In the United States, unless you have a health insurance plan, also known simply as medical insurance, you will have to be paying for the services yourself. Considering the high costs of healthcare in the country, this may leave you exposed to the kind of debt that would take an entire life to pay off. There are two main ways to obtain health insurance in the US: you can either buy an individual health insurance plan or pay into the one offered by your employer. Health plans can be of three main types: fee-for-service, HMO and Preferred Provider Organizations, although there may be some other ones.
Fee-for-service health plans represent the most traditional kind, where health insurance companies pay for the services provided to people covered by their policy. In most cases, you can choose a doctor or change them as often as you like, as well as visit any hospital in the country. However, the insurer pays only a part of your hospital and doctor’s bills, while you have to pay premiums (monthly fees) and deductible (an amount you pay every year before the insurance kicks in).
Health Maintenance Organizations offer prepaid health plans that require monthly premiums, in exchange giving comprehensive health care to the insured and the family members, including therapy, emergency care, surgeries, lab tests, doctor’s visits and hospital costs. Small payments for doctor’s visits are usually applied, such as $5 for a doctor’s visit or $30 for emergency treatment.
Preferred Provider Organizations combine the traditional kind of health insurance called fee-for-service and a Health Maintenance Organization. There is usually a limited number of doctors you can go to and hospitals to select, but most of your medical bills are covered. The advantage of this one is that you do not have to fill out forms, merely carrying a card with you, as long as the doctor or the hospital are in the network you can select from.
Individuals with health care plans are expected to pay fees, either monthly or quarterly to make sure they have medical coverage for the time medical assistance is required. When this happens, the organization that issued health insurance will pay the entire fee or its part depending on the health plan you purchased.
Most Americans are covered through their job (which includes coverage for family members of the employed person). Employer-supported group health coverage is lost when the family member insured leaves the job. However, there is often the possibility to continue the coverage for at least 18 months. Individual health insurance plan costs can vary depending on the provider you choose and may not offer that many benefits if compared to group health insurance plans. It’s therefore always best to contact the company you would like to purchase health insurance from to compare different policies, find out more about benefits and costs.