Health and Medicalcare in USA

Healthcare is very essential whatever country you go to. Expats moving to the US are encouraged to have health insurance. The healthcare system is mainly insurance based although there are healthcare programmes which are financed through the tax system. Some accidents and emergencies can cost hundreds of dollars and medical treatment is limited for those who are not able to afford it.

There are some public state level hospitals but consequently health care is not free in America. It is encouraged by the federal government that citizens who reside here take out private health care insurance. This can be very expensive. Taking out health insurance also may be necessary when applying for a certain type of visa and expats should get their health insurance before moving to the USA.

A social insurance system is available to people who have a low income, elderly people and disabled people which all US taxpayers are required to pay taxes for which will help finance this system.

Health Insurance

Expats should invest in the best health insurance policy which they are able to afford and which most services are covered on. This can be applied through employment as well. If you don’t have the appropriate health care, you will have to pay massive bills or run the risk of not getting any medical treatment.

If you have moved to the country for work, your company will make some contribution towards the cost of your health insurance. To get a health insurance card it can take up to 3 months from when they start working in their company. Sometimes a fee for health insurance will be automatically taken from the salary each month. The insurance which is provided by employers will cover everything other than eye care and dental care. Expats could be expected to make payments of USD 30 to USD 100 per month towards eye and dental examination.

Before travelling to the USA expats should ensure they have the complete health insurance policy. Other than in an emergency, patients will not be treated without prior payment, evidence of insurance or a deposit.

Expats who have had accidents and require long term treatments will be denied if they don’t have any health care insurance. Optical and dental operations are not included in any general health insurance and these can also be very expensive.

Expats are advised to keep all receipts so that they are able to make an insurance claim for any medical treatment that they have had in the country or for any prescribed medicines that have been bought . Expats will find that a short visit to the doctor’s for a patient who is not insured can cost USD 200.

When scheduling a doctor’s appointment, expats will need to know their Social Security Number. This is important and must be written down on registration forms which are filled in before seeing the doctor. As well as this, you will need to show a health insurance card. If you are not insured you will need to pay for the visit.

Healthcare Facilities

Hospitals in the USA are mainly privately owned and expats will notice that there is no nationwide system of government owned medical facilities which are open to the public. Patients who are able to afford the health care insurance will have access to some of the best medical technology and most of the best specialists are in the US.

Expats who have private health care won’t need to wait long for an operation or to see a specialist.

International Health Insurance

Foreigners are able to buy international health insurance for the duration of their stay. This is a good alternative when planning on staying in the country for less than one year.

Some of the international health insurance companies may provide minimum coverage and fewer services so this should be researched. Expats will also need to check if doctors and hospitals will accept the type of health insurance they are on.

When looking for an international health insurance service, these things should be considered:

  • Duration of the time you are covered
  • Conditions, diseases and services which are covered or even excluded
  • Amount up to which you are covered
  • If insurance can be reached 24/7
  • How claims are handled

Try and make sure that your international health service covers the USA as the healthcare cost are sometimes excluded from these policies and you may have to pay extra.

A good international cover will insure you against:

  • Medical costs
  • Medical costs in your home country
  • Medical evacuation costs


Before travelling to the USA, expats must be able to prove that children who coming along with them that all their immunisations are up to date. 

Vaccinations for diphtheria, poliomyelitis, rubella and measles are required.

Many schools in the United State will also require that children have had their vaccinations against mumps, tetanus and pertussis.

Emergency Services

Emergency Services in the USA provide to anyone in need by law and the medical service is regulated by individual state governments.

If expats require emergency medical service, they must dial 911 to call an ambulance. An ambulance will then be dispatched to the location with highly experienced paramedics who will be able to provide care at the scene of the emergency.
Like other countries, expats can also make their own way to the nearest hospital which has an emergency room for treatment.


There are many pharmacies in cities which are located within drug stores. Grocery stores and large department stores as well as hospitals and medical clinics.

Expats are able to get medicines which have been prescribed at these pharmacies. They also have strict laws on how much medicine can be brought into the USA and they must have a prescription from a doctor to prove that any medicines are for personal use only. This limit should not be exceeded otherwise the medicines will be taken from you at customers.

Medicaid and Medicare

If you meet the requirements for Medicaid or Medicare, the government will provide healthcare insurance for individuals who are unable to afford health insurance. To apply for this service, expats do not need to be US citizen or if you are a resident or contribute to the Social Security System then you will also meet the requirements.

Medicaid provides health insurance for low income families and individuals if they meet the requirements and fit into the eligibility groups. This covers basic health services and hospital visits.  For some services you may need to provide a co-payment. To receive the Medicaid health care it will be based on factors such as income, age and current health situation. However, the requirements will vary from state to state. There are special rules for people in nursing homes and disabled children who are living at home.

Medicare is another service which provides health insurance only for people who have disabilities who are under the age of 65 and also for people who are over 65. The different parts of the Medicare program are:

  • Hospital Insurance (Part A): This insurance is covered through payroll and covers in-patient care in hospitals, short-term nursing facilities and also hospice care
  • Hospital Insurance (Part B): Insurance which is covered by a monthly premium and covers general doctors services, outpatient care and services for physical and occupation therapists when required.
  • Prescription Drug Coverage (Part C): This insurance is also covered by a monthly premium and is intended to help make prescription medicine affordable by lowering the costs. Private health care insurance companies will provide this insurance.

If you already have Medicare Insurance from your home country, you will still be covered and will not need to get a new US health care plan under the Affordable Care Act.