Health Insurance for H1 Visa Holders

Health Insurance for H1 Visa Holders

Coming to the United States to work under the H1 visa program is an exciting venture. However, one crucial thing not to overlook is health insurance coverage while you’re in the U.S.

In the United States, medical costs are some of the highest in the world. A multi-day stay in the hospital can quickly rack up tens of thousands of dollars in fees. This is why having adequate medical coverage for your entire time in the U.S. is so important.

While those on an H1B visa may have the opportunity to have medical coverage under their employer, there may be a time between when you enter the U.S. and when your insurance is active that you’ll be uninsured without a temporary solution.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about health insurance for H1B visa holders, including available options and eligibility.

Is Health Insurance for H1B Visa Holders Required?

Whether or not you are required to have health insurance in the United States as an H1B visa holder will depend upon your status as a resident alien. Non-resident aliens are not required to have ACA compliant health insurance, however once you become a resident alien, you are required. This situation can come into play if you are a former student visa holder who has transitioned into an H1B visa status after finding employment.

However, a requirement for health insurance shouldn’t determine whether you secure coverage. Any temporary visitor to the United States is highly urged to purchase a temporary health insurance plan as protection against the huge financial burden that medical expenses in the U.S. can bring.

Why H1B Visa Holders May Need Temporary Health Insurance

If you are an H1B visa holder who has just recently arrived or is planning to arrive soon in the United States, chances are that there may be a short period of time after you arrive where you won’t have a long-term health insurance plan figured out.

During the time it takes you to qualify to buy a health insurance plan from the U.S. marketplace or receive coverage from your employer, it’s important to purchase a short-term visitors insurance plan that can offer adequate coverage for you while you set up a more long-term solution.

Many U.S. employers require an employee to work through a “probationary period” until they are able to qualify for health insurance. Visitors insurance can cover you during that period.

Types of Health Insurance for H1 Visa Holders

Health insurance is a vital safeguard for unexpected medical expenses while in the United States. Here’s everything you need to know about the types of medical insurance plans you can consider during your H1B status.

Domestic Health Insurance

For H1 visa holders who are working in the United States for a long period of time, you’ll want to get a domestic health insurance plan. Oftentimes, these insurance plans are company-sponsored by your employer, but can also be purchased from a state marketplace or a private health insurance provider.

Domestic Health Insurance Purpose and Coverage:

  • Extended coverage for ongoing healthcare needs
  • Comprehensive coverage for preventive care, prescriptions, and specialist visits
  • Higher premiums but broader coverage for long-term healthcare needs

Get more information on the differences between domestic insurance vs. visitors insurance.

Employer-Sponsored Plans

Most H1 visa holders receive health insurance through their employers. These plans typically cover the visa holder and may also have options available to include dependents. If dependent coverage is not an option, you may have to find an alternative healthcare insurance provider through the U.S. marketplace for your family.

Individual Plans

If your employer doesn't provide health insurance or if you're self-employed, you can explore individual health insurance plans from the U.S. marketplace. Choosing independently can give you flexibility in coverage and price, although it does require you to pay for the plan yourself.

Visitors Insurance as a Short-term Solution

As you wait to become eligible for your employer-sponsored health insurance plan or if you need more time to find an individual plan that works for you, short-term U.S. visitors insurance is an excellent solution to cover you during this transition period.

Visitors Insurance Purpose and Coverage:  

  • Short-term medical coverage for temporary stays/periods of time 
  • Coverage for emergency medical situations for new and unexpected injuries or illnesses
  • Affordable one-time premiums for short durations

Choosing the Right H1 Visa Health Insurance Plan

When choosing a health insurance plan as an H1 visa holder, there are a few factors to consider to ensure that you and your family have adequate coverage in the U.S. Look for benefits surrounding hospitalization, outpatient services, routine services, pre-existing conditions, medications, and more.

Network Coverage

Check the network of healthcare providers associated with the insurance plan. Opting for in-network services can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs. Ensure that essential medical facilities and specialists are included in the network and that in-network providers are in close proximity to your location.

Cost and Deductibles

Evaluate the total cost of the insurance, including premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. While a lower premium may seem appealing, this may lead to more out-of-pocket expenses. You want a health insurance plan that you can afford but that also offers the protection you need.

Policy Maximums

Policy maximums are important because it represents the maximum amount that your insurance will cover you for a specific period. Policy maximums will affect the premium of your plan, however, a higher policy maximum is typically recommended in the U.S. since healthcare costs are so extreme.

Insurance for Dependents of H1 Visa Holders

U.S. visa holders who are dependents of a primary visa holder may qualify for visitors insurance policies. It depends on if they're making a short visit to the U.S., entering the country for the first time, or planning a long-term stay.

Short-term Visits: Visitors Insurance for Dependents

Visitors insurance may be suitable for dependents making short visits to the U.S., or until they are able to secure a more long-term solution while waiting to become eligible under the primary visa holder’s insurance or before purchasing a plan individually if they are remaining in the U.S. for the same duration as the H1 visa holder.

Long-term Stay: Domestic Insurance for Dependents

If the dependents plan to stay in the U.S. on a long-term basis, they should consider enrolling into a standard, long-term, domestic health insurance policy. They can either add themselves onto the primary insurance holder's insurance policy or buy a separate individual and family health insurance policy from a private insurer.

Employer-Sponsored Insurance for Dependents

If the primary insurance holder has health benefits through an employer, they should find out how to add dependents to the policy. Depending on the employer's policies, the primary visa holder may be responsible for their family members' insurance premiums.

Being in the U.S. for any amount of time without medical coverage is risky. Secure a visitors insurance plan to cover you for any time where you are waiting for a more long-term solution to protect yourself financially in the event of a medical emergency.

Navigating health insurance options as an H1 visa holder or dependent requires careful consideration. If you have questions or need additional assistance, our Customer Success Team is happy to help.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can H1 visa holders get health insurance?

Yes, H1 visa holders are eligible for health insurance. Options include visitors insurance for short-term stays or long-term domestic insurance for extended periods.


What's the difference between visitors insurance and long-term domestic insurance?

Visitors insurance is temporary and suited for short stays in the U.S., while long-term domestic insurance offers broader coverage for extended periods. Visitors insurance only requires a one-time premium payment while long-term insurance typically requires monthly fees.


How do I find the best insurance for my work trip?

Typically, employers will either provide you with insurance or you can purchase a short-term business travel insurance plan.


Can dependents of H1 visa holders get health insurance?

Yes, dependents can qualify for visitors insurance for short visits or enroll in long-term domestic health insurance for extended stays.


How can dependents be added to the primary insurance holder's policy?

If the primary insurance holder has employer-sponsored insurance, dependents may be added per the employer's policies. Alternatively, they can purchase separate coverage from private insurers.