The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. to temporary foreign workers. It allows foreign workers to live and work in the U.S. for a sponsoring employer. Until the worker is established with their sponsoring employer and qualifies to buy healthcare from the health insurance marketplace in the U.S., they are at risk for any medical emergencies, doctors visits, hospital stays, and more. Essentially, the H-1B visa gives the worker the right to enter the country and begin work but it does not give that worker health insurance.
Medical care in the United States is extremely expensive and it can be very stressful and scary not to have coverage. If you are in a car accident, trip and fall, or cut your hand, a trip to the emergency room can result in many thousands of dollars - dollars you will have to pay without proper health insurance. Buying a travel health insurance plan is essential to protect yourself if you don't want to start your stay in America under a mountain of debt and risk your sponsorship.
H-1B Visa Holders Must Buy Travel Health Insurance
Temporary foreign workers holding an H-1B visa should buy a temporary health insurance plan to cover not only the trip to the U.S. but also the amount of time it takes to get established and qualify to buy health insurance from the U.S. marketplace.
Here are a few things you may not know:
- Many U.S. employers ask their employees to work through a waiting period before they qualify for health insurance, so you'll need travel medical insurance for that period.
- If your employer is a a small business, they may not offer health insurance as a benefit so you will have to research and buy your health insurance on your own.
- Your employer may cover your health insurance (after a waiting period), but may not cover your spouse or children. You may find a better price for healthcare in the marketplace for your family.
While H-1B visa holders will qualify to purchase their own health insurance from the U.S. based healthcare marketplace, you will want some time to research plans and get started with your job before plunging into the world of American health insurance.
Healthcare in the U.S. is Not Free
As an H-1B visa holder, it's important to understand that no health-care in the U.S. is free and any lapse in your health insurance coverage can cost you. Time between jobs must be covered too because any lapse in health insurance coverage can be an expensive mistake.
Even when your employer provides health insurance for you, it is likely that you will be paying some or all of the cost. That cost is automatically deducted from your paycheck.
In some cases, you may find that buying healthcare from the health insurance marketplace gives you better coverage at a better price. In any case, you cannot expect your employer or the government to pay for any medical treatment you receive in the U.S.
Your Health Insurance Does Not Cover Visiting Family
There is no free healthcare in the U.S. If your family visits you in the United States, it is important to ensure that they have visitors insurance too. Your employer-based health insurance plan may cover your spouse and dependent children, but it will not cover your parents, cousins, aunts, uncles or any other family members.
Even if your family members are living with you - and thus 'dependent' on you - they do not qualify under your employer's health insurance plan. They must have a visitors health insurance plan to cover the entire time they are in the U.S. or face the risk of having a medical incident bankrupt the entire family. Learn more: Medical insurance for H4 Visa holders
If you are visiting the U.S. - for a job interview, for a job, or simply to tour the country - you must buy a travel health insurance plan that covers the entire time you will be in the U.S. Many plans that are purchased for trips over 30 days can be renewed, so be sure you have the right coverage for as long as you will need it.
Benefits of Buying H-1B Visa Health Insurance Online
The benefits of buying your H-1B visa health insurance online are:
- You can get quotes and research plans
- You can review the description of coverage and choose the right plan
- You can pay for it online and print a confirmation to take with you
While having travel health insurance is not (yet) a requirement to obtain an H-1B visa, any temporary worker that gets off the plane without it is taking an enormous risk.
Cost for an H-1B Visa Insurance Plan
The cost of an H-1B visa health insurance plan depends on many factors, including your age, your residence, the length of your coverage, your medical history, and the benefits you choose. You may also be eligible to buy Short-Term Health Insurance plans who may not eligible for domestic health insurance under Affordable Care Act (ACA) or missed the deadline for ObamaCare.
Best Travel Insurance Plans for H1-B Visa Holders
Liaison Travel ChoiceLearn More Plan Highlights
Comprehensive Coverage Plan
• Rated "A" Plan
• 90%-100% Coverage
• PPO Network
• Emergency Room & Urgent Care Coverage
• Renewable and Cancellable
• Coverage during international travel
• Up to $30,000 coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions
Inbound USA ChoiceLearn More Plan Highlights
Limited Coverage Plan
• Plan pays fixed amount per incident up to policy maximum
• Basic coverage, low cost, less benefits
• Coverage from 5 to 365 days
• Renewable and Cancellable
• No PPO network. You can visit any doctor of your choice
Disclaimer: The information represented on this page is provided by VisitorsCoverage Inc., a US-based licensed insurance service provider.