plan is in effect. A visitors health insurance plan can cover you for this initial period until one of the following occurs:

Your employer enrolls you into the group health insurance plan (if the company qualifies), or you are able to enroll in a regular long-term health insurance plan through the insurance market

A visitors health insurance plan is the ideal way to get the necessary health insurance coverage you need while in the US until you have the opportunity to purchase an alternative plan. It’s also the ideal way to protect dependents who come to the US with you – in fact, it’s essential.

Health Insurance for Spouses and Children of Temporary Foreign Workers

The spouses and children of temporary foreign workers can seek dependent non-immigrant status in the U.S. through the U.S. consulate in their country (if they are outside the US) or through the government (if they are temporarily inside the US) on a visa.

  • If your employer does not offer a health insurance plan for you and your family, you can purchase a family health insurance plan from the new open health insurance market.
  • If your employer does offer a health insurance plan at your place of employment, you can add your spouse and children to that health insurance plan.

It’s important to remember that according to the new ACA, everyone in the U.S. must be covered by a health insurance plan or they will have to pay fees plus all the costs of their medical care if they have no coverage. Check your employment benefits plan and discuss your options with your company’s human resources department.

If you are arriving first, and your family will join you later, be sure to buy a temporary visitors insurance plan prior to their trip if they are not already covered on your employer-based health insurance plan when they cross into the U.S. When you consider that even a relatively minor accident or illness resulting in an emergency room trip can cost thousands of dollars, it makes sense to get a visitors health insurance plan to cover them until you can arrange for long-term health insurance protection.

You can compare and buy an affordable visitors health insurance policy online at : Buy Visitors Insurance.

Send your queries regarding health insurance for visa foreign worker in the US to, and we will assist you.

Additional Reading:

  1. Medical Insurance for H1 Visa Holders
  2. ObamaCare for Green Card Holders
  3. ObamaCare for Visitors to USA
  4. Basics of ObamaCare
  5. State-wise Health Insurance Marketplace

Disclaimer: Information presented here is high level and for your convenience only, it may not be accurate and may not cover all aspect of the ACA or Obama care act. The ACA law is not fully implemented yet, definitions, eligibility etc. are subjective and may vary from state to state. You may contact a qualified licensed health insurance agent in your area to discuss your specific situations and options. You may also write to us at support[at]

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