Find out how the United States system works

The cost of medical care in the United States is very high and there is no national health system as such. However, there is a public system for certain categories of people that is divided into two different programs: Medicaid and Medicare.
Medicaid targets people and families in need (11% of the population), while Medicare covers people over 65 and disabled (15% of the population).
The rest of the population has no choice but to purchase private health insurance through their company or in their personal capacity.
Many Americans are not covered by insurance because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not so much as to afford private health insurance.

In 2009, with a view to establishing a “fairer” healthcare system, President Obama introduced a reform of the American healthcare system (ACA, Affordable Care Act). The reform has been phased in and its goal is to provide all Americans with access to health care and a basic degree of health coverage. 

Go to the doctor in the United States

American generalists see you in your office or in private clinics, usually Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Some clinics are also open on Sundays.
If you have contracted medical insurance, you can only go to a doctor belonging to the medical chart of your private insurance. The doctor in question will become your GP.
During the consultation you will be attended by a nurse who will take your blood pressure, ask you if you are taking medication and ask you to describe your symptoms. You will then wait until the doctor listens to you in a passenger compartment. Doctors usually see several patients at once, and consultations only last for a few minutes (10 or 15 minutes at most).
The price of the consultation depends on whether you are insured or not. So, don’t be surprised that one of the first things you are asked about when you make an appointment is if you have health insurance and which one, since the price differs depending on the policy you have contracted. For the same consultation the price varies between $ 80 and $ 300.

Specialists in the USA


If you suffer from a more specific pathology, your GP will refer you to a specialist in your private insurance medical chart. Medical professionals are called in-network doctors in English. If you go to a specialist without a referral from your GP or from a specialist outside of your medical chart, it is very likely that your insurer will grant you a lower refund.
As with generalists, the price of the consultation can vary quite a bit. The consultation of a specialist is almost always more expensive than that of a generalist. The price can start from a minimum of $ 150 and go up to excessive amounts (about $ 300 for a consultation).

Hospital admission in the USA

American Hospitals American
hospitals have high-quality technology, instruments and medical care.

There are three types of hospitals in the US:

Public hospitals, where you can be admitted without insurance, but they are not free. If you don’t have insurance to cover you and the medical expenses you have to pay are considerable, the hospital may allow you to pay in installments. In any case, you will have to pay 100% of the invoice.

American private hospitals
As in general consultations, they will ask for your insurance card before attending you. The consultations are carried out the same as in the general practitioner: first a nurse will attend you and then the doctor will auscultate you (or the planned surgical operation will be performed, if applicable). In general, there are also emergency services to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible and to be referred to the appropriate department based on the diagnosis.
Later they will send you the invoice for said service, which is usually very high.

Outpatient clinics work the same as generalist consultations. The United States has more and more outpatient clinics. They are somewhat cheaper than hospitals and also provide urgent care.

In an emergency in the US, call 911 for quick intervention.

Purchase of medication in the USA

The drugs are bought in pharmacies, which are usually inside supermarkets, and in different chain stores. There are many pharmaceutical chains in the U.S.
Like consultations, drugs are very expensive. The cost of generic drugs is usually lower, but for them to be sold they have to be expressly stated in the prescription.
In the US, drugs are shipped on a personalized basis – you’ll get the exact number of pills or capsules you need based on the length of your treatment.
Like over-the-counter drugs, they can be bought at specialty stores and supermarkets.