Healthcare in the USA
Healthcare in the USA is a contentious issue. For those who have private medical insurance and comprehensive coverage, medical facilities in the USA are some of the best in the world. For those without insurance, healthcare in the USA is mediocre and sometimes completely inaccessible.
Major traumas can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and for those who can't afford it, medical treatment is limited. Emergency services must be provided by law to everyone, but patients can expect to pay hefty fees afterwards.
Healthcare facilities in the USA
The majority of hospitals in the USA are privately owned. There is no nationwide system of government-owned medical facilities open to the public, as one would find in Europe or Canada.
The standard of medical facilities in the USA is excellent. Patients who can afford it will have access to some of the best medical technology. Doctors are highly trained and many of the best specialists can be found in the USA.
The advantages of private healthcare in the USA include short waiting times for operations and specialists as well as competing medical services.
While there is a federal medical aid scheme, which the government provides to children and those living in poverty, most expats living in the USA do not qualify for any assistance. However, most expats who are relocated to the USA for work will find that their company will make at least some contribution towards the cost of their health insurance.
Pharmacies in the USA
Pharmacies can easily be found in US cities. They are located in drug stores, grocery stores and large department stores, as well as attached to hospitals and medical clinics.
Expats will be able to get almost all prescription medication at a pharmacy in the USA. However, medication is generally expensive, therefore it is best to keep all receipts in order to claim the costs from the health insurance provider.
There are strict laws about how much prescription medicine that can be brought into the USA. Expats must have a prescription from a doctor to prove that any medicines being brought into the USA are strictly for personal use. If regulations aren't followed, the drugs will be confiscated at customs. Customs officers are very stringent about these laws as people have been caught trying to import large quantities of prescription medication from Canada and Mexico to the USA.
Health insurance in the USA
The USA doesn't require expats to have health insurance. However, it would be wise for expats moving to the USA to invest in the best health insurance policy they can afford or negotiate one into their contract of employment. Anyone without appropriate health insurance in the USA runs the risk of paying colossal bills – or alternatively getting no medical attention.
Long-term treatments are often denied to those without insurance. Dental and optical operations are often not included in general insurance and are both expensive on their own.
Expats who receive any sort of medical treatment in the USA should keep all their receipts in order to make an insurance claim.
Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for the USA
Expats planning on settling down in the USA for long periods of time must undergo a medical exam and will be asked to show proof that their immunisations are up to date. If requirements aren't met, the expat will have to receive the vaccinations during the medical exam. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an up-to-date list of required vaccinations for immigration.
Emergency services in the USA
Emergency medical services in the USA are regulated by individual state governments and, by law, must be provided to anyone in need.
In the case of a medical emergency, dial 911. The operator will then dispatch an ambulance to the location of the emergency. Paramedics in the USA are highly trained and can provide an excellent level of care at the scene of an accident.
Alternatively, expats can make their own way to the nearest hospital with an emergency room for immediate treatment.