05 February 2015
For citizens and residents of the USA, law now mandates that everyone has to have at least the most basic form of health insurance. This dictates that everyone should purchase some type of medical coverage otherwise they may be penalised with a form of tax. This is in reflection to the several health issues in the USA, however, the country is also seeing a financial drop in the capacity of its people in paying for medical health care and thus the new mandate was proposed and passed to ensure that everyone is covered.
Travellers visiting the USA cannot purchase medical insurance. The only people allowed to purchase insurance in the United States are citizens or legal residents – immigrants who have social security, their green card, and have resided in the country for a minimum of at least six months. If you are a traveller visiting the United States for a brief period of time then full medical insurance is not available to you.
It doesn’t mean you cannot purchase other types of medical insurance. It just means you cannot avail of the medical insurance funded by the United States government and many of the insurances funded by the pool gathered from US citizens or legal residents.
This might sound like a poor option for foreigners taking a vacation in the United States but there is an alternative. This is the type of insurance that can keep a foreigner medically safe during their travels in the country.
Travel insurance or visitors insurance is not mandated for all foreigners but it is a quick option to handle health issues while in the USA. Most travel agencies will offer travel insurance in your country of origin and these will often cover the following:
- Medical bills while in the USA
- Medication purchases
- Loss of personal items/luggage
- Expenses due to delayed or cancelled flights
There are a few things not covered in this type of travel insurance. Most health care providers will not immediately include coverage for doctor’s fees, eye care, and dental care. Those might require a higher premium or might have to be paid out of the traveller’s pockets.
One of the few exceptions stands for foreign exchange students. Students who will temporarily live and study in the country may qualify for several types of medical insurance. The only drawback is that they may be required to pay higher premiums or that the coverage available to them is limited and not-inclusive of many expensive amenities such as hospital fees other than for medical emergencies.
Overall, handling health issues while in the USA might seem quite limited and expensive but the upside is that there are still open options. It doesn’t entirely mean that foreigners are completely shut out of medical benefits but these laws and options favour US citizens and residents by a far greater deal.