I am an American expat who has lived in New Zealand for 8 years. I am looking for a job in the USA, but will only be willing to work there if I will be guaranteed pre-existing condition coverage.

I will be applying to positions all over the country. As my question is not region-specific, I cannot simply ask a regional broker.

I am concerned about this because I had a near-miss when visiting the USA in July. I had to go to the ER twice and my travel insurance almost didn’t cover me – this would have cost me at least $10k. I got lucky due to a technicality.

So basically, my question is, if I move to the US, am I immediately covered as soon as I get American insurance?


When you return to the US as an expat you can either enroll in a health plan through the Marketplace via special enrollment, or if applicable take employer coverage. Employer coverage may have up to a 90 day waiting period for new hires, so you may want to get Marketplace coverage in the meantime if this is the case. You can only get cost assistance if you project to make between 100% - 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, so keep that in mind. Since you are a US resident you may also have Medicaid options if your income is lower.

Whatever you do, you'll want to make sure you enroll in coverage at least 15 to 30 days before you move so your coverage can start on or close to your arrival date.

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Sandy H on

Answer Rating:

Thank you! I was having trouble finding any answers anywhere. Would it be a problem if I applied outside the special enrollment period?

ObamaCareFacts.com on

Answer Rating:

Moving back to the US automatically triggers a Special Enrollment Period. So that part is automatic. If it’s during Open Enrollment then Special Enrollment is sort of ancillary since anyone can enroll during open enrollment. Check for open enrollment 2016 extensions as we get closer, but should be from October 1st, 2015 – December 15th, 2015.

Anne on

Answer Rating:

You won’t be able to enroll through the healthcare.gov website when you move back to the US since it only allows US zip codes for your previous address. Apparently the government doesn’t consider that there are plenty of Americans who live abroad and may be moving back!

ObamaCareFacts.com on

Good find, this seems like there should be a workaround. We would suggest calling Healthcare.Gov in this instance and asking them for assistance filling out that part of the application.

mochatea on

I have just been trying to work my way through this. I was laid off from my foreign employment and had to return suddenly. Could not find clear information about this situation anywhere. Tried applying as special enrollment period. (I am CoveredCA).
Even though I am unemployed now, I got denied for Medical through their system saying I made too much for the year. (14000 for all of 2016 is too much??) .. They said I was pending to find out if I could get a obamacare plan through the marketplace. Have still not heard anything and my account has just been “pending” for two months now. But given my income is now zero, would I even qualify?? Makes no sense. Still some kinks in the system. Now we’re in open enrollment. So do I reapply and hope for the best?? Anyway, yes, we’re supposed to have a special enrollment period, but actually getting through the system has proved impossible.

Danielle Sumerlin on

I am trying to apply to Medicaid in Colorado before I move home from living in China. However, they told me I cannot apply until I am actually physically in Colorado (even though I have a residence ID). How do I deal with this situation?

ObamaCareFacts.com on

Once you have a physical address and know you are going to move back, I believe you can actually apply in advance. Maybe you need a bit of information you don’t have yet, but I do not believe they are right generally speaking. I would try again and maybe explain the situation again.