To people of other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States’ model of healthcare insurance may seem a little perplexing. Unlike their National Health Service (NHS) into which the taxpayer funds the British Government to pay for the resources and equipment, the American health care system is funded by the patient directly, as and when required. The U.S. government will sometimes pay for part of the healthcare, (through Medicare and Medicaid made available for those who can’t pay their hospital bills, like unemployed, younger, or older people) reducing medical costs for the patient is generally down to the health insurers to act as the major player in paying for medication and healthcare providers.

As such, Americans have more of a choice in how their healthcare is paid for, as insurance is offered by multiple providers. Therefore finding the right insurance for your health care needs is a decision that has to be weighed appropriately.

Who is paying for your health insurance?

For most people in the U.S., health care and its associated costs are often covered as a workplace perk, and employers often offer health insurance coverage as an extra incentive for employment. For a large number of people, this will be the most obvious choice for health coverage and will certainly be the easiest one to obtain.

For those who are not as fortunate to have it as a workplace perk, and don’t qualify for the government-subsidized Medicare or Medicaid, health insurance would have to be sought via private insurers. Finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. A search for the right insurance package for you is as simple as completing an online questionnaire and tailoring the coverage to your needs. Comparison websites like iSelect are on hand to help with this selection.

It may be useful to have a list of health care needs, health plans, healthcare providers as well as illnesses or medical conditions on hand to provide your potential health insurance coverage providers, regardless of whether you believe there will be negative impacts to your selection. A number of people in the United States fail to provide these details and fall foul of their private insurers, meaning that the healthcare providers can withdraw treatment until the appropriate health insurance coverage is reinstated.

Is it just for emergencies?

In the United States, if you are in the unfortunate position to require emergency treatment but do not have health insurance, you won’t be turned away by hospitals or doctors. You may be invoiced later, so details would be required, but the Hippocratic Oath overrules any need for payment before treatment.

But what about non-emergency treatment such as visual impairments or hearing loss, or mental health issues that are brought on independently or as a result of these health issues? Are these impairments covered by insurance? The answer is a little more complicated and is neither a straightforward yes or no. Taking the management of hearing loss as an example, in which there are fewer health care providers and more specialists, may explain more as to how policymakers can’t prove to provide a straight answer.

Managing the effects of hearing loss, via screening tests, leading to the use of assistive listening devices like hearing aids, can be expensive. However, the diagnosis of hearing loss is facilitated and falls under the coverage of health insurance, the treatment itself might be as well. Then again, it might not; thus requiring much thought on which provider to enlist.

Has the Coronavirus changed anything?

Joining internet usage, remote working, and unemployment; health insurance claims have increased during the Coronavirus pandemic. But this is a worrying development of the previous year. As health services struggle to cope, it must be noted that job losses can void employment-provided health care coverage. It might be time to contact private insurers and work out a premium that is future proof, as well as comprehensive.