Expat Healthcare in the USA

Posted 10th May 2015

It often comes as a shock for any Brits thinking of moving to the USA to discover how expensive American healthcare can be. In the UK citizens receive free healthcare at the point of delivery thanks to the National Health Service (NHS), but this concept simply doesn’t exist in the USA.

Protecting Your Health in the USA

Whether you’re simply travelling to the US on holiday or are considering relocating to the country for work or pleasure, you’re going to have to invest in health insurance. The alternative to insurance is eye-wateringly high medical bills, or not visiting a doctor at all. According to the online magazine Expat Arrivals, "for those without insurance, healthcare in the USA is mediocre and sometimes non-existent."

Private Healthcare

There is no such thing as state or national healthcare in the US. While most hospitals across the whole country are very good, some of them exceptionally so, they do vary. This means that costs for different procedures can also alter from state to state or hospital to hospital. You will be able to benefit from first-rate doctors as well as shorter waiting times for treatment. If you are working in the USA your employer may well offer medical insurance as part of your employment terms and conditions. If this is not the case, then it’s imperative that you invest in some form of comprehensive health insurance before moving to the USA.

Declare all Medical Conditions

In common with many insurance policies, if you don’t declare a pre-existing condition, your insurance cover will be null and void. If you are having difficulty in obtaining a policy and you are a US resident, the InterNations website suggests that you may be able to access help with medical costs under the complex provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act (otherwise known as Obama Care).

International Healthcare Insurance

For those moving to the USA for a short time, an international insurance policy, rather than a specific American policy might be better. Be warned though, not all hospitals will accept all insurance policies, and if you know the area to where you are moving it’s a sensible precaution to carry out some advance research.

A Complex Maze

At its worst the American healthcare system can prove to be a nightmare. At its best you can be treated in some of the finest hospitals in the world. You don’t want to go to hospital expecting to be treated for an ailment only to discover that your insurance won’t cover your costs, or that your policy doesn’t cover the price of expensive medicines. Always carry out research before starting your new adventure in the USA.

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