What to do if I need medical care during a trip to the U.S.?

esta requirements medical care insurance usa

Medical situations and emergencies can occur anywhere. It is important to remember that if you plan a trip away from your home country, you should have medical insurance.

This is especially valid for trips to the United States, as the medical care situation there is notably different from that of any other country.

After applying for your ESTA, you are strongly recommended to apply for a travel insurance for the United States of America. Should you decided to leave your country without such an insurance might result in costs of over thousands of dollars.

The medical care system in the United States is extremely expensive

The United States together with Canada are two of the countries with highest costs for medical expenses from all around the globe. If you travel to the U.S. with no such insurance, you will be required to pay the costs out of your pocket. It is a fact that there are some welfare hospitals, however, up to now most of them would have gone bankrupt, while others have endless waiting lists for non-emergency visits. This means that if you cannot count on seeing a doctor in the U.S. without paying the respective cost.

Furthermore, bare in mind with very few exceptions, most medical care systems in the States are private. When you purchase a travel insurance abroad, what you are receiving is a private insurance.

Visiting the ER (emergency room) is not free of cost

In the case that you have been in a serious accident and are immediately accepted in the ER, the hospital will still charge you for all treatments costs, to the smallest detail. Consider the fact that simple stitches and a couple of antibiotics can cost over a hundred dollars.

If you are a foreigner who has been accepted in the emergency room of a private hospital, you will be transferred to a welfare one, once the hospital staff sees your expenses are will not be covered by an insurance.

Your national health insurance card is not valid in the U.S.

Many first-time travellers are confused by the doubt whether their national insurance covers any medical expenses in the United States. Remember that the health care policy of your country has nothing to do with the American regulations, even less so for foreign visitors. All national health insurance cards are only valid on the territory of the country from which they have been issued. This means your national insurance card will not be valid when traveling to the United States.

Dial 911 for emergencies

911 is the American national emergency number. Write this phone down, remember it and dial in case of emergencies. However, do not forget that calling an ambulance is also a cost that will be billed to you or the insurance company.

Should you required medical attention with no medical insurance previously purchased, the bill will be sent to you home address (country)

This is the worst case scenario – being charged when already home. However, this will be done should you required medical attention with no financial means to cover the cost of the treatment. If you are not able to pay upfront, nor to make any payments while in the U.S., your personal details will be taken and a bill will be sent to you home country. The payment plan can be discussed in detail while still in the medical center.

Remember that it is of utmost importance to take care of those bills, once you get back home. Avoiding the payments on purpose will result in difficulties, during your next trip to the States.

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