In the United States, if you are not covered by a health insurance plan (medical insurance), you have to pay for health care services yourself. There is no subsidization by the government, and the insurance is bought from either private or public companies. Prior to relocation, it is of utmost importance, as an employee, to know the costs of health insurance. As an employee, you are required to receive various health insurances through your employer without any form of discrimination provided you have a Social Security Number (SSN). At the event of no SSN due to the long wait involved, there are two possible solutions applied, either a policy of David Shield that will provide an appropriate response on the assumption that you do not have an existing situation or a case of pregnancy.
Basically, there are two major categories of health insurance plan:
Group health insurance or
Personal/individual health insurance
Group health plan is provided by your employee, government agency or workers union, with policies of least financial restrictions and serves to provide a more comprehensive coverage than the personal health insurance plan. The health care services covered include: vision, dental care, preventive care, well-baby services, and maternity care. A group health insurance plan may be self funded or fully funded where in the case of being self funded, the employer decides what kind of health care coverage the employee gets while if fully funded, the employee is provided all essential health benefits as required by Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The advantages that accrue from this category of health insurance plan includes: affordability, effective premium payment, enhanced job market/workplace. Its limitations include restriction in insurance options, poor flexible insurance network and complex tax implications.
Personal Health insurance is purchased by the individual from the open market without the employer being involved. This type of health insurance plan is much more expensive than the group plan and has limited coverage.
After the passage of the PPACA law, new essential benefits offered by all healthcare plans include:
Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care (both before and after birth)
The following glossary terms and definitions are commonly used in health insurance and may be different from the terms and definitions used in your own plan.
Maximum payment your plan will pay for covered medical service. It is also known as “eligible expense,” “payment allowance" or "negotiated rate."
A request for your health insurer or plan to review a decision denying you a benefit or payment (either in whole or in part)
Difference between your actual billed amount and the allowed amount. For example, if the allowed amount is $50 and your provider charges $200, you will be billed the remaining $150.
The amount you pay to share the cost of covered services after your deductible has been paid. The coinsurance rate is usually a percentage. For example, if the insurance company pays 80% of the healthcare charge, you pay 20%.
Complications of Pregnancy
Conditions due to pregnancy, labor and delivery that require medical care to prevent serious harm to the health of the mother or the fetus. Morning sickness and a non-emergency caesarean section aren’t complications of pregnancy.
A fixed amount you pay for a covered health care service after receiving the service.
A fixed amount of money you must pay each year to cover eligible medical expenses before your insurer starts paying.
Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
Equipment and supplies ordered by your health care provider for everyday/extended use and may include: oxygen equipment, wheelchairs, crutches or diabetic blood testing strips.
Emergency Medical Condition
An illness, injury, symptom (including severe pain), or condition that is severe enough to cause serious danger to your health if you didn’t get medical attention right away.
Emergency Medical Transportation
Ambulance services used for an emergency medical condition.
Emergency Room Care/Emergency Services
Services used to evaluate and treat an emergency medical condition to prevent it from getting worse.
Health care services that are not covered in your health insurance.
Complaints made to your health insurer or plan.
Health care services such as physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology etc that will help you learn, improve, or keep skills and functioning for your daily living. Examples include therapy for a child who is behind on developmental milestones.
An agreement that covers all your health care services after you pay a premium.
Home Health Care
Health care services you receive in your home.
Services that provide comfort and support in the last stages of a terminal illness for you or your family.
Hospital care that requires admission and an overnight stay as an inpatient.
Hospital Outpatient Care
Hospital care that usually doesn’t require an overnight stay.
Your share in percent, of the allowed amount for covered healthcare services and is also usually lower than in-network covered services.
A fixed amount (for example, $25) you pay for covered health care services to providers in contract with your health insurance or plan. It is usually less than out-of-network co-payments.
Health care services or supplies that meet accepted standards of medicine required to prevent, diagnose or treat an illness, injury, disease or its symptoms.
The facilities, providers and suppliers your health insurer contract with to provide you health care services at discounted rates.
A provider that is not part of a health plan's network of preferred providers. You will see in your policy all preferred, non-preferred as well as participating providers who have contracts with your health insurer.
Your share of the allowed amount for covered health care services delivered by out-of-network providers.
A fixed amount you pay for covered health care services from providers who have no contract with your health insurer.
The highest amount you pay during a year for coverage. It includes deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance in addition to your regular premiums. Beyond this amount, the insurer pays all covered expenses.
Health care services you receive from a licensed medical physician (M.D. – Medical Doctor or D.O. – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)
A benefit your employer, union or other group sponsor provides to you to cover your health care services.
A request where you seek approval from your insurer before receiving certain drugs or services except in an emergency, also called prior authorization, or precertification.
A provider who has a contract with your health insurer to provide discounted services to you.
An amount you and/or your employer must pay monthly, quarterly or yearly for your insurance coverage.
Prescription Drug Coverage
Health insurance that helps you to pay for prescription drugs.
Your drugs and medications that require a prescription by law.
Primary Care Physician
A physician who directly provides your different basic medical services.
Primary Care Provider
Your main health care provider with due certification to serve as your health care home base
Any state certified or accredited physician or licensed health care facility that provides medical care
Surgery and follow-up treatment needed to correct or improve a part of your body due to birth defects, accidents, or medical conditions.
Health care services such as physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology etc that help you maintain, get back or improve skills and functioning for daily living which were lost or impaired when you were sick, hurt or disabled.
Skilled Nursing Care
Services performed or supervised by licensed nurses in your home or in a nursing home.
A provider who focuses on a specific area of medicine or a group of patients to diagnose, manage, prevent or treat certain types of symptoms and conditions.
UCR (Usual, Customary and Reasonable)
The standard amount charged for covered medical services and supplies in your specific geographic area
Care you receive for an illness, injury or condition serious enough for you to seek care right away, but not so severe as to require emergency room care.
When you are feeling under the weather, turn to your kitchen. Home remedies are great not only because they are natural, but also because it is a part of your regular grocery. Food is medicine indeed, especially in Ayurveda, which uses food to get your body back into balance.
Turmeric| Before bedtime, drink warm milk with turmeric and honey. You can add pepper to the mixture too. Turmeric’s antiseptic and antibiotic properties will soothe the cough.
Ginger & Tulsi (Holy Basil) | Mince fresh ginger and boil it in water. You can even add Tulsi leaves. After it cools, strain, mix with honey and drink. Both these ingredients have antibacterial properties that will kill the cough bacteria
Cold and Flu
Lemon| Hot water with lemon and honey will surely cure the sniffles. The vitamin C increases immunity and fights off the bacteria
Cinnamon and Cardamom| Powder these spices, boil it in water and make a tea. Add honey to enjoy the mix. All these ingredients are antiviral and anti-inflammatory.
Salt| It may seem simple, but gargling with salt water will clean out the throat, loosen phlegm and act as an antiseptic
Black Pepper| A decoction of raw honey and pepper will coat the throat and reduce the soreness.
Nutmeg & Saffron | Mix a dash of these into warm milk for undisturbed sleep
Amla (Indian Gooseberry) | This can be consumed diluted as a juice, which will help calm the stomach and heal the inflammation
Jaggery | Ending a meal with jaggery will make the stomach more alkaline, thus reducing acidity. The stomach cools and intestine strengthens due to its high magnesium content.
Constipation & Gas
Ghee | Combined with warm milk, this combination will line the stomach and help you go to the toilet easily
Methi, Saunf, Jeera & Ajwain Seeds (Fenugreek, Fennel, Cumin and Carrom Seeds) | These seeds strengthen the digestion process since they each have enzymes and oils that stimulate the glands that secrete digestive juices
Banana | Its high potassium content binds the stool and relieves the stomach
Buttermilk | Live cultures of dahi (yoghurt) mixed with water will place good bacteria in the gut. You can have it with cooked rice and the starch will reduce the symptoms as well
Pudina (Peppermint)| Menthol’s strong scent, anti-cramping and cooling effect on the nervous system helps in natural nausea relief. You can consume it raw or boil the leaves.
Neem | Apply neem leaf paste made from crushing and boiling the anti bacterial leaves to cure acne
Papaya | Leave on a mask of squashed papaya for a few minutes on the affected area to get rid of the pimples, unclog pores and cool the affected area.
Bruises, cuts and stings
Potato| Raw shredded potatoes will reduce inflammation and their moisture will heal the area quickly
Coconut Oil | Using this will prevent scarring, and its anti-fungal properties can heal wounds too.
Aloe Vera | The cooling effect of Aloe Vera will reduce the itchiness. Consider growing the plant at home so you have easy access to a pure source
Hair and tooth ailments
Henna | Used for natural cooling and coloring, henna leaves strengthen and condition the hair
Curry leaves | These leaves can be used while cooking, but also can be added to oils to stimulate hair growth
Cloves | Chew on cloves to reduce toothache, bad odor and kill bacteria
Garlic | Garlic can be consumed if you have cavities or tooth decay. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties promote oral health, but make sure you brush after you apply the crushed garlic paste on the affected area.
Try these natural remedies and you won’t be disappointed to see your kitchen turn into a pharmacy.
What is the maxim amount the insurance will pay in various situations? Is there an amount that you will have to pay every time you visit the doctor/avail a medical service? At what point will you stop paying out of pocket?
Comprehensive or Fixed coverage
Comprehensive policies cover many more instances of medical assistance and hence cost more. Fixed coverage is for very specific instances and have higher deductibles and co-pays, but lower costs per month. What works best for you?
Are you suffering from health issues that exist prior to buying the policy? Are they covered by the policy?
Cancellable or renewable policies
In case your trip is cut short, is there a cancellation fee? Can you get a refund for the remaining duration of the policy? Similarly, if your trip is extended, can you renew the policy for the additional period?
Multi trip coverage and joint coverage for both parents
If you are travelling to and fro, multiple times within your visa duration, can the policy cover all trips? Will it be cost effective to purchase the same policy if both parents have different health issues?
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) or Out of Network coverage
If you have a specific doctor in mind, or is most conveniently located, who does not accept this insurance, what will be the repercussion? How do I find doctors within the PPO network?
Customer care support
What is the customer care number if you have/don’t have a local US number? Is it toll free/24*7? How do they handle disputes/grievances?
Process of claims, refunds, billing, paperwork
What is the step by step process that I should follow from when I need to go to a doctor to when the medical treatment is completed? What forms do I need to fill?
It is better to buy medical insurance from a US provider because of customer care availability at US hours and direct billing by the doctor to the insurance company. However, if you still feel that Indian
companies are easier to communicate with and lighter on the wallet, you have options like Bajaj Allianz, SBI, TATA AIG, HDFC Ergo, Bharti AXA, Future Generali and Apollo. Some of the top plans for parents visiting the U.S. include Patriot America Plus, CoverAmerica - Gold, Atlas America, Liaison Travel Choice and Patriot America, as they all feature excellent PPO networks, reliable comprehensive coverage, and coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions.
Insubuy.com (US) and Policybazaar.com (India) are reliable portal to get quotes and compare policies. If the terms used are confusing, ensure you get it clarified and also explain the same to your parents. You do not have to do any medical tests prior to coming to the US, but if you have recent medical reports that may help the doctor assess your case better, carry that along as well.
Ensure that your parents have all the documents and payment options handy in case they have to deal with a medical emergency, and prepare them mentally. The groundwork is worth the peace of mind so both you and your parents can enjoy their time in the US. Health is priceless after all!