The Healthcare System in the United States

President Obama healthcare

The healthcare system in the United States is internationally known, but not always for the right reasons. Many of its services are world-leading and much of its training of doctors is held to a high standard. If you’re planning to move to the United States, it’s worth knowing a bit more about the healthcare system, including how you access it as an immigrant.


The Healthcare System in the United States


Unlike many other leading countries, the US healthcare system is a privately owned and free market system. In short, this means that hospitals and healthcare facilities are for-profit.

It stands in contrast to places like the UK and Canada, where the healthcare system is public and free at point-of-use. Other countries, such as France, have subsidized healthcare systems. Citizens pay something for medical care, but it’s much less than the service costs.

The United States isn’t the only country that operates on this kind of structure. But, it’s easily the most expensive healthcare system in the world, thanks in part to the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the government. Although the country’s services are amazing, they’re more expensive than they need to be.

How to Pay for the Healthcare System in the United States


In the US, you typically access healthcare through insurance. Many people get this through their employer or a family member’s employer. You pay a monthly amount for insurance and then pay when you access healthcare services.

Most Americans rely heavily on health insurance, which has led to the supremacy of insurance companies. According to 2008 research, 33% of the overall health expenditures were paid by private health insurance while only 11% came from out-of-pocket payment.

Health insurance in the USA is mainly distributed by the country’s private sector. However, this means that if you don’t have a job, you typically can’t get medical insurance. As of 2007, almost 15% of Americans cannot get any insurance.

Although nothing is physically stopping you from accessing any medical facilities in the US, you may have trouble affording them. For example, somewhere like the Mayo Clinic is expensive, even by rich people standards.

Medical insurance has coverage rules that often state what level of access it’ll pay for. A policy may cover one type of drug for a condition but not another, for example. As a patient, you’re not really expected to know this, but it’s helpful to read the finer print in your insurance policy.


Medicare and Medicaid


If you’re not eligible for employer healthcare, you might qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare is a social insurance program, meaning it’s funded by the federal and state governments. Medicaid is a similar program but is designed for younger people with limited income.

Despite these programs being aimed at low-income and retired people, there is usually some money to pay. Granted, amounts are lower than on other insurance policies, but it can still be difficult for people without much money.

Most lawful permanent residents qualify for healthcare in the United States. It might either be through your employer or through one of the social insurance programs.


Pros and Cons of the Healthcare System in the United States


Healthcare in the United States is a complex topic. If you’re moving to the country, it’ll help to discuss it with a professional so you know your rights and eligibility. It can be unique to your situation, meaning it’s impossible to cover all aspects here.

It’s fair to assume you have another reason for moving to the US, as few people travel there for its healthcare services alone. To help you get a better picture, here are the pros and cons of healthcare in the United States.





Medical training in the US is held to a very high standard (mainly because there’s so much money involved). The country’s doctors certainly know their stuff, but there’s always a very large bill attached to visiting specialists.


World Leading

The USA has many excellent medical research systems like Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic. Such health systems also conduct valuable research regarding health technology and drugs. The USA health system is successful for its quick health care delivery systems and economics.


Short Waiting Times

A limiting factor in public healthcare is the waiting times. This isn’t usually the case in the US due to the number of specialists and the amount it costs to see them.


Plenty of Resources

The competitive markets of the health system in the USA increase economic efficiency and improve resources. Granted, some companies have a monopoly on medication, there’s at least plenty to go around. The healthcare system in the US might be lacking some things, but medication isn’t one of them.




Economic Disparity

The healthcare system in the United States favors companies and the rich over everyday people. It leads to minorities and the unemployed not having insurance. Therefore, they are not capable of getting any medical services.

On the other hand, people with high incomes mostly pay their medical fees using pre-tax income. Some wealthy people and firms in the USA get a ‘tax break’ in order to access different medical services. For example, some companies have to pay health insurance instead of paying the tax for their employees.


Healthcare is Expensive

There’s no point saying otherwise: the healthcare system in the United States is expensive. It’s almost impossible to understand unless you’ve seen someone’s hospital bill. For example, in California, you can expect to pay more than $3,000 for a single day in hospital. Granted, your insurance covers most of this, but it’s still expensive.

This is why insurance is a must. Unfortunately, it leads to issues with people who don’t have insurance denying necessary procedures. So, if you’re moving to the US, make sure you have some medical cover.


Government Control the Healthcare System in the United States

Governments will always be involved in national healthcare. However, in the US, federal involvement is patchy. It accounted for only 47% of the $2.3 trillion spent on several health care products and services. The rest came from private companies.

On the other hand, the government has the power (in theory) to end public insurance services. For example, Trump tried to end Medicare and Medicaid during his presidency, although he didn’t succeed.

Also, there are numerous other conditions for accessing healthcare in the US. In 2015 a new health card system came out. You can read more about it here


Conclusion on the Healthcare System in the United States

Overall, the healthcare system in the United States has plenty to offer. Providing you know how to access it, you’ll have world-leading services at your disposal.

But, the system isn’t really designed for the poor, unemployed or minorities. If you’re moving to the US for work, always make sure you understand what healthcare options your employer offers, and whether it applies to your family.

We recommend you have a look at for the information.


2021 Obamacare Open Enrollment Dates by State

Some states have extended their open enrollment periods to start before, and in some cases, end after the national Obamacare open enrollment period. These states do not use the federal marketplace and instead have state-run marketplaces. Keep in mind that not all states with state-run marketplaces have extended open enrollment periods, so you’ll need to check the deadlines for your state.

For more information about 2021 Obamacare please visit



If you need more information about the Healthcare System in the United States or are interested in living and working in the United States then please Contact our Immigration Support or apply for the Diversity Visa Program using the official paid immigration application service link below.

The Healthcare System in the United States

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