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Healthcare in USA

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Healthcare in USA

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Healthcare in the US

The healthcare system in the States is very contemporary and competent. However, it is also very expensive. You will find hospitals even in the most isolated parts of the country. Consider yourself warned that healthcare fees for doctors, hospital beds and medicines are some of the most costly in the world.

Doctors

You will not be assigned to a local doctor automatically. You can search for one in a phone book or by driving around the city centres (practices are often well marked). You will need to find a practice that is accepting new patients, and you should be prepared to divulge your medical history.

Hospitals

In major cities there are usually a number of hospitals. In smaller cities, however, there may be as few as one. If you cannot get to a hospital, the emergency telephone number is 911. This is the equivalent of 999 here in the UK. Simply request an ambulance to take you to a hospital.

However, if you can get emergency treatment from your regular doctor and avoid going to a hospital then you should do so. It may save on both time and money.

You should have proof of insurance in the USA available. Unsurprisingly, in an emergency, the hospital will work on you first, and then charge you the money. Hospital expenses are taken very seriously, though.

No vaccinations are needed to visit the US.

The US is overall a very safe place to visit health-wise. Cleanliness is good and, unless you have qualms about fluoridation, tap water is safe to drink.

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Private Healthcare

Private healthcare in the USA, on the other hand, often adheres to a standardisation of service. Consequently, as an expat, it is probably wise to invest in private healthcare at least until you are completely familiar with the national health system. Getting medical treatment for you and your family without comprehensive health insurance could prove arduous, and no-one wants the hassle of bureaucracy in an emergency. You may even find that the country you are emigrating to has no national health service.

The benefits of private healthcare include:

  • Peace of mind

  • Better efficiency and quality of service

  • Could save large sums money (possibly thousands of pounds) in the case of an emergency

  • A vaster choice of services and practitioners

  • No waiting lists or bureaucracy

  • Ensures you do not have to settle for local, possibly inadequate or unhygienic, services

  • Request an English-speaking doctor / nurse

Necessity, not luxury

In recent years, private health insurance enquiries have soared in popularity amongst emigrants. By way of policy comparison, people and businesses are continually looking to reduce the cost of their private healthcare. For many, this is because private health cover is not considered an extravagance, but a requisite for living overseas.

However, it must be acknowledged that the rules and regulations associated with international private healthcare are often complex, and attempts to find realistic costs and cover can be both timely and tedious. Therefore, it is vital to approach private health insurance with a few certainties in mind:

Who can provide it and what you should expect

Many private health insurers now provide cover for most countries, so your options are vast. However, if you are emigrating to a country without nationalised healthcare, there are many factors to consider when choosing an insurance company and policy many of which differ by location and cost.

Will the insurer cover:

  • Maternity?

  • A chronic illness / condition?

  • A country at war?

You will have to weigh-up the costs of such services as private doctors, outpatient medicine, and dental cover. But that's not all. You may also have to decide where you'd like to receive treatment in the case of a serious health problem or injury. Does your adopted nation meet requirements, or would you prefer to return to the UK for treatment?

Your chosen destination

All though a policy may meet your medical requirements, a country's health service may not. Therefore, wherever your business takes you, it is important to consider:

  • Laws and regulations of the country

  • Accessibility and availability of treatment

  • 24-hour emergency treatment

  • Security

  • Case management and service delivery

Choosing your health insurance policy

When deciding upon a suitable private health plan in the USA, will you require any of the following benefits? If so, will you be able to receive them?

Cover for:

  • The region / country of relocation

  • Psychiatric care

  • Rehabilitation

  • Therapy

  • Emergency evacuation and transportation

  • In-patient and day case management

  • Out-patient treatment

  • Chronic and existing illnesses and conditions

  • Maternity

  • Dental / optical requirements and treatment

  • Out-of-area treatment

You will find that many policies include a small standard excess, which will be charged either per year, or per claim. However, if you choose a higher excess plan these premiums can be remarkably reduced.

Do I have any other choices?

Treatment in the UK

It is a general truism that emigration is fraught with significant costs. As a result, people often consider private health insurance one cost too many especially if they are on a tight budget. They are all too willing to run the risk.

Consequently, many emigrants and travellers opt to return to the UK for medical treatment, but often overlook the fact that this too can be a very risky option. Firstly, you still need to be registered with a UK doctor to be eligible for treatment upon your return. If unprepared, you could find yourself in the same situation back in the UK.

Secondly, you need to account for medical emergencies which would require immediate attention. Is it really worth the risk?

 

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