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Medical insurance in the USA

Halah Al-Obaidi and family

I am Halah, a former refugee.

I will tell you my story about medical insurance – how I got it, and what I felt when I had it. I am also going to give you some information about the health insurance system in the United States and what I learned.

I first came to the USA with my family, my husband and my two children who were 2 and 3 years old. In the first few days I accessed the welfare system (the division of social services) which is the place that I could apply for health insurance and other public benefits.

When I went there, I learned that the US health service is very expensive and that I need to have medical insurance to help me pay for that.

I also learned that most of the people in the USA have medical insurance. It can also be called health insurance. In the Social Services office, I had the right to ask for an interpreter. They asked me what Medicaid insurance company I want, and I choose one of some options which were offered for me. After I had applied, I received my “Health Benefit Identification Card” and my “Health Insurance Card” by mail. These were two cards that I carried. The first one was proof that I am eligible for Medicaid; this card contains an ID number. The second card named “health insurance card” gives important information such as name, Member ID number, PCP (family doctor), and the phone number of his facility. There is also issue date, effective date, the plan, copayment, and member services phone number.

There is always an interpreter if you don’t speak English. I just ask for one that speaks my language if I want.

My health insurance helped me pay for the doctors, dentists, emergencies, eye care, birth control, labs visits, and prescribed medicines. Health insurance can also pay for transportation to the medical visit, but it requires an appointment. If anyone needs transportation, they can ask their insurance company about this service.

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There is also a program called Medicaid.

Medicaid depends on the income and employment status of the family.

I wasn’t working, but my husband did, so they calculated his salary to see if all the members in our family are qualified to have Medicaid. Because we qualified, we did not receive any bills. My doctor’s office sent the bill to my health insurance company and my doctor’s office got the payment. I didn’t need to do anything except to provide my health insurance card to any medical facility that I visited.

The health insurance may deny some services. If they do, the company usually writes the reason of the denying, and anyone has the right to appeal. If anyone needs to appeal, they can call their insurance company and ask them how to do it.

On November of every year, I had to renew my health insurance plan by filing an application that my Medicaid office sent me. If they don’t send me one, I go to their website and print the renewal health insurance application. I fill it in and send all the copies of the documents that are needed with the application by mail, they usually mention what document they need, and what is the due date for renewal.

My husband’s and my Medicaid ended because of his salary, but my children still have health insurance yet, and I pay a copayment.

Everyone needs to have health insurance.

My husband has applied for health insurance for me and him through his job. With this insurance, we have to pay for services until we reach our deductible amount. Then the insurance pays. Even if the deductible is so high and I am not able to reach it, the insurance still saves us some money when we visit the doctor. My annual check/preventive care is 100% covered by my health insurance.

I feel worried  that some day I will need to go to the emergency, which costs a lot, and my insurance now doesn’t cover it until I reach to the deductible amount. There are some other plans that have a low deductible and cover most of the doctor  and emergency visits, but these plans cost more monthly.

It is important to get medical insurance as soon as you arrive in the United States.

It is also important to renew it every year and provide any updates. Don’t forget that you have the interpreter option when you call your health insurance company if you don’t speak English. All the information that you put in the application will be kept confidentially. Health insurance may save your life and health, so don’t hesitate to apply.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.