The USA is an extremely wealthy country, therefore there is no need to have any specific concerns about health while visiting. Emergencies do happen though, and therefore it is prudent to be prepared in case one does strike. If you feel that you need urgent medical assistance in the USA, make sure you ring 911 immediately.
It is also important to remember that there is no universal healthcare system in the USA – citizens have private healthcare insurance or run the risk of receiving massive medical bills if they get ill. This means that all travellers to the country should take out insurance before leaving home, as even a short hospital trip can cost thousands of dollars. A small outlay covering your health in the USA could end up saving you thousands in the future.
Aside from standard vaccinations recommended for everyday life, there are no additional vaccinations needed when visiting the USA. Rabies does occur within the country, and this vaccination can be considered if travelling to more remote areas, although it is not essential. As always, you should speak to a medical professional regarding advice for your specific situation.
Medical Care in the USA
The USA is home to some of the finest medical institutions in the world, with hospitals and medical facilities boasting the latest equipment and the most knowledgeable staff. If you are in need of medical treatment, you should go the ER of the local hospital, which will be well-known to all taxi drivers in the area. The time it takes to be seen will depend on the severity of your situation. All bills should be referred to your insurer – if you can take your insurance certificate with you, it will help with a number of administrative issues. If it is an emergency, don’t spend your time hunting for a piece of paper though!
As you might expect, dentists can be found all over the country, with loads in every single town and city. Guess what though? Yep, the service is certainly not a free one! Most insurance policies will cover dental visits though, but make sure you check before you take the policy out. The only thing worse than having a tooth pulled out while on a gap year is realising your insurance doesn’t cover the cost afterwards!
There are numerous pharmacies throughout the US and they can supply all manner of different medicines, lotions and pills. These are often the best places to visit if you have a minor health complaint and don’t want to head to the ER. Basic medication, such as indigestion pills or heartburn remedies, won’t be covered by insurance and can be reasonably expensive, however they will not break the bank. More serious medications will not be supplied without a prescription from an American doctor.