The cost of healthcare in the USA is considerable. Therefore, it is essential for any expat to have good health insurance for visitors before going to the USA.
But what are the best solutions, and how to make the right choice?
Health Insurance for Visitors to the United States with a Local Company
The first option is to purchase local insurance to cover your medical expenses in the United States.
What is the Advantage of Choosing an American Insurance?
It may be a good choice if your company offers to cover all or part of your local health insurance premiums.
This is a very common practice among large American companies and can be financially attractive.
However, you should keep in mind that this private health insurance in the USA will only cover your medical expenses in this country.
For care provided in other ones, even during your stay at home, you will not be covered.
Similarly, this type of insurance will never cover the costs and procedures related to repatriation to your home country. And this operation can be very costly.
Furthermore, before making this choice, it is important to look at the guarantees included in the proposed contract.
This is not always easy, as the American health care system is so complex and different from other ones.
Understanding Medical Expenses in the US
Here is an explanation of some important terms to understand the language of health insurance in the USA.
- Deductible: this is the lump sum that remains payable by the insured before the insurance company begins to pay for his care. It is therefore a kind of deductible. In general, the higher it is, the lower the insurance premium;
- Coinsurance: it is a participation, in percentage, which remains with the load of the insured on the part of the expenditure effectively covered by the insurance. It is usually 10 to 20% of the bill;
- Maximum out-of-pocket: this is the maximum annual sum to be paid by the insured. Beyond this amount spent, the insurance company covers 100% of the medical expenses.
Types of Health Insurance in the USA
There are three main types of health insurance in the USA:
- HMO (Health Maintenance Organization): these insurances, often the least expensive, require the choice of a primary care provider. They must be consulted before any visit to a specialist. These policies only cover care provided within their network of practitioners and hospitals. Any service performed outside this network and care pathway will be charged to the insured;
- PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations): they are the most flexible. They do not require a referring physician and they cover part of the medical expenses incurred outside their own network. They are very common in the USA, but their premiums are often higher;
- EPOs (Exclusive Provider Organizations): this private health insurance for the USA is halfway between the two previous types. They do not require a referring physician but only cover care provided within their network.
Health Insurance for Visitors to the USA: Benefits of International Policies
Another possibility to get health coverage in the USA is to use an insurance company from your country. It should be specialized in health coverage for expatriates.
Private Health Insurance for the USA: the First Dollar Policies
Most specialized companies offer so-called “first dollar” insurance.
These insurances cover all your medical expenses (routine care, hospitalization) from the first dollar spent, hence their name.
First-dollar health insurance for visitors to the USA generally covers your health care expenses throughout the world.
It includes your home country and it also has repatriation insurance.
This solution allows you to choose the company and the contract that suit you best in terms of budget and guarantees.
You can also add specific guarantees in the field of health (e.g. maternity/childbirth) or for the expatriate’s daily life (protection of personal effects in case of loss or theft).
These offers are often attractive to expatriates because of their flexibility and good value for money.
In addition, the companies that offer these contracts are those that offer the most services.
They usually have a mobile application that allows you to manage your procedures in a dematerialized way. And it’s easy to get assistance in your language at any time.
These companies are also well-established in the United States. They have partnerships with quality health care networks, which often allow them to benefit from certain advantages.
The most notorious one is the waiver of advance payment in case of hospitalization in a partner establishment.
Health Insurance for Visitors to the USA with Social Security
Social Security from your home country might cover you when you move to another territory.
But this doesn’t always apply. So you will need to get familiar with the system and check if it can be used as valid health insurance for visitors to the United States.
Take in mind that the medical coverage is calculated by taking the costs in your own country as a reference.
And these reimbursements are often insufficient, given the generally high amounts of medical care in the USA.
In addition, the basic Social Security policy is not very flexible and limited in coverage.
For example, repatriation is not covered. So, if you choose it as your insurance, you will have to subscribe to a complementary plan.
Anyways, some expatriates may still find it beneficial to choose Social Security because it does not ask for a medical questionnaire upon enrollment.
It can’t refuse to insure anyone, nor can it apply additional premiums or exclusions of coverage.
Finding the most suitable health insurance for visitors to the USA is far from simple, given the diversity of the offer on the market.
And it’s also necessary to keep in mind the budgetary constraints and specific needs of each person.
To make your choice more easily and without having to approach several insurers, it is possible to use an online insurance comparator.
It will give access to detailed adapted offers and corresponding quotes.
How Much do Medical Expenses Cost in the United States?
Medical expenses in the United States are very expensive. A simple consultation is about 5 times more expensive than in most European countries.
What are the Types of Health Insurance in the USA?
French expatriates can choose between two main types of insurance:
- Local insurance that requires a good command of the English language and the local health care system
- International insurance. The procedures are carried out in your language and are therefore simplified.
Why Should you Choose a Local Company for your Private Health Insurance in the USA?
Choosing local insurance is interesting if your employer offers to pay all or part of the contributions to a plan with a local company.