A spokesman for Multinational Underwriters Inc, a company that specializes in international travel insurance, told the Echo recently that the Platinum cover insurance plan it offers as part of its International Citizen Series is open to undocumented people living in the U.S.
The health insurance, which is aimed primarily at non-U.S residents living in the U.S or Canada for extended periods of time, is also available to people living in the U.S. without permanent visas.
“It’s not a question as to whether you’re a resident or not, it’s a worldwide plan,” according to insurance broker Eugenia Wright, who is familiar with the plan through selling it to clients around New York.
“A person from Ireland living here for a number of years can use it. Being legal is not a qualification,” she said.
The Platinum insurance cover, which is underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, appears to offer many of the same benefits as traditional group insurance plans, covering such essentials as emergency treatment, hospital stays, intensive care and maternity care. After 12 months, Platinum membership holders are entitled to wellness benefits for routine physical examinations. The plan is connected to the Hygeia Network, which includes over 400,000 physicians nationwide.
The company also offers dental coverage and life assurance plans to undocumented immigrants.
Annual rates operate on a sliding scale, whereby clients can pay less of an annual premium if they make a higher deductible payment.
On an individual basis, a male aged 30-34 will pay a premium of $912 per year, provided that they pay a deductible payment of $1,000. A healthy female of the same age will pay $1,638 annually, based on the same deductible.
The rates seem competitive when compared with group plans like Empire Blue Cross insurance, where employers and employees can share costs of over $1,000 per month and government plans such as Healthy New York, which offers heath insurance with drug benefits to qualifying individuals for $198 per month.
If both parents are Platinum insurance holders, the first two children on the plan receive free coverage between the ages of 14 days and nine years. Otherwise, child rates apply which can range from $263 per annum to $500 per annum, depending on age and deductible rates. Children whose parents are not on the plan, however, are eligible for young adult rates.
Terry Freehill of New York based company Irish Insurances Services, who has been working for years with community groups to highlight the issue of insurance for undocumented Irish immigrants, expressed concern about the levels of protection offered to people working in hazardous occupations.
“My concern is that down the road if someone is in an accident working in say, demolition, down the road that they’ll run into problems. Worker’s compensation won’t cover it because these people aren’t on anybody’s books.”
His advice, when investigating any insurance plan, is to familiarize yourself with any pre-existing conditions, exclusions and limitations.
People who are HIV positive are excluded, for example, as are people with any conditions of the breast and of the prostate that manifest themselves within the first 180 days of cover. Women who become pregnant within the first 12 months of signing up are not covered either.
Wright said the plan is not just for people in good health but admitted: “You could be rejected, depending on your health.” Cover is not available to people over 75.
Nevertheless, Freehill offered the plan a cautious welcome.
“For the price, I think it’s something that can help a lot of people,” he said.
“It seems to offer a lot more than anything that has come before it. It certainly offers a lot more hope than anything I’ve seen to date,” Freehill added.