Gap Health Insurance

U.S. Citizens Returning from Living Abroad


Health Insurance For U.S. Citizens Returning From Living Abroad

Welcome home—and take a deep breath. Culture shock for returning U.S. expatriates can be significant. Not only are there changes, both subtle or substantial, in American culture that you’re expected to take in stride, but there are the ways your travel and time spent abroad have changed you and your expectations.

At the same time, you’re expected to slide gracefully back into your American life. Now is the time for you to obtain a short-term medical insurance policy to protect your health and your peace of mind until you qualify for your own long-term coverage.


Welcome Home and Prepare for Your Reverse Culture Shock

When you first left the states to live or work abroad, you may have considered your new habitat’s culture as novel. However, more than likely, you adapted and adopted many of that country’s cultural morals, habits, and mannerisms. What you didn’t anticipate was the reverse culture shock many expatriates experience returning to the United States from their international assignments.

Often overlooked is the need for health insurance. If you are not covered under your employer’s plan or looking for work, a short-term medical policy will meet your needs until long-term insurance is obtained.


Purchasing Temporary Health Insurance Upon Your Return

Depending upon the state where you are returning to live and work, policies are available for a period of one to 11 months in the event of illness or injury. Such insurance policies also serve to protect you financially should you require medical care, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, or even surgery.

Short-term medical insurance cannot be “renewed” when the policy protection period ends. However, you may be allowed to reapply for a new policy depending upon where you live.

As noted, this stopgap policy is designed to protect you until you are able to locate new employment and arrange for your own long-term policy. The policy allows you to choose the amount of your deductible, coinsurance, length of desired coverage, and the doctors and hospitals from which you seek treatment. Most importantly, you get medical protection.


International Medicine Versus American Medicine

Whether you’re returning from Yemen or Scotland, it’s advisable to seek out a physician for a full check-up and physical examination shortly after your return. This is of particular importance if you have returned from a second or third-world country with limited formal medical care. You may require testing and subsequent treatment for hepatitis, malaria, viral infections and parasitic infestations.

Even if you just flew in from London, medical authorities recommend a doctor's appointment as different medical conditions are sometimes treated differently from location to location.


More Bureaucratic Details of Repatriating

In addition to arranging your medical insurance, repatriation also involves ensuring that your tax records and filings are in order and up to date. Depending on your income, it may benefit you to engage the services of a specialized CPA or accounting firm. Taxes, especially state taxes, continue to be owed by American citizens whether they live in the United States or on the other side of the globe.

Various bureaucratic documents such as your driver's license, voter registration card, debit cards, paper checks, and other identification will require renewal or confirmation that they remain valid. Some credit cards will need to be reissued to be readable to American scanners.