Health Care in the USA

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

FACTSABOUTIntlHealthINSURANCEEverybody wants to relocate in the United States of America because practically one can find what he needs in the world’s most powerful country. The United States of America is one of the world’s most highly industrialized nations.

If you are thinking about relocating to the USA, you have a lot of things to attend to, like obtaining the proper visa, finding the right place, and so on and so forth. Like anybody who has plans of moving, the health care system is one thing that has to be properly attended to.

A Federal Constitutional Republic, the United States of America is composed of fifty states and a federal district. This country is located almost in the entire western hemisphere. Its capital state, Washington D.C., and forty-eight other contiguous states lie in North America, just between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by Mexico to the south and Canada to the north, Alaska which is located northwest of the country and Hawaii in the mid-Pacific. The United States of America also has fourteen insular areas or territories, scattered all around the Pacific and the Caribbean.

The United States of America has a total land area of 9.83 million kilometers squared and a population of more than three hundred million people. The nation is the third largest country in the world by total area, and the third by population. Considered as one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations because of thousands of immigrants from many countries, the United States of America holds the distinction of being the world’s largest economic country, with a total gross domestic product of over US$ 13 trillion in 2008.

Health Care in the USA – Finding a Doctor

Despite being one of the most developed countries in the world, the United States does not have a universal system and only has a number of systems to take care of particular needs. Being a highly industrialized nation, finding a doctor in the United States is not difficult at all because of the hundreds of medical practitioners found in every state. Bear in mind that you will not be automatically assigned to a local doctor once you are there..  Instead, it is your prerogative to search for one from your phonebook. Or better yet, you can try driving around your town or village to find a doctor you think is suitable for you. See to it that you find a practice that accepts new patients. Once you are there, you will then be asked to state your medical history and fill out some forms. If possible, ask for a copy of your medical records from your previous doctor from your country of origin. That way, you will not have to state every detail of your medical history, which can sometimes be confusing. Also, your previous medical records will help your present doctors in keeping track of your health.

Emergencies in the USA

For any emergency situation, if you cannot get yourself to the hospital, you can call 911 and request for an ambulance to assist you in your medical emergencies. The medical staffs of 911 are trained to handle any emergency situations. They will assist you and take you to an emergency room nearest your place. However, if you do not want to be taken to the hospital during emergency situations, seek for an emergency treatment from your doctor. Additionally, if you are still capable of taking yourself to the emergency room, call the hospital ahead so that when you arrive there, the medical staff will be expecting you. This may actually help you from waiting for long hours in the emergency room of the hospital.

Paying for your Hospital Treatments

In essence, the US healthcare system is built from a number of independent components. Medicare covers the elderly and disabled with work records, Medicaid for some, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for children of low income families, the Veterans Health Administration and TRICARE.

Always have in hand some proof of your insurance and present it at the front desk of the hospital or where the information is requested at the hospital you are in. The US System works around doctors and hospitals are funded by patients and insurance plans for services rendered. Qualifying for health insurance was discussed in America Expat Forum last June 30, 2009:

Being a permanent resident for 5 years is NOT a requirement. Below is the list of requirements.
“Who qualifies for Medicare? All American citizens and permanent residents over age 65 qualify for Part A Medicare if they meet one of the following requirements:
Eligible for or receiving Social Security benefits
Eligible for or receiving Railroad Retirement benefits
You worked in a government job for a minimum amount of time during which payments were made into Medicare on your behalf.
Your living, diseased, or divorced spouse met any of the above criteria
If you are over 65 and don’t meet one of those “who qualifies for Medicare” criteria, you can still access the health plan by paying a premium for it.
Additionally, there are people who qualifies for Medicare who are under 65. for instance, people with end stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease also qualify
Anyone who qualifies for Part A Medicare also automatically qualifies for Part B Medicare. You should be aware however that while Part A is free, there is a monthly premium for Part B. People who do not qualify for Part A can still pay for Part B under certain conditions.
Part A medicare is the original plan and is still operated by the government. It covers hospital services. Part B is medical insurance for seniors and covers doctor’s visits, outpatient care and the like.
If you qualify for Part A and Part B, you will also qualify for Parts C and D. Part C replaces parts A and B with a more comprehensive insurance plan including prescription drug benefits at a more expensive price. Part D provides prescription drug benefits to people on Parts A and B.”

In emergency cases, the doctors will have to save you first and then charge you with the necessary payments after. Be aware that requesting for an ambulance to pick you up to take you to the emergency room could actually cost you hundreds of dollars. You are also expected to pay the medical treatments before you leave. Even if you have a health insurance, you are still required to pay parts of the cost after you have seen your doctor. The rest of your hospital bills will then be sent to you through mail.

Hospitals in the United States

Major cities and states in the United States normally have a number of hospitals. But in small cities and in rural towns, there may possibly be only one. Rural areas are more likely to have no available standard hospitals. Before you relocate to the United States, try to do some research over the Internet and obtain a list of hospital names of the place you are relocating to.

The major hospitals in the United States are equipped with the latest in medical technologies. The doctors, surgeons, specialists, and medical staffs are well trained from top universities of the country. And because it is the United States, expect to have the best from the hospitals as far as health care is concerned.

Prescriptions in the United States

Prescription drugs are normally available at drugstores. Pharmacists are normally present to provide you with the drugs that you will need. They will also provide you with the necessary instructions on how to take the prescribed medicines. Additionally, all the medicines will be in English.

This was recounted in a post in America Expat Forum last July 23, 2009:

I know of people who have simply brought a one-year supply of their prescription with them. The other approach is to go to a doctor in the US after your arrival and have them prescribe your meds for you
Normally, a pharmacist can only fill a prescription written by a doctor licensed in the state. It shouldn’t be as much of a problem for someone coming from Canada, but there is also the matter of different medications being prescribed in different countries for the same ailment

Finding a Dentist in The US

Follow similar procedures as you would in finding a doctor. For those who already have a medical insurance, double check if it states limitations where you dentists can choose. There are some medical insurance that have limited dental options so be aware about that.

Childcare in the United States

In the USA, there are varied kinds of childcare available. Options may include a private in-home childcare, an institutional childcare, or the corporate institutional childcare. These days, employers are quite flexible so that those two parent families can properly arrange for childcare in different varieties of ways.

Indeed, living in the United States is a truly remarkable one. With the right doctors, the most well-equipped medical facilities, and the proper health care system, it is no wonder why a lot of people are thinking about relocating into this first world country.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Susan Piper January 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

This article does not really tell you just how bad health care is in the United States. Unless you are independently wealthy or have other means to pay, you will not be seen most likely. Some hospitals literally put patients, in the ER, in cabs or other vehicles and send to them to parts of town known as "Skid Row" and literally dump them out on the sidewalk or street in hospital gowns and no shoes to wander aimlessly in dangerous places that may or may not have indigent health care facilities. Other people pay high premiums for healthcare and still are denied coverage since they may have had a "pre-existing condition" such as a sinus infection, a yeast infection, or just claim that if a person who is young when diagnosed with a form of cancer typically seen in older people, then it must not really exist and their insurance is nullified so that they receive no treatment. Much care is now performed, especially in the southeastern United States, by young people rushed through programs (especially in the state of Tennessee and rural areas definitely) who are not qualified. Some are passed due to affirmative action, some because of nepotism (a very serious, long term "tradition" here) rather than ability to do the job. Some of us who were trained at Stanford and the University of California and came back to the south to help our native communities are not allowed to do so because we are actually qualified and there is a bigotry toward anyone not Republican or that may have lost their southern accent or actually received a good education since that isn't something normally obtained in the southeast part of the U.S. You take your life into your own hands in the US.


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