When your parents come to the United States, what should you consider in terms of their healthcare?
If they’re here for a short-term visit, such as a six-month stay, short-term health insurance for visitors might be a good option. However, these plans usually don’t cover pre-existing conditions. If your parents have chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, they may need medications and potentially a visit to a clinic or emergency room.
US health insurance is largely employment-based, and due to parents’ immigrant status (B1/2 visitor visa), there are limited options for health insurance. A few possibilities are listed below, but local health insurance brokers may have more information.
- Some employment-based health insurances allow you to add parents as dependents, like VA or Tricare
- Some supplemental health insurance plans offer reduced costs by providing low out-of-pocket expenses
- Some visitor health insurances offer options for acute onset of pre-existing conditions
What if an emergency occurs and your parents are uninsured or under-insured?
- Emergency rooms: By law, all ERs in the US must accept patients regardless of their ability to pay. They will be seen in the ER, but you should expect to receive sizable bills. You can try to negotiate with the billing department later, but it’s never pleasant to receive a bill that could break the bank. If there’s a life-threatening emergency, don’t hesitate to take your parents to the ER.
- Free clinics or fee-scaled community health centers: Different states and cities often have free clinics run by government or charity groups, usually open during regular 9-to-5 hours. If hospitalization is required, hospital social workers can help you apply for emergency Medicaid (depending on the state), which will cover in-patient stay costs.
- Private cash-only clinics: You can find some private clinics in lower Manhattan/Chinatown or Flushing, NY that accept cash for visits.
- Call your primary care physician and see if they can fit your parents into their schedule and charge a reasonable fee based on cash or a fee scale.
- Some cash-based telemedicine services
What about medications?
Your parents can bring enough medication to the United States for the duration of their stay. Alternatively, they can:
- Use low-cost medication programs at pharmacies like CVS, Target, or Walmart
- Use GoodRx for wholesale medication prices
- Ship medications from home through the mail, although Customs may scrutinize packages due to regulations preventing the import of cheaper medications to the US
If you have any experiences navigating the US healthcare system with immigrant parents, share them in the comments section!
n your parents come to the United States, what should you think about regarding their healthcare?
If they come here for a short-term visit, like a six-month stay, a short-term healthcare insurance for visitors could be your choice, but those usually don’t cover for existing conditions. If your parents have chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, etc, they may need medications and maybe some visit to the clinic or emergency room.
US healthcare insurance is largely based on employment and due to parents’ immigrant status (B1/2 visitor visa), there are very limited choices for healthcare insurance. A few options are as belows, but I suspect better knowledge is with local healthcare brokers.
-some employment-based healthcare insurances allow you to add parents as dependents, such as VA or Tricare
-some supplemental healthcare insurance offers some cost deduction by providing low out-of-pocket costs
-some visitor healthcare insurances offer choices for acute onset of pre-existing conditions
So what if an emergency happens and parents are not insured or under-insured?
-emergency rooms, according to law, all the ERs in the US have to accept patients no matter what, so they will be seen in the ER but you are going to expect to receive some bills with large numbers. Well, you can negotiate with their billing department later but it is always not pleasant to receive a bill that may make you broke. But if there is really any life emergencies, don’t hesitate to bring your parents to ER.
-free clinics or fee-scaled community health centers, usually different states and cities have some free clinics run by government or charity groups but they usually open on 9-to-5 regular hours. If they need hospitalization, the social workers at a hospital will help you apply for emergent Medicaid (depends on states), which will cover the costs of in-patient stay.
-private cash-only clinics, you can find some private clinics in lower Manhattan/Chinatown or Flushing, NY that accept cash for visits.
-call your own primary care physician and see if he/she can fit your parents into a schedule and charge a reasonable fee based on cash or fee-scale.
-some cash-based telemedicine services
How about medications?
They can bring enough medications to the United States for the duration of stay.
-some pharmacies provide low-cost common medications like CVS, Target, Walmart’s low-cost Rx program
-use GoodRx for wholesale prices for medications
-use online pharmacy (disclaimer: we are NOT related to those websites and can not guarantee their services or products) to obtain medications such as alldaychemist
-ship medications from home through mail but sometimes the Customs may be scrutinous about that since there are regulations to prevent smuggling cheaper medications to the US
If you have any experience exploring the US healthcare system with immigrant parents, share it in the comments section!