Navigating the Healthcare System in the USA: A Guide for British Residents Planning a Move

Doctor's surgery

If you are thinking of moving to the USA, or already have firm plans in place to move from the UK to the USA, then you will need to know as much as possible about how life will change for you. One very important factor, whether you are moving by yourself or with your family, is healthcare. How accessible is good healthcare? Is there a similar system as our NHS in the UK?

Let 1st Move give you details of how healthcare works in the USA.

History of Healthcare in the USA

It’s safe to say we all have a general idea of how things work in the healthcare sector in the USA, from watching television and films, but how did the current system evolve in the USA?

Going back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the US government had very little involvement in healthcare, and care was provided most often by independent doctors and hospitals. This meant that there were many Americans how just couldn’t afford healthcare.

During the second world war, there was a shortage of doctors and nurses, but in 1942 the US government introduced something called the Stabilization Act to try to control rising inflation and stabilize prices, wages and salaries. This allowed hospitals to pay their employees more which increased the number of healthcare workers.

Private health insurance grew in popularity after the war, but it remained at a high cost meaning there was still a large number of Americans without insurance. In 1965, to try to combat this, Medicare and Medicaid were created, which assisted in providing healthcare for the elderly and those on low incomes.

Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare was introduced as a federal health insurance program for Americans that are 65 or older, and for people with certain disabilities such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis amongst others.

There are 4 parts to Medicare coverage. Part A covers hospital insurance, Part B covers medical insurance, Part C covers Advantage plans, which include both parts A & B plus other benefits, and Part D which is coverage for drugs. Each part has different costs, and these are funded by both payroll taxes and premiums paid for by beneficiaries.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program providing health coverage to families and individuals on low-income. This provides services such as primary, hospital and long-term healthcare. Some services not covered by Medicare, such as optical and dental services, are covered by Medicaid, as well as coverage for children and pregnant women.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Healthcare in the USA has continued to evolve and, in 2010, the then President Barack Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act, which came to be known as “Obamacare”. The idea was to make health insurance more accessible for Americans, as well as more affordable, by expanding Medicaid and by introducing “health insurance marketplaces”.

These “health insurance marketplaces” provide the opportunity for Americans to have government subsidies towards insurance plans, based on their income. The ACA also required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, prohibited lifetime limits on coverage.

The ACA really reduced the number of Americans who did not have health insurance, but faced a lot of opposition in the government. When President Trump came into power, changes were made meaning that there was no provision to fine anyone who did not health insurance, and also giving individual states more leeway to seek certain waivers where they so wished.

The Pros and Cons of the US Healthcare System

Pros of the US Healthcare System:

  • Access to advanced medical technology and treatments.
  • Some of the best hospitals in the world.
  • Highly trained workforce of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Provides top quality care

Cons of the US Healthcare System

  • High cost
  • Large disparity of healthcare access amongst different racial and ethnic groups
  • Lack of universal coverage, leading to many individuals without health insurance and no access to basic healthcare services.

Comparing the UK and USA Healthcare Systems

If you move from the UK to the USA, you will see many differences in the healthcare systems that you have access to. In the USA, as explained previously, healthcare is provided largely by private companies, and is funded predominantly by individuals purchasing their own insurance, or through health insurance policies provided by the companies that they are employed by.

This means that the result is a fragmented system that gives varying levels of access and healthcare depending on how much you are able to afford. In the UK we have access to the National Health Service, which is funded through taxes and has no cost at the time of the provision of services. Although this provides healthcare for all, mainly at the same level of care throughout, as we know it has its own challenges in terms of funding.

Another difference is with the level of involvement that the government has in the UK and USA in respect of the provision on health services. In the USA the government has a smaller role, whilst in the UK the government is responsible for the majority of health care provision.

Both healthcare systems have their pros and cons, but you need to be aware, and factor into your financial planning, that in the USA you will need to fund your healthcare provision yourself through health insurance, albeit through your own policy of via your employer.

The US Healthcare System

The US healthcare system is known for being one of the best in the world, and has access to the best professionals and advanced technology, mainly down to the funding that is provided though the health insurance of Americans. But the negative aspects are also resident due to the way that healthcare is funded, as many Americans do not have cover as they simply cannot afford to pay for it.

Obamacare did its best to readdress the balance, and ensure that affordable healthcare was accessible as many people as possible, but this was met with some resistance and eventually changes once a new political leader was in place.

The main thing for someone who is moving to the USA to remember, as with all aspects of your move overseas, is to ensure that you research this aspect of living in the USA fully and to factor all costs into your financial planning.

To help you on your way, here is a list of some of the top health insurance companies in the USA, so that you can see for yourself the types of services and costs that are provided;

Removals from the UK to the USA

Are you thinking of moving to America and in search of a reliable and trustworthy international removals company? With over 25 years of experience in international removals from the UK to the USA, we can help you ship your belongings to America faster and safer than other movers. Whether you’re looking for removals to New York, Los Angeles, Miami or elsewhere, we’ve got you covered. Request a free quote here on our website today to receive an estimate for your move.

About 1st Move International

1st Move International are a specialist international moving and shipping company offering packing, shipping and insurance for shipping household goods and personal effects overseas. We have a global reach covering over 80 countries and 6500 worldwide destinations. You can get an international removals quote here or find more information on our international removals UK to USA service here.

Avatar for Mike Harvey
As the Managing Director of 1st Move International, Mike Harvey brings more than two decades of logistics expertise and three years of specialised experience in international relocations to his role. His comprehensive knowledge spans the intricacies of overseas shipping, secondary yet crucial areas such as visa application processes and immigration requirements, and the wider topic of moving abroad including topics such as comparative analyses of cost of living, healthcare and educational systems worldwide. This expertise allows 1st Move International to equip people with the information they need to not just move overseas, but to make informed decisions about whether, and where, to relocate.