Coming to the US and settling down can be a complex process. To gain legal permanent resident (LPR) status, you must apply for a green card only if you are eligible to apply for it. Once you gain the LPR status, you can access the US healthcare system. Without a green card, you are considered a visitor in the US and do not get facilities that are meant for US nationals, citizens, and legal permanent residents.
If you are wondering whether you can get a health insurance policy from the US healthcare system before getting your green card, the answer is NO. However, if you are an immigrant with the following status, you can buy plans from healthcare.gov.
- Cuban/Haitian Entrant
- Paroled into the US.
- Conditional Entrant Granted before 1980
- Battered Spouse, Child, and Parent
- Victim of Trafficking and his/her Spouse, Child, Sibling, or Parent
- Granted Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal under the immigration laws or under the Convention against Torture (CAT)
- Individuals with Non-immigrant Status, include worker visas (such as H1, H-2A, H-2B), student visas, U-visa, T-visa, and other visas, and citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
- Deferred Action Status (Exception: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is not an eligible immigration status for applying for health insurance)
- Lawful Temporary Resident
- Administrative order staying removal issued by the Department of Homeland Security
- Member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or American Indian Born in Canada
- A resident of American Samoa
You must buy a visitor insurance plan if you do not fall into any of the above-mentioned categories. A visitor health insurance plan will give you temporary coverage during the transition period.
Why choose visitor insurance?
Visitor insurance is a short-term plan that financially protects you when you are away from your country of residence. However, if you are an immigrant, you need a robust medical insurance plan to safeguard you during any mishaps. Unfortunately, as you cannot buy domestic plans from healthcare.gov, you must buy a visitor medical insurance plan for foreigners.
Typically, these plans can cover new illnesses, sicknesses, injuries, wounds, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, accidental death & dismemberment, doctor visits, hospitalization, surgery, prescriptions & drugs, and more. As each plan varies, reviewing the brochure is recommended.
The plans do not cover birth control, cosmetic surgery, dental, elective surgery, immunizations, maintenance medication, maternity care, preventive check-ups, vision, and pre-existing conditions. However, some plans can cover the acute onset of pre-existing conditions.
You may need a visitor insurance plan for several reasons. For example:
- You can visit a doctor or urgent care within the network when sick. You show the insurance card so that the clinic can either bill the insurance company or ask you to pay for the medical services. If you pay, you can submit the bills for reimbursement.
- If there is an accident and you are severely wounded, you need to rush to a hospital. You can show your insurance ID to the receptionist, who will verify the benefits. You pay your deductible, and then the hospital directly bills the insurance company for the eligible medical expenses. In short, you receive cashless treatment.
- If you need medicines for a new illness, you can make an upfront payment at the pharmacy and submit the receipt to your insurance company to file a claim later.
- Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation plans can help you get transferred to the nearest qualified medical facility for your treatment in the event of an emergency.
- If you face a sudden, acute attack of a pre-existing condition without any warning and need immediate medical care, your insurance plan can take care of it. Each plan has its own coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions, and it is advisable to review coverage before buying the plan.
To get more relevant information on health insurance, contact NRIOL.net.