In the United States, medical care is highly advanced and can miraculously save lives, even in the event of a serious injury or illness. However, with excellent medical care comes the often surprisingly steep costs associated with emergency treatment in the U.S. A stay in a hospital can quickly rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills, which is why health insurance coverage is critical to protect yourself from financial stress.
If you are visiting the United States from abroad, luckily there are options for you when it comes to medical coverage in the form of US visitors insurance. Travel medical insurance offers temporary medical coverage during your stay to help protect you from exorbitant costs you may face in the event of a new injury or illness. Without adequate health insurance, here are the top five most costly medical services in the U.S. that can end up burning a hole through your wallet.
ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
The ICU, or intensive care unit, is a segment of a hospital that specializes in managing severe and often life-threatening injuries or illnesses, such as a severe case of COVID-19 or an injury incurred from a car accident. Patients receiving treatment in an ICU typically need around the clock monitoring as vitals need to be constantly checked and medication needs to be administered. Additionally, particular equipment and machines are utilized such as ventilators, feeding tubes, and vital sign monitoring devices.
Due to the specialized nature of ICU care, medical bills for a stay in this area of the hospital can be extremely high. The exact cost of treatment received in the intensive care unit of a hospital will vary depending on a number of factors, including the severity of care needed such as whether ventilation is needed, the length of stay, surgeries, the hospital, and more. ICU treatment can cost as much as $10,000 per day, with an average stay of 3 to 4 days.
Hospital Room and Board
Room and board expenses are billed for your stay at the hospital. This includes the cost of the room and bed, nursing services, personal hygiene items, and food or beverages. Room and board charges are separate from the cost of other services received at the hospital, such as tests, medications, or screenings, and are charged in addition to your other services.
Depending on the treatment you receive at the hospital, each day where you stay in a hospital room will end up in additional fees. On average, a per day hospital room and board charge can land around $3,000 per day.
In-Patient and Out-Patient Hospital Treatment
In-patient and out-patient treatment at the hospital, including minor surgeries, can also be expensive depending on the reason for your admittance.
Typically, in-patient care requires a period of overnight stays in the hospital as this is usually for serious illnesses, trauma, or treatment that requires monitoring or recovery time such as a severe burn or knee surgery. Out-patient is often referred to as day patient care and can include services that don’t necessarily require an overnight stay such as bloodwork, lab tests, x-rays, and minor surgeries. Out-patients are usually free to leave the hospital the same day unless overnight observation is recommended, in which case, you are still considered an out-patient.
Because in-patient treatment involves overnight stays at the hospital, medical costs will be greater as you will be billed for room and board related fees in addition to any medical services received. Out-patient care is often less expensive as the medical fees associated with this type of visit is only related to treatment received. However, depending on the injury or ailment you are receiving care for, both in-patient care and out-patient care can still cost you thousands of dollars without insurance.
Cardiac issues often require you to be hooked up and monitored on machines for some time. Heart attacks, emergencies related to heart disease, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure, congenital heart disease, and arrhythmia are all cardiac conditions in which you may need to obtain treatment at a hospital.
Depending on the severity of your heart condition, you may need treatment in the ICU which is one of the more costly of hospital stays as described in detail above. Cardiac-related problems such as heart failure can also lead to an array of testing, surgeries, medications, and other procedures which can quickly add up to a costly medical bill.
Medical Evacuation and Repatriation
If you are in a remote area or an area with an inadequate medical facility to care for your specific needs in the event of an emergency, medical evacuation is the transportation of you to a medical facility that can care for you properly, either by air or by ambulance. Repatriation is the return of your mortal remains back to your home country in the event of your death while away from home.
Medical evacuation is extremely expensive without coverage, with the average emergency helicopter ride costing around $40,000. Repatriation can also prove excessive, costing families up to $15,000 to return their loved ones' remains back to their home country.
How Travel Medical Insurance Can Help
After learning just how costly receiving medical care in the United States is, you may be worried about your travels. This information is not meant to scare you, but to help you better understand just how risky traveling to the U.S. without health insurance can be. Accidents happen, and having medical coverage can make a huge difference in protecting you in the event that you are injured or become ill while overseas.
A travel medical insurance plan can offer coverage for these expensive medical treatments and hospitalization, giving you peace of mind during your travels. Most travel medical insurance plans offer coverage for eligible expenses related to hospitalization for new injuries and illnesses that occur after the start date of your policy. Additionally, some plans also offer benefits related to emergency medical evacuation or repatriation.
Why Policy Maximum Matters
When purchasing your travel medical insurance plan, it is important to choose the right policy maximum that will offer the best safeguard for medical treatment fees. While you may be tempted to choose a cheaper policy with a lower policy maximum, this can prove to be a big mistake if you end up needing expensive medical care that costs well beyond the amount of coverage that you purchased.
Rather than making a decision driven by the price of the plan, instead focus on the benefits, policy maximum, and whether or not the plan is comprehensive or limited. A comprehensive travel medical insurance plan with a high policy maximum will always be the safest option when it comes to adequate coverage for costly health care.
With a travel medical insurance plan, you can travel without worry knowing that a medical emergency in the U.S. can offer protection from an unfavorable financial situation.