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What To Expect of US Medicine?

Medicine in the USA

The United States occupies a leading position in the world in terms of health care expenses, the effectiveness of medical research, confidentiality and respect for patients, the timeliness of care and patient satisfaction. Every year, hundreds of people from all over the world come to be treated in American clinics.

Medical insurance

There is no compulsory health insurance in the United States. The costs of medical services are the responsibility of each individual person. Most Americans have insurance. Many people receive it from employers, some get it on their own or use government programs.

Medicaid is available for low-income citizens, Medicare is available for people over 65. The services of the remaining categories of the population are covered by 3 other types of insurance:

  • for individuals;
  • for large enterprises;
  • small (from 2 to 50 people) enterprises.

The cheapest insurance is $300 per month. There is a penalty for lack of insurance – $94 per person per year.

One of the insurance options for US residents is the High Deductible Health Plan. It is offered for those who can afford to pay significant amounts every year but want to protect themselves from the busting expenses of severe diseases. This insurance costs about $70 per month. The employer pays another $200 per month for insurance and also gives the employee $500 per year for medical expenses. In addition, there is a special account (Health Saving Account), when you can save $3,100 per year before taxes. This reduces the tax base and the final amount of taxes.

Insurance does not cover everything, but only a limited list of medical services. This does not include, for example, the services of a dentist, ophthalmologist, pediatrician and psychiatrist, and many other specialists.

Those who are not residents of the USA cannot buy insurance available to US citizens. It is not necessary to buy a policy to enter the country, but many prefer to do so since medical services in the USA are expensive. Foreigners can buy visitor health insurance. It covers accidents and treatment of certain diseases that arose during their stay in the country.


Insurance usually covers the cost of drugs, most of which, in particular antibiotics. These are medications available only by prescription. Without a prescription, you can buy many painkillers, antipyretics, allergy medications, colds, and other drugs.

Medicines in the states are expensive. For comparison, an annual supply of medications in the United States costs more than $1.000, in neighboring Canada – about $100. In most cases, importing medications for personal use in the United States is prohibited.

The most famous pharmacy chains are Walgreens and CVS. Medications are sold not only in pharmacies but also in supermarkets.

Hospitals and medical services

In the US there are both public (about 20%) and private hospitals. In the hospital, the patient does not need to immediately pay fees. Doctors transfer bills after the examination has been completed.

A doctor’s visit with insurance costs $20–25 (this amount is paid by the patient, an insurance company pays about $130 more). Uninsured patients pay about $150 per appointment. Uninsured patients have to wait a long time for help in lines.

A day in the emergency room with a full examination (tests, ECG, MRI, etc.) costs $250 for insurance owners and about $670 for uninsured. In addition, you need to pay $130 for the work of a doctor.

A complete blood test costs $80–150, an X-ray costs $200–300 (without insurance). The operation to remove the appendix costs $30.000 (with insurance – at least $3.000). The cost of getting a filling is about $300. Given the high costs of dental services, in Los Angeles, for example, it is considered normal to visit Mexico or Cuba for dental treatment. Childbirth for foreigners costs $20.000-30.000. The services of a family doctor cost about $20 per hour.

Emergency help

911 is used to call an ambulance. As a rule, doctors arrive quickly – within a few minutes after the call is received.

In Washington, the average cost of calling an ambulance and a trip to the hospital costs from $400 to $700, in Chicago – from $900 + expenses for a trip to the hospital, in New York – up to $1,290 (plus $12 for every mile).

Medical tourism

Most often, patients come to the United States for the treatment of cancer and gynecological diseases, organ transplants, orthopedic surgeries. There are foreigners choosing the United States for childbirth because when a child is born in the country, the infant automatically receives American citizenship. As a result, parents can subsequently obtain a residence permit.