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If you’re immigrating to the USA, the important thing to realise if you’re British or an EU national, is that the USA does not have a public healthcare system like you’re used to in Europe or Britain. As a South African, of course, this is old news. Instead, there are insurance plans run by federal and state institutions – but these are only available to US citizens who earn an income that is less than the medium wage. So how do you handle healthcare as an expat? Here are some tips…

The low-down on healthcare in the USA

Take out a travel insurance policy

If you are working in the USA, your company will generally provide some type of health insurance but it can take up to three months before you receive your insurance card. So it’s advisable to have some type of travel insurance in place that will cover your healthcare for a few months.

Take out private health insurance

If your company does not provide private health insurance as one of its perks, it’s advisable to take out a private health insurance policy. The reason for this is that simple visit to a GP for a non-inured patient can cost around $200 for an exam only. For specialists, this can increase to $350 or $400 depending on the doctor and location.

Understand the “provider” network system.

Doctors in the USA can either be an in-network or an out-of-network provider. In other words, doctors who work with your health insurance provider are called in-network providers and you’ll usually be fully covered for exams when you visit them. If you choose to go to an out-of-network provider, you will not be fully covered for treatment.

You might not be fully covered.

Even if you take out private health insurance, some plans only cover patients for a certain amount of medical examinations per year. Some plans only cover a percentage of hospital stays – and sometimes these might not be covered at all. So read your plan’s fine print carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Emergency treatment is not free.

If your treatment is considered an emergency, the hospital will expect payment for treatment costs, including surgeries, medicines, medical supplies, ambulance transportation costs and anything else used to treat you. If you are an expat and have no insurance, you will be transported to a welfare-based hospital for treatment.

Need help with your cross-border finances?

If you’re planning on immigrating to the USA or any other country and need any advice about your financial migration, just leave your details and we’ll assist you in moving your money across borders.
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