Health Tips in the US




The American healthcare system is among the best in the world. Quality healthcare delivered by trained medical professionals at world class facilities are all found in hospitals and clinics across the country. All this quality comes at a price.

There is no such thing as the free treatment offered by any component of the American healthcare system, and health insurance is a necessity.

"Health insurance in the US is more terrible and awful than its reputation. It is expensive and unhuman. International health plans for expats in the US are so pricy that it is better to go with a local health insurance." - Severine Dehon, Expat in Kansas


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America has a network of well-equipped and staffed hospitals, even in the remotest parts of the country. Private hospitals offer the best treatment and can be quite expensive. The cost of a hospital room alone can amount to over $ 1000 per night, not including medicines, treatment or tests. For most treatments, a general community hospital should suffice and for serious illnesses and major surgeries a university hospital or specialized clinic is recommended.

There is no such thing like "free" treatment in American hospitals even in case of an emergency. Do not make the mistake of coming to America without adequate health insurance. If you don't have health insurance, you may have to pay a large deposit to even be admitted to a hospital.  


America has a number of qualified and well-trained doctors. It is a common practice to have a primary care physician who refers you to a physician as and when required. Most doctors (even GPs) in large cities specialize in one or two areas such as internal medicines, paediatrics, gynaecology and family practice. 

Always take an appointment before going to see a physician. On your first visit, you will have to fill out a form with your name, address, social security number and health insurance related information. When you go to see a doctor, you will have to pay the bill first and then file for reimbursement. Use emergency facilities only in the event of an emergency.  

In big cities, you will be able to find doctors who speak foreign languages like Spanish and Chinese. Otherwise, you could look up the Yellow Pages or contact your embassy for a list of doctors who speak your native language.  

Dentists in America usually have private practice and dental care is very expensive. 


Healthcare in the US is rather pill-centric. Medications can be purchased at pharmacies, drug stores, stores like Wal-Mart, CVS, Winn Dixie, Walgreens, Eckerd and Publix, hospitals and grocery stores. There are two categories of medications in the country: prescription drugs and freely available drugs. Doctors' prescriptions must be taken to the pharmacy and the pharmacist dispenses medicines against the same. Prescription laws in the US are very strict, and very often one finds that drugs that are freely available in other countries can only be purchased against prescriptions here. Some painkillers can be purchased without a prescription. If you have health insurance, the cost of prescriptions drugs will be paid for by your company, though a nominal fee for each drug may apply. Prescription drugs can be very expensive in America and insurance policies usually do not cover medication for existing medical conditions. Pharmacies are open for business from 9 am to 9 pm seven days a week.  

Emergency Numbers

General Emergency Number: 911 

In Case of an Emergency

In case of an emergency, dial 911 to call for an ambulance. Emergency services in the US are very efficient and quick to respond. If you are physically able to, head for the emergency section of the nearest hospital. Remember, emergency treatments are not free. For medication needs in an emergency keep a list of emergency pharmacies that are open outside business hours handy. These lists will be published in local newspapers and the Yellow Pages. Certain cities have 24-hour house call services that will send a doctor to your home.