I will be be studying abroad this fall. Because of this, I will have to quit my full time job, and lose my insurance through my company. I am inquiring if I could purchase insurance through the ACA and if I would be covered while studying abroad. Also, what would my quotes be?
Under ObamaCare when studying abroad you can get a PPO with coverage outside of the US, a student health plan, an employer plan, or some foreign insurance to avoid the fee, travelers insurance won't avoid the fee. You can also simply take an exemption if you stay outside the country long enough or if your taxable income is below the filing limit in the US. Let's cover each option and the ramifications.
1. Private health insurance through ObamaCare's Marketplaces or outside of the exchanges. If you have a health plan that counts as minimum essential coverage and provides coverage outside of the US you can simply keep this while studying overseas. An example of this plan is a multi-state PPO from BCBS purchased on the Health Insurance Marketplace with emergency services covered outside of the country. Even if your plan doesn't cover you overseas it will protect you from the fee, although since it won't cover your health it may not be the best option for you. As long as your household income in the US is between 100% - 400% of the Federal Poverty Level you can get cost assistance, even when traveling. Make sure to apply for Marketplace coverage in the state that your primary residence is in, not in the country you are going to school in.
NOTE: Medicaid and CHIP will protect you from the fee, but won't actually provide coverage outside of the country. Still if your permanent residence is in the US and your income is low enough, and your state expanded Medicaid you can obtain and maintain Medicaid to avoid the fee while studying abroad.
2. Using an exemption. If you won't file a tax return in the US because your income is below the filing limit or will be outside of the country for more than 330 days in a 12 month period, you may want to look into other options. Cost assistance on private plans is based on income, if your income is too low you won't qualify for cost assistance, but will qualify for an exemption from the fee. See other exemptions here.
3. Employer plans. If your employer offers you coverage while you are in school, even foreign coverage, that coverage will most likely count as minimum essential coverage and protect you from the fee.
4. Some types of foreign coverage and student plans. Some types of foreign coverage and student plans will help you avoid the fee and cover your health. If your university offers coverage it will almost certainly count as minimum essential coverage, if you are obtaining coverage in the country outside of the school and will be subject to the mandate you may want to double check with HealthCare.Gov if the plan will count.
5. Travelers Insurance. Travelers won't protect you from the fee and doesn't typically count as minimum essential coverage. However, if you aren't subject to the mandate travelers can be a good short term option.
The bottom line: Even if you are going to school outside of the US you are still subject to the requirement to obtain and maintain minimum essential coverage or an exemption. Some options will protect you from the fee, but will do little for your health. Others will protect your health, but still leave you subject to the fee. Make sure to understand your health choices and the tax ramifications when studying abroad. You can always refer to our page on minimum essential coverage to understand what options protect you from the fee.
Your health insurance quotes for studying abroad will depend upon what option you choose.