Health Coverage Guide for Expats
Health coverage is a MAJOR issue in America. More than 59 million people are uninsured in the country, due to extremely expensive rates and programs. Health coverage is needed to have the smoothest admission and discharge in emergency and non-emergency situations. Hospitals have to accept patients in life-threatening situations, by law, but if you are not insured, the bill for the care can and will be astronomical.
Most employers provide health insurance that is automatically deducted from your monthly paycheck. While the company will have a contract with an insurance company, employees get to choose the type of coverage, how extensive it is and how much is deducted. Health insurance through your employer will also cover dental and vision. These are co-pay plans with the employer pitching in anything between 30%-60% of the bill. Take advantage of your company’s health insurance plan as it will usually provide better coverage than if you had to purchase a policy on your own.
There are situations where some employees already have coverage and want to keep what they had prior to getting the job. In these situations, there may be other options available to enable you to waive coverage from the employer. If you run into any issues about your coverage or have questions, you can always speak with a representative at your employer’s human resources department, or call the coverage provider for more information.
For the self employed, or people who are looking for work but have some money, individualized plans are available. These plans are based on your individual health and have a monthly fee that you can pay, like any other bill. Anytime that you make a visit to the hospital, you will have to pay a fee called a “co-pay”, which may be fairly low depending on your coverage. Individual plans are fine tuned to your needs and give you more freedom to choose your plan versus a plan provided by your employer.
When choosing coverage, pay close attention whether you want a HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or PPO (Peferred Provider Organizations) plan. HMO plans are usually less expensive than PPO plans if compared with the same deductibles. On a HMO plan, you choose your primary care physician from your service provider network, but you will need your primary physician’s referral when in need of the care by the specialist. On PPO plan, you can go straight to the specialist inside your network. Deductibles (out of pocket cost) may vary from $500 to $2,000 per year; naturally, the bigger the deductibles the cheaper the monthly premiums will be.
For those who have no health coverage, there are free health clinics or “free clinics” available. There are big differences in amenities, such as very long wait times, smaller facilities, and limited resources, but you still can get the treatment you need. If you need to find a free clinic in your area, you can always search the web on sites such as http://www.yelp.com , http://www.thesabanfreeclinic.org, and http://www.hsfreeclinic.org.
For more information on insurers or to get a quote, refer to the links below:
Health Care Insurers
- Blue Shield of California, http://www.blueshieldca.com
- Anthem Blue Cross, http://www.anthem.com
- Kaiser Permanente, http://www.kaiserpermanente.org/
- United Healthcare, http://www.uhc.com/
For health insurance quotes: