Foreign visitors to the USA are not eligible for Obamacare, officially known as Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or Affordable Care Act (ACA).
PPACA, widely known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010 by then president Barack Obama, and was implemented in 2014. It requires all US citizens and certain US residents to purchase a compliant health insurance year round or pay a penalty while filing tax return.
Since the passage of the law, many people mistakenly think that the healthcare is free in the U.S.; however, it is not free for anyone, even US citizens. The law allows eligible people to buy the health insurance at subsidized rates based on their income.
Visitors to USA are clearly not eligible to purchase ACA compliant insurance plan. Foreign visitors don't file a tax return in the US. The question of tax penalty does not even apply to them.
Those who are eligible to purchase a Obamacare insurance plan cannot enroll into the insurance at any time but only during the open enrollment period, which typically runs from Nov 15 through Jan 15. Even if foreigners are visiting the US during open enrollment, they still can't enroll into Obamacare because they are not eligible. To be eligible to enroll into an ACA insurance plan a person needs a social security number, to have established residency in a US state, and to have their identity verified through credit history. Obamacare is not a short term insurance plan, it is meant to cover the insured person year round.
Visitors to USA can only qualify for visitors insurance plans that are short term insurance plans.
Short term plans are not ACA compliant as they qualify for short-term limited duration exemption. That means it will have limitations like a limited policy maximum, will not cover pre-existing conditions (but some will cover acute onset of pre-existing conditions up to some extent), may be a fixed coverage plan, no maternity coverage, no elective treatment, no wellness or preventive care, and several other limitations.
Even though visitors to USA are not eligible to enroll into a PPACA compliant health insurance, we still highly recommend that they purchase visitors insurance, just like pre-Obamacare days. Healthcare in the US is very expensive. A visit to a physician or urgent care is not free, the emergency room is not free, a call to 911 gets you immediate treatment and an ambulance, but no treatment is free.
Without proper medical coverage, most visitors to USA would not be able to afford medical treatment when they need it.
Some people may argue that charity will pay for it because hospitals cannot deny treatment, or that visitors do not have money to pay and have no assets for the hospital to go after in collections or court. Give these situations some serious consideration; do you really want to put your guests through all that? Many visitors are elderly parents and in-laws; at that age is it worth taking risky chances? You should definitely consider purchasing visitors insurance from a US based company, which has many advantages.
How can you exclude pre-existing conditions in visitors insurance? If it is included in the Obamacare law, you are not allowed to do that.
Short term visitors insurance plans are non ACA compliant. That means these plans can exclude pre-existing conditions.
Why do I need to specify the policy maximum while purchasing visitors insurance? Under Obamacare, we should have an unlimited medical maximum.
Short term insurance plans, such as visitors insurance, are not ACA compliant; therefore, they don't offer unlimited policy maximum.
Are we required to purchase an Obamacare compliant plan for visitors?
No. You are not required to purchase an Obamacare compliant plan for your visitors. In fact, you can't purchase an Obamacare compliant plan for them as visitors to USA are not eligible to enroll into an Obamacare plan.