A Reader Asks: Does My Swedish Health Plan Meet ACA Requirements?

Q. My husband and children are Swedish citizens, and I have a permanent green card to live and work in Sweden. Therefore all of us are covered by the Swedish national health care system. For now we reside in California. Is it mandatory that we purchase health insurance here?

A. It may not be necessary.

Assuming that you’re a United States citizen and your family is living here on a valid visa, chances are you all have to have health insurance under the health law unless you qualify for an exemption, says Jenny Rejeske, a health policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center. The insurance coverage you have through Sweden may meet the standards for “minimum essential coverage” under the federal health law.

Under current rules, however, the Department of Health and Human Services has to certify that a foreign plan meets the standards set by the health law based on information provided by the plan sponsor, in this case the Swedish government.  

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A Reader Asks: Does My Swedish Health Plan Meet ACA Requirements?

“Basically the Swedish government would have to prove to HHS that [your family has] minimum essential coverage,” says Rejeske.

In March, the federal government proposed a simpler solution. Under a proposed regulation, health insurance from a foreign country would be designated “minimum essential coverage” as long as it provides health benefits here in the United States.  

Following a comment period that ends later this month, the federal government will issue a final regulation that spells out any changes to the current rules. The timing of that is uncertain.  

Please send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column to questions@kaiserhealthnews.org.