Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I am NOT from the Government. I Might Be Able to Help You

What Does Obamacare Mean For Someone Living Abroad?

Hold me Teddy!
Writing from my undisclosed location (if by undisclosed, you mean 1 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana  USA), the issue of what coming US changes mean to expats comes up a lot from both our agents and our clients.  Good question.  It's one which still lies mostly dormant.  I won't begin to speculate on the films I've seen about creatures who awaken and what lies in wait for their victims.  It's not because I'm reluctant to take a firm stand.  It's because those movies are scary and I squeezed the stuffing out of my teddy bear.  What we do know is that we don't know a lot about what we don't know.  Don't you know that we've got a list of known unknowns about which no one knows? Now you know.  Okay, first we don't know exactly the 'when' all this is going to take place.  Recently there's been a decision that there's no decision for how this is going to affect those on employer paid group benefit plans as expats.  At least not until the year 2015 that is.  After this, well you guessed it.  Nobody knows.  As for the 'how'...um...see above. So, now what do we do now that we know what we don't know?  I know, I know, you wanna know.  Enough already!  Potential welcome news may come when you come back home.  Right now, if you're on a group medical plan and you are insured, you simply contact your insurer and ask for a 'CCC' (there I turned you on to some arcane insurance shorthand, who's sexy now? That's right - this guy!).  This stands for Certificate of Creditable Coverage (we're darn clever in the insurance business) and only has meaning if you are either transferring from your international group medical plan or happen to want to attract every member of the opposite sex in a two block area.  Like flies to honey, I'm telling you...uh, not so much really.  Do flies even like honey?  There goes that ADD thing again.  Anyway, existing US based group benefit plans have to follow HIPAA (no, not Pippa she's the sister-in-law to the English guy that refuses to return my calls) and allow an existing insured member coming back to the US from an expat plan to move on to the US domestic group benefit plan without worrying about losing coverage for existing medical conditions.  If you are on an individual expatriate medical plan, the group medical rules really don't apply (although insurers will usually accept a CCC anyway). Now, with the advent of Obamacare, even that may not be necessary, since reports are that pre-existing conditions won't be disallowed when the whole driver-less rickshaw gets rolling in October.  Now for the potential bad news.  Rates are going up and higher than Lindsay Lohan fresh off of probation.  Me?  I'm going back in my bunker.

PS. Insurance is the Brussels sprout of subjects.  You know you need to understand it for your own good and I'll work to make it palatable (if it doesn't work, feed me to the dog under the table).  So, if you enjoy learning a little more about it in an (occasionally) entertaining way, then someone else might too.  Share the love via social media or get on the subscriber list.  After all - Don't cost nuttin' 

PPS. Living or traveling internationally now or soon?  Contact your insurance agent and demand to see what Azimuth Risk Solutions can do for you.  Or, visit www.AzimuthRisk.com to learn more