What is unique about the U.S. healthcare system is that there is no single national medical care program or national insurance program for paying individual’s medical costs. Health care in the U.S. is provided by many distinct organizations. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses. There are national insurance programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Veterans Health Administration) that guarantee access to health insurance for qualified individuals.
Employer-sponsored insurance represents the main way in which Americans under the age of 65 receive health insurance. Employers provide health insurance to employees and their dependents as part of the benefits package for employees. Otherwise, individuals can buy health insurance on their own. The remainder of individuals is uninsured. Either way, it is important to understand that health care costs in the U.S. are extremely high. Insurance pays for some medical expenses, but no plan readily available covers all medical expenses.
Need for Health Insurance
The purpose of health insurance is to help individuals pay for care. It protects individuals financially in the event of an unexpected serious illness or injury that could be very expensive. Individuals need health insurance because they cannot predict what medical bills will be. In some years, costs may be low. In other years, medical expenses may be very high. Having health insurance protects individuals from most of these costs.
Coverage Provided by Health Insurance
Foreign Nationals not covered through their home country are offered a choice of insurance plans. The coverage afforded by different health insurance policies varies. Literature accompanying each policy describes what costs the policy covers. Be sure to read this information carefully. For example, if a policy does not cover skiing-related injuries and an individual is injured while skiing they will have to pay all the costs of the injury. If you select a health insurance plan from National Jewish Health, the Human Resource department is available to help in understanding plan coverage. Also, consider talking to other Foreign Nationals for advice on selecting a health plan. See the Foreign National directory under “Resources and Government Links”.
Pre-Natal and Maternity Care
Prenatal care in the U.S. is offered to women with the goal of providing regular monthly check-ups to detect, treat and prevent potential health problems throughout the course of the pregnancy. Check-ups consist of various tests to ensure that mother and child are healthy. Deliveries usually take place in hospitals.
All health insurance plans through National Jewish Health offer coverage for prenatal care, including a choice of doctors for monthly check-ups and hospitals for delivery. Without insurance, a private physician’s fee for a delivery without complications, including prenatal and postnatal check-ups and the hospital fee, is approximately between $9,000 and $15,000.
Emergency Health Services
In the U.S., patients with an illness or injury that is life threatening should visit the nearest hospital emergency department. . If moving a patient could cause further injury, dial 911 to contact local emergency services for assistance assessing and transporting a patient.
Patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant a visit to an emergency department should visit an urgent care center. Urgent medical conditions are cases that are not considered emergencies but still require care within 24 hours. where patients can receive care on an unscheduled, walk-in basis. Health care delivered in an urgent care facility is usually less expensive than receiving care in an emergency room.