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Health insurance in the USA

How To Apply For Health Insurance In The USA

When moving to the US, it’s important to understand the US healthcare system and what it entails. Unlike other countries that have free healthcare, healthcare in the US is a prevalent issue due to the high costs and expenses. This issue not only affects American citizens but the millions of immigrants who move there and struggle with healthcare expenses.

This is why private health insurance is crucial for anyone who decides to live in the US. With private health insurance, you can rest assured that your healthcare expenses will be taken care of, without leaving you in debt. For people without insurance, USA healthcare might seem rather mediocre, exorbitantly expensive and sometimes even fully inaccessible. Major operations can easily cost thousands of dollars, and medical treatment is limited for people who can’t afford them.

In the process of moving internationally, many global citizens may forget the importance of private health insurance, or just not know where to start. This is why we’ve done the research for you: what you need to know about the US healthcare system and how to apply for private health insurance in the US.

Why private health insurance?

While the US does not require expats to have health insurance as a requirement for relocation, having private healthcare would be a wise choice in general. Expats can choose to invest in the best health insurance within budget, or negotiate one into the employment contract that they have. Anyone that doesn’t have appropriate health insurance in the USA runs a risk of paying colossal bills or getting no medical attention – especially for expats who are unable to benefit from citizen-based exemptions and schemes. Longer termed treatments are mostly denied to those that don’t have insurance.

Private health insurance policies cover the costs of private hospital fees, as well as other medical expenses such as dental, physiotherapy and other therapies. Even with Medicare, many citizens invest in private health insurance to cover expenses that Medicare excludes.

Without Medicare, you will also be charged for all hospital, ambulance and doctor fees, which can add up to a significant sum. For example, the ambulance you take to the hospital will start at $400. If tests are needed, additional costs of around $100-$500 are a must per test. Also, if you need to spend a night at the hospital, an additional charge of up to $5,000 can be added to your bill. Along with medications to treat your illness, the cost of an emergency room visit in total might be $6,000 or even more. This is why many people take out private health insurance in America, to assure themselves that any medical costs in the future will be covered.

To receive private health insurance, you must purchase a policy from a registered health insurer and pay regular fees to stay insured.

Medicare in the US

Medicare word on tablet screen with medical equipment on background
Medicare word on tablet screen with medical equipment on background

Medicare is essentially a national health insurance program, created in 1965 for people aged 65 and over, regardless of income, health status, or medical history. This program was expanded in 1972 to cover some people under age 65 that have a long-term disability. Unlike other countries, medicare is not freely given to immigrants as well as to people below the age of 65.

There are some exceptions – you will qualify for Medicare even if you are not a USA citizen if you qualify to receive or currently receive Social Security retirement benefits, Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB), or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To learn more about your Medicare coverage eligibility, refer to the official USA government site here.

Medicare in other countries

Emergency and non-emergency healthcare services are usually covered for Australians through Medicare, a universal health insurance scheme that guarantees residents access to health services at low or no cost. The government instilled the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) where foreigners are still able to receive Medicare benefits when living in Australia. The agreement covers 11 countries – Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Finland, Malta, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland and Sweden. It’s important to note that Medicare in the US is different from Medicare available in other countries. While in the US there is an age restriction, Medicare in other countries is available for all citizens.

Private health insurance companies

medical and insurance concept of medicine service goal
healfcare/medical and insurance concept of medicine service goal

1. UnitedHealth

UnitedHealth is especially known for its short term coverage. Founded in 1998, this American multinational is based in Minnetonka, Minnesota provides high-quality healthcare products and reliable health insurance services. It is one of the biggest health insurance providers in the US and has over 70 million clients. If you have an employer-based plan and need temporary extra coverage, short-term health insurance is the perfect way to ensure your healthcare is covered in all the places you need it. It also works with over 1 million physicians and healthcare providers and invests more than $4 billion in technology as well as innovation.


2. CVS

CVS is not just your local pharmacy store. It is the leading health solutions company that provides healthcare coverage of the highest quality. If you’re looking for an affordable and trusted healthcare provider, CVS is the one for you. It has more than 9,9000 retail locations and over a thousand clinics, with also over 23.4 million medical members. CVS aims to provide reliable and efficient healthcare coverage through its health services, plans and over 40,000 physicians.


3. Blue Cross Blue Shield

Founded in 1929, Blue Cross Blue Shield is an ideal provider for individuals working remotely or who do not have employer coverage. It has global coverage and is also available in all 50 states, whether short or long term. Blue Cross Blue Shield has over decades of experience in the healthcare industry, covering millions of workers with high-quality health insurance coverage. It aims to provide high-quality and affordable healthcare coverage so that any individual can have access to healthcare.

Blue Cross Blue Shield

4. Kaiser Foundation

With over 12 million members, Kaiser Foundation has been offering health insurance plans since 1945. Although its coverage is only available in 8 states, Kaiser Foundation is ideal as it offers its own Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to help save health costs, no hidden fees. Kaiser Foundation also operates as a non-profit healthcare organization that covers allergy, audiology, cardiology, occupational therapy, pain management and more. If you’re looking for health insurance in the US, head over to Kaiser Foundation to see if it covers your state.

Kaiser Foundation

Feeling ready to make the big move?

Head over here to begin your journey
Or start ticking off your relocation checklist here

Still unsure?

Learn more about the U.S. here
Explore more destinations here 

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