The U.S. Healthcare System
The United States has no single nationwide system of health insurance. Health insurance is purchased in the private marketplace or provided by the government to certain groups. As a result, the U.S. government recently created a new legislation called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The ACA impacts only U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens (“Green Card Holders”). This new law requires that all U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens obtain health insurance coverage. In addition, the new law required changes to the level of coverage offered by each insurance carrier. Some of the changes include: coverage for pre-existing conditions and free preventive care. Therefore, if you are a U.S. citizen or Resident Alien, please ensure that you are purchasing a health insurance plan that is ACA compliant.
The United States is one of the leading nations in terms of medical treatment for various diseases and conditions. As a result, the cost of medical treatment in the United States is quite expensive. Since there is not a single nationwide system of health insurance, the cost of medical treatment is the responsibility of the individual needing medical treatment. Many medical providers see patients without health insurance as “cash patients.” This means that if an individual does not have insurance and needs a physical exam that costs $500 USD, then the individual needs to pay the full amount of $500 USD. As you can see, the cost of medical services can get expensive quickly depending on the services being rendered (example: maternity care, treatment for heart conditions, cancer treatment, etc.)
For individuals visiting the United States, one way to offset the medical cost if you saw a doctor or visited a hospital and received medical care, is to buy a health insurance plan that is comprehensive here in the United States. If you are here in the United States under a J1/J2 visa, the U.S. Department of State requires you to obtain health insurance coverage that meets their requirements. Failure to obtain health insurance coverage could result in immediate deportation back to your home country. However, the U.S. Department of State requirements are the minimum level of health insurance coverage a person holding a J1/J2 visa must have, it does not guarantee that all of your medical costs will be covered.
If you are visiting the United States, it is very important that you obtain a comprehensive health insurance plan that will actually cover a lot of your medical cost if you were ever in need of medical attention. A lot of J1/J2 visa holders make the mistake of buying the cheapest health insurance plan based on the cost per month. However, when they actually need the health insurance to pay their medical bills, in most cases the medical bills are denied by the insurance company due to the lack of comprehensive coverage.
At Gallagher Benefit Services (GPA), we only recommend quality health insurance plans here in the United States. GPA will not sell or promote health insurance plans that will not benefit you or your family. Our main concern is that everyone receives a comprehensive medical plan, so when you need to access medical care, you are not worried about the medical bill, but focused on your well-being.