Your healthcare options in the USA

A move to the US will mean leaving the good old NHS behind. We think nothing of having the services of our GP or local hospital ready and waiting for us when we take a turn for the worse. All we have to do is pay a spot of tax each month for the pleasure. But what are your healthcare options once you make the move across the Atlantic? The absence of a public system means things can get expensive, but you get what you pay for in this world and the US system is very good indeed. The OECD ranks the USA 8.9 out of 10 for the health outcomes there, one of the best rankings in the world and way ahead of the UK.

Health insurance

Choose the right health insurance policy and you can rest assured that you and your family will be well looked after. If you are working in the US, talk to your employer first because they may offer subsidised health insurance. It’s common to be offered a range of policies, allowing you to choose the one that suits you best. Insurance covered by your employer will either be fully paid or partly paid, so be prepared to contribute to the cost, or purchase an additional top up – either way you will save a considerable amount.

If you need to pay for your health insurance out of your own pocket, you will be required to pay an average premium of around $300 per month if you’re 35 to 44 years old, or $580 if you’re 55 to 64. The average cost of a family policy is around $830 per month.

The OECD ranks the USA 8.9 out of 10 for the health outcomes there, one of the best rankings in the world and way ahead of the UK.

Co-pays and deductibles

A co-pay is the agreed amount you must pay for the actual healthcare you receive, such as a doctor’s appointment or prescription. Once you have paid this fee the insurance company will be billed for the rest. A typical co-pay rate starts from $25 (£19) for a standard doctor appointment. Because these costs can add up over time, you should carefully consider how often you will need these services when choosing your policy.

A deductible is a type of excess, payable each year as part of your policy. Once you reach this amount in personal payments your health insurance kicks in and you will only have to pay monthly premiums.

Receiving treatment

Once you have an insurance policy in place the next step is finding a doctor. If you choose to use one that is not on the list provided by your insurer, you will have to pay extra.

You will need to be in possession of a valid insurance card in order to receive treatment – even for emergencies – and you will be required to pay a proportion of the costs before being discharged. You will be sent the remaining bill.