09 Jan Global Mobility Guide to Health Care in the U.S.
After getting firm advice on his compensation package, type of accommodations, and possibly support for his family, the next thing that an assignee would ask the global mobility specialist recruiting him would revolve around health care benefits.
He would also be very particular about his questions. Would he be insured while working in the U.S.? What would the coverage entail: hospitalization, visits to clinics, medical tests, or out-of-pocket expenses? Would the company shoulder all these expenses, or would a chunk of it be taken from his salary? Finally, those who are bringing their loved ones to their country of employment would naturally ask for inclusion of their partner and spouses.
If left to themselves, global mobility specialists would probably be the first to ask for health care benefits for their assignees. They would want these international recruits happy, healthy, and productive during their stay in the U.S. Medical bills can and will drain one’s savings, and the global mobility specialist would not want his new recruit to add anxiety over his health-related expenses to the extensive cultural and corporate adjustment he is already experiencing. This is one reason why global mobility specialists keep consulting with partners like California Corporate Housing, embassies, travel agencies, and schools (among others) to ensure that their assignee is happily settled.
The assignee is bound to receive medical coverage, one way or another. Health coverage is a government requirement for all companies. InterNations attributes this to former president Barack Obama’s health care program instituted in 2014. Health care among employees was considered optional previous to that year; since then, it has become mandatory.
The Affordable Care Act also provides U.S. citizens, immigrants, and assignees with a working or resident visa the following coverage: preventive care, and health care extended to young adults below 26 years old. Small-to-medium-sized businesses can also enjoy tax credits to help them provide health care insurance for their workers. Global mobility specialists should take note of these advantages in crafting a health care compensation package for their assignees.
There are actually a few options that global mobility specialists can facilitate for their assignees and their company’s which might provide or subsidize the medical insurance.
Expat Briefing names Health Savings Account as similar to a bank account except that it is used solely for medical reasons. A certain amount is regularly deposited into it, accumulating enough funds that can be withdrawn for medical purposes. Any other reason – travel, education, accommodation – would not be granted funding.
The second option is obtaining an international health insurance coverage for the assignee prior to his leaving his home country. This kind of insurance should take care of medical costs incurred while working in the U.S., as well as expenses related to medical evacuation, should the need arise.
Like any other insurance policy, the global mobility specialist and the assignee should study all the details from cost, terms of service, to illnesses addressed. Up to how much medical expenses would the insurance cover? What would be the medical conditions it would accept? And which ones would fall outside its radar? Would accidents, injuries, and sickness encountered during business travels be attended to? Would a 24/7 helpdesk service be available in case the assignee has a medical emergency?
After weighing these options, the global mobility specialist would then have to finalize details with management. It would not be surprising if the global mobility specialist were to learn during the discussion that management wants the assignee to contribute partially. As reported by The Telegraph, companies have been asking their staff to contribute to their medical insurance. If these firms can negotiate same with U.S. citizens, there is good chance that they would ask the same from foreign talents.
If the company executives rule that way, then it is up to the global mobility’s expert skills in negotiation and people management to make the assignee see that this arrangement is not a heavy burden, but an investment that is part of launching an international career. It is a small price to pay to assume an assignment that others would gladly give their proverbial right arm to experience.