Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From the mailbag: MassTravelers

"My husband and I are residents of Massachusetts. We will be quitting our jobs and traveling outside the country for several months. I hadn't planned on using COBRA since we will be out of the country and using travel insurance that covers other medically and otherwise. I am concerned about being fined for this. Is there a way to avoid fees if we can prove we are out of the country?"

This is a great question, with ramifications beyond Massachusetts. ObamaCare©'s (evil) mandate will have the same effect, and will of course affect Americans in the other 56 states, as well. It does seem unfair to require someone who's out of the country for an extended period to purchase insurance they probably won't need.

I contacted the Bay State's Department of Insurance, and was told that, if one is uninsured for less than 90 days, then it's not an issue or a problem. If it's more than 90 days (and it appears that this reader will, in fact, be gone longer than 3 months) then the fine is assessed. However: there's an exemption for folks who were uninsured because they were out of the country (such as our reader). These folks would have to file a special appeals form, but I was assured that this is not a big deal and that the fine would be waived.

The email continues:

"Also, when we return what is our best option for becoming insured if we do not become re-employed full time right away?"

I replied that, once they're back stateside, they can go online to the MassCare Connector to find coverage. Of course, the challenge there will be finding a plan that fits the budget and coverage goals, but is apparently the only real option left to Bay Staters in need of individual coverage.

That deals with the MassCare issue, but not the ReaderCare one. As Bob points out:

"Leaving the country with coverage allows you to have benefits around the world. Even if she is not traveling to a Schengen Convention country, at the very least she needs an international travel policy to supplement the back home stuff. If she relies on something like IMG alone she is exposing herself to some serious potential out-of-pocket.

Seems to me like she is willing to roll the dice and assume she won't need the US based coverage while out of country and assumes she can pick back up where she left off when she returns. Romneycare does not have waiting periods but it doesn't mean she won't come back and be able to get immediate coverage

Something to consider.
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