Which USA health insurance to choose?

Whether you want to study abroad, expatriate or do an internship abroad, it is important to be up to date with the administrative procedures. It is also important to plan for health care. In the USA, the formalities can be restrictive and the care very expensive. You should choose a good American health insurance.

Here are all the keys to choosing your health insurance, finding out about reimbursements of expenses but also about all the insurances available for other concerns (repatriation insurance, student insurance, medical repatriation or repatriation of the body in case of death, etc.).

Health care in the USA, a significant cost

Health care is very expensive in the USA, and is much more expensive than in our European countries, so you have to be very careful about choosing a good health insurance.

If you don’t want to go into debt, consider that the cost of medical care can be very high and that the amount of reimbursement varies greatly depending on your health insurance company.

According to various sources, health care and medical expenses take up about 15% of the average American family’s expenses and are among the leading causes of debt and personal bankruptcy for Americans. You will most likely miss the European Health Insurance Card if you have a health concern in the United States.

It is therefore recommended to be aware of this situation and to make arrangements to cover all eventualities. It is necessary to take out health insurance or travel insurance in the USA, whether you are going on a long or short stay with an ESTA.

The different types of American health insurance

Obamacare, private financing, state financing, or employer financing are all options available to individuals for health coverage. It is also possible to opt out of U.S. health insurance by using an international insurance policy.

What are the differences between all these insurances?

U.S. Government Funding: Medicaid and Medicare

Medicare and Medicaid are two health insurance systems run by the U.S. government. The first, Medicare, is intended, according to certain criteria, for people over 65 years of age (regardless of income) as well as for people with certain disabilities.

The second, Medicaid, was created to provide health insurance to low-income individuals and families. Different profiles of people can benefit from it, such as low-income parents, children, people with disabilities or the elderly.

Both of these programs are, of course, intended for American citizens.


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare”, is a law passed in 2010 by former President Barack Obama. This law was created to reform the U.S. health care system, requiring all Americans (and permanent residents) to have health insurance. Its goal is to reduce inequality by making access to health care universal and thus enabling millions of Americans to have social coverage and health insurance.

It allows people who do not qualify for U.S. government health coverage, or whose employers do not provide health insurance, to obtain coverage. The Obamacare law allows people with modest or middle-class incomes to obtain health coverage without breaking the bank.

Private financing

There are a number of private U.S. health insurance companies that operate like mutual health insurance companies. Beneficiaries must pay a monthly contribution with an amount calculated according to the health risks against which a person wants to be insured.

Private financing includes Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Indemnity Insurances (IIs). HMOs bring together the insurance company and the health care delivery system under the same organization. The IIs are private insurance companies and offer their services based on the probability of the damage occurring.

Employer funding

If you are traveling to the United States for employment or an internship in the U.S., you can apply for expatriate insurance related to your place of employment. Your employer is of course not obliged to accept, so before accepting a job in the USA, take this criterion into account.

There are also Preferred Providers Organizations (PPOs) which are private insurance companies that offer employees social coverage through the company they work for and reimburse expenses related to various health situations. The monthly fee will therefore be paid by the company. PPOs pay for consultations, medical expenses and hospitalization costs for their beneficiaries.

International Insurance

International insurances are generally more advantageous and simpler than American insurances and offer the possibility to choose one’s doctor, contrary to most American insurances which use a defined network of doctors.

Be aware that with the implementation of Obamacare, some international insurances are no longer compatible with the American system (you risk paying a fine in case of control).

Which health insurance should I choose to travel to the USA?

As we have seen before, there are many different types of insurance that are specific to each profile and situation. Medical assistance and health insurance services vary depending on the applicant, their needs and income.

As a migrant or traveler to the United States, you have the option of purchasing PPO, HMO or II insurance. Your choice between these different insurances will depend on your needs, your budget, but also on the real risks incurred.

You can also take out international or American insurance. You will need to spend some time on an insurance comparison so that you don’t choose the first insurance that comes along that might not fit your needs.

To make your choice, you will have to look at different elements of the insurance contract, such as “Cospay” (amount remaining to be paid), “out of pocket maximum” (the maximum ceiling to be paid), “deductible” (the deductible), “exclusions” (situations where the insurance does not apply) but also the mention “network”, which informs about the network of partner doctors. By analyzing these mentions, you will be better able to know the social and health coverage that is offered.

To avoid any problems, it is recommended to take a total coverage (medication, repatriation assistance, hospitalization and care included) knowing that, in some situations, it is less expensive to be repatriated to your country for treatment.

Make sure you check with your insurers before your trip to the USA so that your stay goes well and your health expenses do not explode.

It is also recommended to inquire about home insurance, travel assistance (to protect your personal belongings against loss or theft), legal assistance and trip cancellation insurance. Some insurers or insurance brokers such as Chapka assurances or Allianz travel (formerly Mondial assistance) offer grouped packages.

Also note that in some cases, your Visa or Mastercard Gold may also cover you.