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Navigating the US Healthcare System

The healthcare system is often raised as a major area of concern for those planning a new life in the United States. Read our guide to understanding how to access and pay for US medical care.

Let IAS help reduce some of the stress of relocating to the US. Our team of experienced lawyers can help ensure you are applying for the correct visas or permits and provide guidance throughout the process.

Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 to speak to our experts.

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Overview of US Healthcare Services

Anyone living in the US is required to pay for their own medical care. This can be done directly or via insurance cover.

Arranging healthcare insurance should be a top priority for those moving to the US from overseas as medical treatment is very expensive. US residents can purchase their own healthcare or opt in to a workplace policy provided by their employer.

The exact terms of an employer scheme can vary from comprehensive cover, which fully pays the monthly cost of premiums, to partial cover, where you may be required to pay some of the costs each month.

Many employers will also allow workers to purchase subsidised cover for their family members, which is ideal if you are relocating with dependents to the US.

When you visit a doctor or other healthcare provider, the treatment bill will be sent to your insurance company to settle. Depending on the service and level of cover, you may be required to pay some of the cost. This is called a copayment and you should ensure you budget for this extra payment in addition to insurance when accessing US healthcare.

Reach out to IAS for expert support in moving to the United States.

US Health Care Without Insurance

If you do not have healthcare insurance in place, then you will be expected to pay for treatment directly to the doctor or hospital that provided the care.

It may be possible to get federal or state assistance depending on your circumstances and the area of the US you are located in.

For instance, there are schemes in place to provide support to low-income children, the elderly, people with disabilities and pregnant women.

One example is Medicare, a health insurance scheme for people aged over 65 or those with certain conditions such as renal failure. However, it is only available for permanent residents. To be covered by Medicare without having to pay a premium you generally need to have worked for ten years in the US.

Medicaid is a program for those on a low-income and it covers some healthcare services such as drug prescriptions and visits to the doctor.  

Residents who entered the US before August 1996 can receive Medicaid if they meet the qualifying criteria. However, for permanent residents who moved to the US after August 1996, there is a five-year waiting time before being able to access the scheme.

The Health Insurance Marketplace

For those who do not have employer healthcare insurance and do not qualify for other schemes, the Health Insurance Marketplace is an option for those with official immigration status.

This service gives information on a range of more affordable healthcare providers, financial support packages and details of lower premium cover plans.

Importance of Seeking Treatment Whatever Your Circumstances

Even if you do not have a healthcare insurance policy in place you should seek medical attention if needed.

Most regions have free or low-cost health clinics that will provide vital healthcare for immigrants. Also, the majority of US hospitals are legally required to treat those with urgent medical conditions even if they have no means of payment.

Our lawyers are trained in all areas of US immigration law and can assist you with applying for all kinds of US visas. If you require further advice in starting a new life in the US, our team can help provide tailored support. Call us on +1 844 290 6312 or use our online chat.

Do you need help with your US visa application? Our lawyers can assist you.

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