US Health Care System: What is good to know?
The United States of America is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. Whether you travel for pleasure or business, every year millions of visitors come to the US for stays ranging from one week to a few months. If we can say with certainty that the visitor will find a country welcoming on arrival, it is necessary that he gets informed about some aspects of daily life in USA that can be very different from his country of origin.
One of these is certainly the national health system. This is recognized as one of the best in the world, with absolute points of medical excellence. But unlike many countries in the rest of the world, the burden of the costs of medical care falls on the citizen / patient. In other words, the majority of US citizens subscribe to a medical insurance to protect themselves in case of medical treatment. If the income is below poverty line, the federal government will intervene to help the citizen to subscribe said insurance policy.
Considering the above, it is clear that a foreign visitor is not covered by the national American health care system. Hence the necessity of resorting to medical care while you are in USA can result in a very expensive bill. While in fact it is possible to receive medical care at any hospital without possessing a medical insurance, the costs associated with these treatments are entirely up to the patient.
What to do in the event of a medical emergency?
In general, in case of need for medical care, you have several options, all related to the severity of the problem. If the problem is in fact not very urgent, it is best to call the hospital and ask for a recommendation for a specific doctor for your problem. A visit to a doctor is less expensive than one at the emergency room.
The second option is to contact at private health clinics, which are cheaper than a hospital. However it is important to remember that these tend to run a series of tests on the patient which can drive up the final cost. Even in cases of minor medical necessity. Always pay attention at the offered exams, not all of them are necessary to you in specific circumstances, use your common sense.
In case of emergency, the best thing is certainly that you contact the hospital nearest to you and receive medical attention in the emergency room.
It is advisable to be covered by health insurance
As stated above, the US has a health care system where the patient bears the costs for medical attention. American citizens protect themselves with a medical insurance, why not do it yourself as a visitor?
Insurance companies typically exist to protect and safeguard. Whether you suffer from sprained ankle, or are afflicted with dysentery while abroad, insurance can assist you and not leave you alone. Especially when your medical care bill arrives, you’d like a lot not to be alone. It is therefore very useful to consider a policy that is the most appropriate to your trip. In addition to the medical coverage also many insurances include theft or loss of baggage, delays and flight cancellations, repatriation due to reasons of force majeure, etc.
How to evaluate and choose a policy?
Some terms and conditions of the policy will guide you through the evaluation and selection of the most suitable coverage for you. We suggest you consider:
- The maximum expenditure covered by insurance. It is recommended that this threshold is higher than the 500,000 euro.
- If the medical expense is considerable, it is recommended that the policy provides for the payment of such expenses directly to the Hospital. We do not recommend the option of refund after you have paid.
- Pay attention to the deductible. The lower is the payment that will be up to you in the event of an accident, the better is your insurance.
- We suggest that you always opt for coverage for repatriation costs in case of emergencies (natural disasters, unexpected wars, terrorist attacks, etc.).
- Choose coverage for ambulance transport.
- Make sure the phone number for an emergency is always active and reliable.
- Check and evaluate the accessory coverage as, lost or stolen luggage, insurance in the event you rent a car, etc.
Finally, if your trip involves excursions or sports activities at high risk (activities in the snow, hiking in the mountains, parachute, rafting, etc.), Make sure you are covered even in such cases and that the transport to a hospital (some cases require helicopter transport) is included in the coverage.
And next you may want to check
- That the medical insurance phone number has doctors ready to assist you?
- You’ll be assisted in the event that your injury makes you temporarily not self-sufficient?
- Should you have a long hospital stay and your family would like to visit you, that their travel expenses will be covered.
In general we warmly recommend reading carefully the terms and conditions of the policy that you want to subscribe.
And if I decide to insure my luggage?
In this case, read carefully what, where, when and how. If your bags are stolen from a car, you are covered? Are electronics (iPad, smart phones, portable speakers, etc.) insured? If yes, are they even if your phone would fall from the Grand Canyon? For any doubt, ask the insurance company. By law it is required to give any explanation about the coverage.
What will it cost to travel insured?
It is important to remember that the insurance covers high costs, in some cases in the hundreds of thousands of Euros. If a European traveler would have a serious accident in Los Angeles, this would have a quite high hospital bill, and the state of California pursues the patient until he pays. Same goes for a hiker in the mountains of Colorado that had a sudden emergency and therefore needed to be transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital. Considering the above it is evident what benefits insurance can give to the subscriber.
What can certainly help in choosing the most suitable coverage at the most convenient price to you, is to customize your coverage. In other words, if you are traveling with a backpack and personal belongings of little value, why would you insure the luggage? Or why opt for policy with driving coverage if you are not going to rent any car?
Remember that the higher price does not necessarily match the best policy, or at least the best for your needs.
A bit of study on the conditions of coverage and its possibilities of customization, it can help you in tailoring the best protection for your journey. And it will have a lower price than a standard policy.
As a general rule we can definitely say that the final cost of the policy is related to the country of origin, at the age of the subscriber, the destination and time of stay. Some policies for specific geographical areas of the world have a substantial higher cost than others.
More tips for choosing your insurance
In order that your choice of the insurance can be as much informed and appropriate as possible, we invite you to consider the following aspects of the insurance contract:
If you rent a motor-vehicle or a car: The car rental companies usually require you to subscribe an insurance policy when you take possession of the vehicle. Some credit card companies offer this service for free to their customers (American Express© for example). Should you wish to lower the cost of mandatory insurance for the renter, you might consider in your policy coverage the use of motorized vehicles. After having the costs of it compare it with the terms offered by the renter and choose the one most suitable to you.
Damage to persons or things: Since the US is a nation where the sense of personal responsibility is highly prevalent, even in economic terms. And since the US is also the nation that stands out in the world for the highest number of law suits to individuals and / or companies for compensation, you may want a coverage that protects your finances from any damage caused to persons or property.
Delay or temporary impediment: The journey to your final destination can sometimes be delayed by unpredictable events. The most common is a strike. Other less common but worse in terms of severity may be natural calamities, terrorist attacks or outbreaks of war. Some insurance companies cover this kind of impediment up to 250 euros per day.
Trip cancellation: In the unlikely event that your trip is canceled last minute due to force majeure, it is appropriate to consider covering the costs associated with it (flight, cruise, hotel, etc.). The recommended coverage (you can negotiate it) can reach 100% of the costs, plus a compensation for any emotional damages. Remember that the higher the amount of compensation, the higher will be the premium to be paid.
Airlines or any other service provider bankruptcy: due to recent mergers and closures of airlines and other service providers, insurance companies have added this coverage. Usually a good insurance provides coverage ranging from ten thousand euros up.