One word, “Disappointing” USA provides expensive medical service; far expensive than other progressive countries however it’s still not up-to the mark due to the errors reported in medical treatments.
Before reaching USA, I will highly recommended that you must have the basic medical and dental checkup + blood tests just in case, if you need any medical treatment, get it from Pakistan before coming to USA or you can end up having empty pockets.
One more thing, if you do not have any arrangement for Medical insurance from your employer after reaching USA then you must buy insurance for yourself and family, either travel insurance or buy it as soon you reach USA, It’s extremely important for you to have health insurance because hospitals charges the patients the highest if they does not have insurance.
Choosing a medical insurance policy for you
It’s difficult but mandatory, even for students health insurance is mandatory and without providing a proof of health insurance university might not let you sit in the class.
For working class, your company will offer you either full medical coverage or split the cost of the insurance with you. The insurance covers you and your family as long as you work for them. If you quit or lose your job, you can keep the same insurance but on your own cost.
Selecting a medical policy is little tricky however you can read an article on Wikipedia that will clear things up for you. Once you get to know the terms of medical or health insurance you can better decide for yourself which one to buy the link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_insurance
The cost of health insurance depends on your age, gender, marital status and previous medical history of your family.
How to get Medication – Over the counter medicine & antibiotics:
You can buy medicines without the prescription; you will only need a prescription for some specific medicines like antibiotics. The medicines available over the counter are with symptoms and ingredients that can help you determine your illness. It seems difficult for the first time choosing a medicine because there are lots of medicines for the same disease or illness. The decision is yours. If you are confused which one to buy you can always ask the pharmacist available in every pharmacy and they are qualified pharmacists with complete knowledge of medicines. The most common pharmacy chains in USA are CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid. You can also find medicines in most departmental stores and grocery stores.
For antibiotics you must have a prescription. We are not use to following the law of presenting the prescription to pharmacist in Pakistan, we sometimes don’t even know we are taking antibiotics but in USA we have to follow some strict rules. Prescribed medicines can be very expensive and most insurance policies do not cover existing medical problems.
If you chose not to visit the doctor for prescription, you can consult the doc or any relative that is doctor on phone (even in other city). The doctor will call the pharmacy and tell them the medicine, your name and details. You will just need to visit the pharmacy with your ID and they will give you the prescribed medicines.
If you have insurance:
You will get emergency aid no matter you have insurance or not, after treatment you claim the bills to the insurance company and they directly pays the bill to the hospitals.
The treatment that is not an emergency one can give you a hard time. One of my friend had a sever toothache, she called a doctor (on her insurance panel) for appointment and the latest appointment available was after 3-4 days. She was unable to bear the pain, took pain killers and waited for 3-4 days to get her turn. Similarly if you are having a routine checkup you might need to wait for 2-3 months for that, it’s not a big deal in USA.
I really missed Pakistan when I got sick for the first time. The insurance policy that I bought cost less per month so for every medical problem resolution I had to give up-to $250 that were too much for a fever consultation. One of the reasons for loving Pakistan is that when ill I just go to the nearest doctor pay 50PKR and have myself checked up. I bought some over the counter medicines that did not treat me well, I changed my medicine after a week and it took me whole two weeks to recover from a simple illness.
If you do not have insurance:
If you do not have insurance then I would recommend you to take care of yourself well so you might never need the medical care. There is another way, for those who fall in low income category, you just have to present the proof of your income and get yourself treated almost free.
To check whether you fall under the lower income group you can consult the website www.cms.hhs.gov for all the details on the medical facilities provided to the poor people.
Free Clinics – The Free Clinics bring health care to people with low income and without health insurance. This includes people who are full or part-time employed; people who are temporarily unemployed due to downsizing, lay-offs, or other factors. These factors may change for free clinics in different cities with different terms and condition; I am mentioning the conditions of one of the free clinic to give you an idea.
- person must be uninsured
- Person must be low-income (Currently most medical programs use 130% level of the Federal Poverty Guidelines)
- The person must be a resident of that particular area where the free clinic is
These free clinics might cost free to as low as $5 per visit that is nothing as compare to the actual cost. To search a free clinic in your area, Google the name of your city and write free clinic with it, you will get the details.