If you have an H1B visa, and want to bring your dependent family members (spouse and/or children under 21) to visit you or live with you in the US, they will need an H4 visa.
However, before your family comes to the US, you should make sure they will have proper health insurance. Getting health insurance for H4 visa holders will help in managing the costs of health care if someone gets ill or in an accident.
Do H4 Visa Holders Need Health Insurance?
Even though it may not always be required by law, it is always advisable for all US residents to have health insurance, even H4 visa holders.
The rules regarding health insurance in the US are sometimes confusing, even for US citizens themselves. It is no longer required by federal law for US citizens or residents to have health insurance but the requirements can sometimes change from one state to the other.
However, even if it is not mandatory, most US residents have health insurance anyway, simply because the cost of health care in the US is very high, and people with an average income cannot afford it if they have to pay out of pocket.
Types of Health Insurance Plans Available for H4 Visa Holders
Similar to health insurance for H1B visa holders, holders of H4 visas can also get the two following types of health insurance:
- Long-term (domestic)
Short-Term H4 Visa Health Insurance
If your spouse and/or children are only coming to visit you in the US for a short period of time, then they do not need long-term or domestic health insurance. Instead, you can purchase visitor health insurance for them.
If your family members will be staying long-term, you should still purchase short-term or visitor’s health insurance for them so they are covered for the beginning of the trip (the time it takes you to include them on your own plan).
Where can I get short-term H4 visa health insurance?
You can get short-term health insurance from private health insurance companies in the US.
Comparison marketplaces like Insubuy have different types of health insurance plans listed, making it possible for you to read each policy carefully before settling on the one which best suits the needs of your family members.
Carefully reading and comparing different health insurance policies is very important they do not all offer the same amount or type coverage. So, it goes without saying that plans with better and longer coverage will cost more.
Don’t choose the cheapest plan you can find, because they usually cover only a small portion of your medical bills. So, let’s say your H4 visa health insurance policy will cover $5,000 per accident/illness, but you have a $30,000 medical bill, which means you will have to pay over $20,000 yourself.
Long-Term H4 Visa Health Insurance
If your dependents intend to stay in the US with you for a longer period of time, then you can add them to your own health insurance policy.
- Health insurance from your employer. If you have health insurance from your employer, find out whether you can add your dependents to your existing plan.
- Purchase health insurance yourself from the Marketplace. If your employer does not offer health insurance, or you are not allowed to include dependents, then you can buy your own domestic health insurance from the Marketplace (healthcare.gov).
If you and your family members do not want to purchase long term/domestic insurance, then you can choose to have short-term health insurance from a private company (even if the H4 visa holders are staying long-term).
This plan will be cheaper, but for this reason, it will also cover far less than domestic health insurance plans do.
In addition, if you choose to get short-term H4 health insurance, you will have to pay a fine when you file taxes, amounting to 2% of your annual income or $325 per person per year.
What Does H4 Visa Health Insurance Cover?
All H4 visa health insurance plans in the US offer medical coverage for the following:
- Doctor’s visit
- Hospitalization (the cost of the hospital room)
- The cost of prescription drugs and medicine
- Surgical procedures
- Emergency services, such as the ambulance and ER
- The cost of lab tests and X-rays
- Physical therapy
If the H4 visa holders are insured under a domestic ACA-compliant health insurance program, then the coverage of the health insurance policy will be more extensive. That is because the policy has to abide by the standards set from the Affordable Care Act, and will include things such as dental coverage, maternity coverage, and coverage for pre-existing conditions, in addition to the medical procedures listed above. This type of coverage is more expensive.
If the H4 visa holder has short-term health insurance from a private company, they will most likely not have insurance for pre-existing conditions or maternity. That is because short-term health insurance policies do not need to abide by the standards set from the Affordable Care Act. Short-term health insurance is cheaper.