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Health Insurance for Immigrants

Health Insurance for Immigrants

Old Jul 13th 2001, 6:24 pm
  #1  
Mikro
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Dear all,

Just curious what the common experience has been regarding health insurance for
recent immigrants.

I do understand that many end up on employer-sponsored plans as spouses or employees.

But I am mostly curious about what insurance companies want to see in terms of
medical history / previous coverage and how they respond to foreign documents of this
sort. I am also curious if - as in the case of car insurance - that the insurance
companies try to limit coverage / raise rates to compensate for "perceived" risk of a
person without a US (driving) "history".

Regards,

Mike
 
Old Jul 13th 2001, 6:42 pm
  #2  
Andy Platt
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A lot of this varies completely by insurance company so all I can give is my
experience - others will differ.

a) My medical insurance (provided by my company): I've never had to give any details
of my medical history to the insurers. Since I have never been to see a doctor
here I've never had to give that either although I know I will get a big long form
when I go to a doc. (my dentist did). BTW, the biggest sticking point with
insurance companies seems to be the need for a social security number - not having
one immediately triggers "why" which can open up other questions they wouldn't
have asked otherwise.

b) Car insurance: This one was bizarre and still annoys me. I'm on my wife's policy
(she was just my girlfriend when I went on her policy). Because of her record, it
was a joint policy, multi-car discounts, etc. it was a pretty good rate. There
didn't seem to be any problem with me not having had US insurance before until ...
I turned 30! Suddenly, I was no longer classed as a young single male - I was an
over 30 single male. You would think the premium would go down wouldn't you?
Everyone else except my insurers who, having moved me off the young single male
driver risk category, put me on the "less than three years driving experience
category".

You can imagine the phone call to the hassled representative. Some of the choice
interactions:

ba: So you're telling me because I'm 30 my rates have actually gone up (must be the
only person in the World). Her: No sir, I'm telling you that because you are 30
you are in a different category
bb: Oh, so my rate hasn't gone up? Her: No it has
bc: Why? Her: Because you're 30
bd: So you are telling me because I turned 30 my rates went up.

and

Her: It's because you're an inexperienced driver
be: Well, I've driven accident free for 13 years so if that's your definition of
inexperienced I guess you must be right

Needless to say they eventually found a way around this and the rates came down below
what they had been.

Other insurance companies would have taken my UK record into account but, as I said,
it was easier to go on my girlfriend's insurance.

Andy.

--
I'm not really here - it's just your warped imagination.

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Old Jul 13th 2001, 9:06 pm
  #3  
Sweatpea
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Hi Mike,

At my place of employment, I was not able to add my fiance onto my health insurance
until we were married (not even on the first day of the month inwhich the wedding
would take place... he could be added *the day of the wedding* - paperwork is dated
to be effective as of that day). I also inquired of my employer (while my fiance was
still in his home country) as to whether or not we would need to provide proof of
previous insurance (like a letter from his old health insurance company) I know I
have always had to do that with employers in the past in the US. This is the response
I received:

"Regarding HIPPA portability - Unfortunately, foreign countries are not considered
creditable coverage which means any pre-existing conditions would not be covered for
a year. Therefore, no documentation regarding prior coverage would be necessary.
However, the insurance company does need a copy of his social security # if he has
one. If not, they need a copy of immigration documentation."

We ended up purchasing a health insurance policy from an insurance company in his
native country that would cover him from his date of entry into the US on the K-1
visa until the date of our marriage... about 6 weeks. It was pretty expensive, but we
didn't want to risk him not having coverage. I had called some of the larger health
insurance companies in the US and was told by all that I contacted that either they
"don't insure immigrants" or that he had to live in the US a year before they
could/would offer coverage.

Of course, this was just the experience we had.

Good luck!

-Sweetpea

*****************

[usenetquote2]> > Dear all,[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > Just curious what the common experience has been regarding health[/usenetquote2]
    >
[usenetquote2]> > for recent immigrants.[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > I do understand that many end up on employer-sponsored plans as spouses or[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > employees.[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > But I am mostly curious about what insurance companies want to see in[/usenetquote2]
    >
[usenetquote2]> > of medical history / previous coverage and how they respond to foreign documents[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > of this sort. I am also curious if - as in the case of car insurance - that the[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > insurance companies try to limit coverage / raise[/usenetquote2]
    >
[usenetquote2]> > to compensate for "perceived" risk of a person without a US (driving) "history".[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > Regards,[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> > Mike[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
[usenetquote2]> >[/usenetquote2]
 
Old Jul 14th 2001, 12:43 am
  #4  
Michael D. Young
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Sweatpea wrote:

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Hi All!

While this is not about health insurance specifically, it something that might effect
some of you someday.

GN 01703.500 Totalization and HI/SMI Entitlement

A. POLICY

1. RSDI Beneficiary

Section 233 of the Act prohibits the use of foreign coverage to establish entitlement
to free HI (Medicare Part A). Therefore, in most cases a retirement or survivor
beneficiary who would be eligible for free HI (Medicare Part A) based on eligibility
for regular RSI benefits will not be eligible for free HI if insured status is met
based only on the inclusion of foreign periods of coverage.

Similarly, there is no free HI entitlement after 24 months of totalization disability
entitlement. Also, there is no premium HI eligibility for totalization disability
beneficiaries since a person must be 65 years old and entitled to SMI (Medicare Part
B) to qualify for premium HI.

Many totalization beneficiaries can have HI coverage only if they meet the U.S.
residence and U.S. citizenship or lawfully admitted alien requirements which are
contained in HI 00805.005.

If a worker becomes insured based on U.S. work credits only, free HI entitlement for
the worker and any auxiliaries begins:

-- At age 65 or the first month after age 65 that the worker is insured based on U.S.
work credits only for retirement benefits, or

-- At 24 months of entitlement to disability or the first month after 24 months that
the worker is insured based on U.S.work credits only.

2. Childhood

If a parent is entitled to totalization benefits, a Childhood Disability Benefits
(CDB) is not eligible for HI or SMI after 24 months of entitlement. However, if
a parent of a CDB becomes entitled to a nontotalization benefit, the CDB
will become entitled to HI (and SMI, if applicable) effective with the
24th month after the month the parent acquires insured status based only
on U.S. coverage.

OK what all this means in English is that Social Security has agreements with
countries that allow you to use your work credits from those countries to be
eligibility for Social Security benefits, but if you are eligible based on those
foreign credits, you can't use those for Medicare eligibility.

You can find the agreements on the Social Security Website at:

http://www.ssa.gov/international/inter_intro.html

Take care,

Mike
 
Old Jul 14th 2001, 1:54 am
  #5  
Lindberg
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    >
my
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security number - not having one immediately triggers "why" which can open
    >
    >

Yes, it does vary. Our experience was incredibly smooth. We were married in Sweden
and did a DCF, and as soon as I returned to the US, I added him to my health care
policy. My employer's rules say a spouse must be added within 30 days of the
marriage, or I'd have to wait until the next open enrollment period to add him -- in
our case, that would be nearly a year away. Although technically he wasn't actually
living with me yet (or even in the US for that matter), I was able to add him to my
policy with no questions, no evidence of pre-existing conditions, and also no SSN! I
just left it blank, and was never questioned on it.

I should also note that I am a government employee, and perhaps government policies
are less strict than some private employers'.

Car insurance we haven't done yet. He was not licensed in Sweden, so he only has a
learner's permit and is slowly learning to drive, but there's no rush. I know the
costs will be outrageous once I finally do add him to my policy, but I don't
anticipate any problems. I use the same insurer for home owner's insurance, and since
we recently refinanced the house and added him to the title, he's now on that policy.

Linda
 
Old Jul 16th 2001, 2:05 am
  #6  
geodesia
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No luck with health insurance here. I don't have coverage through my job so I have an
expensive private policy through Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Texas. When I tried to add
my new spouse they declined, citing for a reason that he hadn't been in the country
for two years. On the application they asked if he was a citizen or permanent
resident and I answered no, but that we had filed for permanent resident status....so
I don't know if they are declining because he doesn't yet have the official status,
or if there really is a two year requirement across the board. They 're a lot harsher
with rules for private insurance than employer-sponsored policies.

Car insurance was no problem though, no extra questions asked.

geodesia
 
Old Jul 17th 2001, 5:02 pm
  #7  
MoonRose13
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Dear Geodesia,

<< No luck with health insurance here. I don't have coverage through my job so I have
an expensive private policy through Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Texas. When I tried to
add my new spouse they declined, citing for a reason that he hadn't been in the
country for two years. On the application they asked if he was a citizen or permanent
resident and I answered no, but that we had filed for permanent resident status....so
I don't know if they are declining because he doesn't yet have the official status,
or if there really is a two year requirement across the board. They 're a lot harsher
with rules for private insurance than employer-sponsored policies. >>

Even Americans who were born here have problems affording good health insurance. Both
my husband and I are self-employed so that makes it even more difficult. HMOS are out
with us. Too many reasons to post here. We thought about Blue Cross. My husband has
only been here for a year-and-a-half. Blue Cross was willing to accept him. I don't
know why Blue Cross denied your husband on the basis of how long he had been in this
country. We chose not to go with Blue Cross, because we heard from several sources
that it only pays about 50% of your medical costs.

Love and Blessed Be, Theresa
 
Old Jul 17th 2001, 6:18 pm
  #8  
StHansard
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You might have some better luck checking out healthinsurance.com.

I would not try Blue Cross..I have had problems with them in the past.

I have Aetna through work and they are really good!
 
Old Jul 22nd 2001, 8:03 pm
  #9  
Lev Weinstock
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Hi,

When I came (on a tourist visa) I just was covered with a travel insurance. After I
got married, I go under my wife's policy. (she does not have an insurance from work).
That seems the easiest solution (I am self-employed). I did ask around and it was
harder (though not necessarily impossible) for me to get an insurance directly.

I am surprised about somebody mentionning two years needed. Only some policies
either ask you to get a paper from your previous insurance (stating in essence that
you did not need major medical cost in the past) OR may only offer you limited
coverage for x months.

Ironically when going back to my home country a few years ago I had the same problem
of facing a hard time getting under one insurance without sufficient recent record in
the country.
 
Old Jul 26th 2001, 1:31 pm
  #10  
Nopost
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When I first arrived, an extra 'point' was added to the auto insurance because I had
had an International Drivers License within the last 5 years! I argued long and hard
over that bit of stupidity.

Health Insurance has been one of my major complaints and bitches over the last
few years.

First I got a perm job and was covered. I left this company and went back to
contracting. This meant a move out of the horrible South American Country called
Miami. We went from FL to MI. Only my wife was pregnant. Avmed only covered FL. They
would not cover us if we left FL. No one in MI would cover us because my wife was
pregnant. In the end we had a home birth with a midwife.. best thing we ever did..

Once Yvonne had the baby, we got covered under Blue Cross of MI. Baby went on
immediately with 'Well Baby' coverage. Good coverage with a decent price. All was
well in the world.....

Then, we moved to VA which was always our final destination...

NO ONE.. and I mean, NO ONE would cover us. Despite having no claims in the last 10
years, no medical problems and answering 'no' to all medical issues we were denied
because of our weight. Both of us are under 300lbs which although is over weight, we
are still pretty fit and active. Even Blue Cross in VA would not touch us, despite us
being with their 'sister' company for the last 18 months.

In the end we had no choice but to accept the worse policy going for the highest
price possible. I think by law Blue Cross has to offer this policy to ensure that
there is 'something' available for the uninsurable. I personally never thought I
would fall into this category.

It certainly dwarf's the 50 pounds I used to pay Bupa in the UK!

Duncan.


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