An International Visitors Guide to the US Health Care System
The US health care system can be hard to find navigate without guidance. Citizens of the to US don't even understand the complexities of the health care situation. If you feel confused and want learn more about the system before you come to America, you have found the right place. This article will help you understand how to work within the American health care system.
Critical Fact 5 - Health Care is in the Private Sector Not Provided by the Government
Unlike many countries, the private sector drives the US health care system. Medical costs are extraordinarily high, and most people either purchase insurance or are provided with insurance. The government provides insurance assistance through the Affordable Care Act, as well as Medicaid for individuals who cannot pay for insurance; employers often cover their employees. International visitors, students, and scholars need to provide their own coverage or be uninsured.
Critical Fact 4 - If You are an International Visitor on a Visa it's a Visa Violation to Accept Government Assistance
If you are in the US on a visa, the conditions of your visa prevent you from accepting government assistance. This would include trying to go on Medicaid, or accepting a government subsidy when purchasing insurance on the individual US Health Care Exchange which is sometimes called Obama Care. If you accept these subsidies, it might hurt your chance of getting a visa for your next visit, extending your visa, or changing your immigration status.
Critical Fact 3 - If You are an International Visitor on a J or F Visa You may be Required to have Specific US Health Care coverage
All United States citizens are required by law to carry health insurance, and all J visa holders are required by the US Department of State to carry coverage. For J visa holders this requirement is often on your DS-2019. For J visa holders many sponsoring institutions also set their own requirements for coverage. To understand your required coverage you can look up your sponsor, or contact us and ask your requirements. We maintain an extensive list of requirements by institution.
It's important to note that J visa sponsors take the insurance requirements very seriously and you can lose your visa for failure to comply with the requirements. Details on the requirements are in the post J1 Insurance Requirements
For F visa holders are not subject to a specific insurance requirement by the US government, but many schools will have specific coverage requirements or the requirement that you have coverage. Look up your school requirements before your buy coverage for the US Health Care system, or contact us and ask your requirements. We maintain an extensive list of requirements by institution.
Critical Fact 2 - If You are an International Visitor on any other Visa You Take a Big Risk Without Insurance
Not having medical insurance opens you up to a lot of risk if you have a medical emergency. Hospitals charges can be shocking for care and in some cases the hospital will not treat someone who does not have the proper insurance or is unable to prove that they can pay. An overnight stay in a hospital costs $2,000 on average without any significant medical procedure or surgery. One day of basic care in the Intensive Care Unit costs $6,000 on average. A trip to the emergency room costs over $1,000. Americans are surprised by these numbers. If you're coming from a country with government provided care you may find these numbers shocking.
Critical Fact 1 - The US Health Care System Provides Excellent Care
When you are in America, you can have access to the best medical care in the world. The money put into the US health care system exceeds that of any other nation. 18% of GDP in the United States is spent on health care - Americans are prepared to pay for the best. If you are an international visitor, student, or scholar you have the opportunity get top treatment. However, you may not have the opportunity to be treated at all if you are not covered. No one wants to get sick or be injured especially when away from home. Still if that happens to you while you are here, it's nice to know that you'll receive some of the best medical care in the world.