Benefits experts add new products to combat rising US healthcare costs
Individuals in the UK observing the ongoing US healthcare saga will no doubt be feeling increasingly grateful to have access to the National Health Service (NHS).
It is well documented that healthcare treatment in the US is by far the most expensive in the world and there is no “free at the point of use” option for residents. Sourcing a suitable health insurance policy is therefore vital to all individuals residing in the US, however it is becoming an increasingly complex market to navigate – and an important issue for businesses with expat employees who reside there.
In 2010 the then-President Barack Obama successfully enacted the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, with the objective of transforming the US health insurance market and reducing the rate of uninsured residents. Provisions included guaranteed pre-existing condition coverage for individuals and subsidies for lower earners. Individuals without employer-paid cover were also mandated to source minimum essential coverage to avoid a financial penalty – subject to a few objections.
Despite the reduction in uninsured US residents over the last few years, President Trump promptly declared his intent to repeal the Act after his inauguration. After an initial failure, the House of Representatives passed a new healthcare bill in May 2017 moving the President a step closer to implementing his version of the legislation; “Trumpcare” or the American Health Care Act.
Some concerning aspects of the new act have been highlighted including cuts to health insurance support for the poor (Medicaid), allowing states to waive minimum benefit level requirements and granting insurers flexibility to charge new customers with pre-existing conditions higher premiums. Unsurprising the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that if the initial version of “Trumpcare” was enforced it would lead to over 24 million more uninsured Americans by 2026 than the current healthcare act.
Whichever healthcare Act we look at, the point remains that treatment costs in the US are comfortably the highest in the world by far – therefore sourcing a suitable health insurance policy is vital. Previously, options for foreign nationals in the US with a green card looking to source compliant healthcare cover have been limited, especially if their employer didn’t provide appropriate corporate cover.
In response to this, Cigna has just launched their new ACA Global Health Plan which we have made available to Jelf clients. It is the first individual global healthcare plan in the UK market designed specifically to meet the minimum essential coverage requirements of the PPACA.
The plan is available to foreign nationals who have relocated to the US and obtained a green card or US citizens relocating abroad and retaining their green card.
In addition to meeting PPACA requirements, the Cigna ACA Global Health Plan offers comprehensive cover and a seamless application with auto acceptance and medical history disregarded as standard. Other benefits of the plan include:
- Meets and exceeds the minimum essential coverage requirements of the PPACA so that clients will not be liable for an individual shared responsibility payment for each month that the policy is in force when living in the US,
- Worldwide medical coverage,
- Additional optional benefits to help build a plan that suits the client’s needs and budget,
- A range of cost share options to suit the client’s budget,
- Preventative care benefits for the client and their family with no cost share,
- No need to purchase the plan during the open enrolment period in the USA,
- Cigna’s Global Health Assist service, giving the client access to a dedicated team of doctors and nurses when they need them, and
- Continuity of cover. If the client no longer requires a minimum essential coverage plan, e.g. they move to another country, Cigna can transition them to another plan that is appropriate for them and their family (terms apply, including medical underwriting).
David Hilton, Senior International Account Manager at Jelf, says:
“Health insurance in the US is vital and we’re thrilled to be able to offer this innovative new plan to our clients and offer a new solution in this increasingly complex market.” He continues, “Supporting clients who have obtained residency status in the US has previously been difficult. Through Cigna, a global health service leader, we are delighted to be able to offer a robust solution. We’re excited to have been chosen by Cigna as one of their partners; this will only further cement our relationship and strengthen our international benefits proposition.”