Obamacare for USA Visitors and Immigrants

Understanding the key features of Obamacare, what it covers, who can use it and how it effects visitors, immigrants, US residents and international students.


Demystifying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as PPACA and commonly referred to as “Obamacare”, is an Obama-led strategy to improve access to affordable healthcare in the United States. The President launched the plan on March 23 2010 to combat rapidly rising healthcare costs as well as to deal with the large numbers of uninsured people currently living in the United States.


Millions of people in the US are uninsured and these people risk huge debt through medical bills – 2.2 million people are uninsured in Los Angeles County alone, for example. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to give the uninsured affordable access to health insurance. The PPACA is also designed to decrease healthcare spending, improve the quality of healthcare, and give US residents more rights against health insurers.

Many of these people, however, are still unsure how the PPACA will affect them. While the PPACA is a complex set of documentation and procedure, there are several key facts that matter for residents, students, tourists, immigrants, and other visitors to the United States.

Key Features of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The core of the PPACA ensures three key features are met – everyone must have a minimum amount of coverage; insurers must offer health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions or state of health; and policies must be provided at the same price regardless of factors like age and gender. Affordable health insurance policies are provided through the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace – these plans may be purchased by eligible US citizens and residents whose income falls below a certain level.

The PPACA has many critics. However, supporters claim that the Act will result in the following advantages:

  • Citizens and legal residents of the United States will not be denied health insurance if they suffer from a pre-existing medical condition, nor will they be dropped from health insurance plans due to health problems or insurer loopholes.
  • Health insurance policies will be clearer and simpler to understand.
  • Medicaid and Medicare will be expanded – under the PPACA up to seven million more Americans could be covered under Medicaid.
  • US citizens will be able to buy subsidized health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Children will be able to remain on their parents’ plan up until the age of 26.

The policy isn’t to force people into the government’s scheme. US citizens don’t have to sign up for government-provided health insurance, but most citizens do need to have some form of health insurance in place once the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is in effect otherwise they will incur a tax penalty.

Why Should You Care About the PPACA?

PPACA is on the road to full implementation and the legislation will affect individuals, businesses and the healthcare industry in a number of important ways. Residents and citizens, visitors to the United States, immigrants, international students, and other groups will be affected in different ways by the PPACA. While most people will be penalized if they do not have health insurance, there are some groups of people that will remain uninsured as PPACA moves into place.