Health insurance may soon be mandatory for all US immigrants
The US’s healthcare and health insurance systems are notoriously expensive when compared to the rest of the world. For those moving to the country, the cost of doing so may increase significantly in the near future as US President Donald Trump has recently released a presidential proclamation, calling for mandatory health insurance for US immigrants, requiring all immigrants to have US health insurance within 30 days of arrival.
In this article by Pacific Prime, we will explore the controversial presidential proclamation that aims to limit legal immigrants entering the US.
Where it all started – Trump’s proclamation
On October 4, 2019, the Whitehouse released a document called the ‘Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System’.
The proclamation announced that those planning to move to the US must prove to immigration authorities that they will have US health insurance within 30 days of their arrival. The Whitehouse document then went on to make the case for what would become one of the most hotly debated healthcare and health insurance topics in the US.
The proclamation stated that uninsured immigrants entering the US often use the country’s healthcare system without being able to afford the healthcare services they receive. This mounted a financial burden of USD $35 billion on the US healthcare system each year, for the last 10 years, which is then passed on to taxpayers in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.
What’s happened since – the backlash
At the end of October, 7 US citizens and a nonprofit organization called Latino Network filed a lawsuit against the new policy. Other organizations involved in the case against this policy include the Justice Action Center, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Innovation Law Lab.
Moreover, just one day before the policy became effective, a federal judge in Oregon temporarily blocked Trump’s proclamation for 28 days, citing the potential damage the policy would inflict on would-be immigrants and their families.
The case against mandatory health insurance for US immigrants
Healthcare experts around the US have pointed out that, contrary to what the Whitehouse claims, immigrants use the US healthcare system far less often than local Americans. For example, recent immigrants living without health insurance accounted for less than one-tenth of 1% of the US’s medical expenditures, the Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, advocates criticize the policy for separating families who are immigrating to the US via family-sponsored visas. Furthermore, if this policy goes into effect, it will create a barrier of entry for poorer immigrants to the US, who may not have jobs lined-up upon arrival or may struggle to afford the US’s expensive health insurance premiums. Specifically, it could prevent 375,000 immigrants from entering the US annually, according to an estimation by the Migration Policy Institute.
How expensive is US health insurance?
The US isn’t the only country to enforce mandatory health insurance for US immigrants and expats. Other countries like Germany, Dubai, and Thailand also have mandatory health insurance schemes in place. However, what makes the US’s case different from these countries is that US health insurance policies are far more expensive than any other country in the world, presenting a real barrier of entry for prospective immigrants with a lower income base.
For instance, the average cost of private health insurance for individuals stands at USD $8,887 in the US, twice as much as in other developed countries like the UK (USD $4,487), according to Pacific Prime’s latest report titled Cost of International Health Insurance Report 2019.
In the next few years, the cost of health insurance in the US looks to get even more expensive, with average costs increasing by 5% in 2019. Our report’s analysis highlights 5 key drivers of health insurance premiums, including:
- Increased demand for international quality private care – As more people can afford quality healthcare, the increased demand will drive up prices, which are reflected in health insurance premium inflation.
- Increased cost of healthcare – The US’s aging population means more expensive treatments are required, driving up the cost of healthcare and health insurance premiums.
- Increased regulation – Growing concerns on compliance and data privacy issues in the health insurance industry leads to more protective regulatory requirements on US insurers, which in turn, increase costs and drive up premiums.
- Increased challenge with fraud regulation – Fraud accounts for 5% to 10% of claims costs for US and Canadian insurers, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, America’s anti-fraud alliance. This puts a financial strain on insurers and forces them to invest more in anti-fraud measures, contributing to the US’s rise in premium prices each year.
- The rise of insurtech – Insurance firms are investing in new insurance technology to improve their services, with almost half of all insurtech deals worldwide taking place in the US.
How will this affect you?
The most important thing to note is that there’s currently no need to panic as the proclamation is temporarily blocked and does not apply to all immigrants in the US. For this reason, how this policy affects you will depend on your current situation.
If you already have a valid immigrant visa in the US, this new proclamation will not affect you as it only targets would-be immigrants of the US who are currently still outside the country. However, this does not mean that living without health insurance in the US is safe. The healthcare costs in the country mean medical emergencies can be a serious financial challenge if you do not have a health insurance plan in place.
Other exceptions to the proclamation include:
- Children of US citizens
- Unaccompanied children
- Permanent residents who have been outside of the US for more than 1 year
- Recipients of the ‘special immigrant visas’, such as Afghans and Iraqis who have aided the US government and their families
If you are currently living outside the US, and are looking to move to the country for work or to reunite with your family, this potential mandatory health insurance for US immigrants can present a significant hurdle you’ll have to overcome. Hence, finding yourself the most affordable health insurance plan in the US is both a challenging and crucial task if you are a prospective immigrant.
To find the most affordable and cost-effective health insurance in the US, you can contact health insurance brokers like Pacific Prime. Our price comparison technology will be able to help you find the best individual health insurance plan that fits your budget. If you are traveling to the US with your family, we also have expat family health insurance, maternity health insurance for expat families, and pre-existing condition insurance plans available.
In his free time, Phuwit enjoys reading and playing badminton. He also loves a good cup of coffee.
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