Introduction to US health for expats

Are you moving from Austria to the USA in the next months? Many expats don’t pay attention to the health coverages that they have in the new country, thinking that probably they won’t need them. However, failing to have key health resources in moments of need can have unexpected consequences. Therefore, Crown Relocations would like to give you some brief guidelines before leaving Austria.

Health insurance

If you are moving to the USA, it’s essential that you have adequate supplemental medical insurance. Charges for medical services are very high and insurance rarely covers the entire cost of medical care. Most employed Americans and their families are covered under group health insurance plans provided by their employers, although covered individuals typically must pay a portion of the cost and services offered vary. 

Differences among different companies can be considerable and typically, a company will offer different types of insurance. Depending on the type of insurance carried, the insured may be required to pay as much as 20 percent or as little as the US $10 per visit. Some services - such as prescription medication, vision, and dental - are not covered by all companies.

Finding a doctor

The USA is one of the countries that offers the highest quality of medical care in the developed world, with highly proficient medical professionals. However,  despite having plenty of specialists, there is a need for GPs otherwise known as Primary Care Physicians in much of the country. Primary Care physicians are concentrated in the cities and heavily populated suburban areas, leaving some small towns and rural areas inadequately serviced.

Contacting a physician is usually a simple matter, accomplished by checking either listings in a telephone directory or with a local medical association. The latter will provide several names, typically three, in the caller's vicinity. Your medical insurance may determine which doctor you may use by choosing from a list of physicians by zip code, although you have the option of being treated by someone outside your plan, which is called out of network.  Most medical practices also will accept patients with no medical insurance if they are cash paying customers as well.

Visiting a hospital

Except in emergency situations, admission typically involves completing an admission form, presenting evidence of insurance coverage, signing a consent for treatment, and specifying in what form payment is to be made - i.e., billed to insurance, credit card, or cash. Hospital rooms come with amenities such as access to a telephone and a TV set which may come at an additional cost or is included as part of the hospital visit. Accommodation in most cases will be in a semi-private room, meaning a room shared with one other patient. Private rooms may be available but may come with a premium cost.

If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to contact our Crown team.