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Why NOT to be without health insurance in US? First time ?

Health Insurance… If you do not have it,  FIRST GET IT !  Many people do not realize the importance of health insurance in America. It is a MUST.  Some may argue,  I am in good health condition and it is a waste of $100 or $300 for health insurance. But, we do not plan accidents. Lets imagine, you are walking down the road and just slipped for some reason and fell down. In other countries, you can go to doctor and get decent treatment for less money. Guess what in America, if you do NOT have health insurance, you may spend a LOT of money. Can be anywhere from $500 – $50,000 or more. May be I am overstating, but the reality is it costs you a LOT of money without health insurance. This article just explains the importance of having health insurance in USA. Let me show you quick pricing comparison of just one treatment.

Medical TreatmentCost in India without InsuranceCost in US Without InsuranceCost in US with insurance
MRI ScanRs 4000 – Rs 7000 ($90 – $155)$700- $2500Can be FREE after you reach the deductible and insurance Policy

Also, let’s say if you call 911 and take Ambulance, it can cost you anywhere from $300 to $700 or more. If you have proper insurance you might get this free. But, it depends on the plan though. Let me tell you a real story of a friend of mine, he was just going on a bike and fell down. He did not have proper insurance. For some reason, the health insurance did not cover the expenses. He had his elbow broken and it was bad. Probably, in India he would have got away with Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 if he were to go to a nice fancy hospital. If not, around Rs.10,000 to Rs.50,000. Guess what my friend had to pay ?  It cost him $45,000 Dollars. It is equivalent to Rs 20,25,000 ( over 20 Lakhs). You can just compare the numbers and realize the importance of health insurance. Even if you do not compare, that’s a lot of money in US dollars and it is years of savings for average Americans. Here is the thing in America, most of the times, you will not be left out and forced to bear pain with a broken arm or anything like that. The hospitals do treat you well, but they will take your SSN and other contact information and send you all the bills home.  You cannot escape from bills and collection agencies. They get you there and you will end up paying all your life, just medical bills. So, be careful and take insurance right away if you do not have. In future articles, I plan to write the types of health insurance and what is best one to choose if you had a choice… Refer to following if you need references for comparison.

Short Term Travel Insurance in US : Now that you know the reality, if you are traveling to US for the first time and not sure, what and where to buy, you can take Short Term Travel Insurance like Visitors Coverage – Health Insurance  . Once you are settled in first few weeks, then you can buy a domestic insurance from US providers or have your employer cover it.

Image Credits : http://www.flickr.com/photos/kblanqua/3632729190/


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  1. Hello,

    I missed my insurance payment for a month and it got cancelled.I was without insurance for 3 months last year.Then i got my insurance through employer.Is it a crime being with out insurance for 3 months in h1b?

  2. Hello,
    i along with my wife,kid (3 years old) will be travelling to US next month on H1-B , as per the discussion with my employer they will be applying for some travel insurance which would take care of the initial insurance coverage before their actual plan begins and as per them it would be effective/start from travel date.
    considering above information do i need to get any specific information from my employer or do i need to worry about anything ? should i get insurance done from india before start of my travel
    please suggest so that i can get relevant information from my employer

    • Mohit,

      ACA (aka Obamacare) mandates that you carry insurance else pay the penalty when filing the taxes. I am not 100% sure if this provision has already started or will start in next 1-2 years. The whole plan had different dates for different provisions. You can search online.

  3. Hi Kumar,

    Thanks for the very informative blog.

    I’m planning to go by myself and call my wife and kid in 2-3 months.

    We have a medical treatment under discussion for our kid, which might need to be considered at earliest for better results.

    1. May I apply for the insurance as soon I land, even before I get job/client/paystub ..?
    2. Is it possible to apply for my dependants insurance before they land?
    3. Will there be any wait period for the insurance to get activated?
    4. Any particular insurance package for family that would cover pre existing medical condition?

    Please guide us with this one too. Thanks again for your continuous help.

    • M,

      1. You will be on employer offered insurance plan and you and employer pay for premiums through your paycheck. If you are getting paid this is not an issue. If your pay is dependent on getting a client (which is illegal), then not sure how it would work. Talk to your employer about this.

      2. I think it can be applied even before they land in US.

      3. No. Still check w/ employer’s specific insurance company

      4. Not 100% sure, but I think ACA makes it illegal to refuse coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. Again, check w/ employer’s specific insurance company

  4. Hi Kumar

    It seems I am in a mess, My H1 is approved but my husband found that he has TB(not contagious) and is under treatment for three months he has finished the first course and has started the secondary with Isoniazid and Rifampicin the doctor says he can give us the medicine but We afraid they ask us in airport(USA) and it will be a problem for us also I checked and Isonizaid and Rifampicin isn’t sold without prescription there , I really dont know what to do PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN


    • I haven’t come across many cases where a person is inquired about his/her health at PoE. However, you need to ensure that you are on a medical insurance as soon as you land in US on H-1. Check w/ your employer about their insurance program, and see if they would cover your husband’s illness. I don’t know if it qualifies as pre-existing condition (at times insurance programs do not cover pre-existing diseases).

      • Hi Surabh,
        I’m on H1b Visa and my wife( is on L1 Visa) is suffering from tuberclosis(also Henson’s Disease) since last one year.Till now she was undergoing medications given by doctors to her in India and now we want to go for medical consultation in US since we cannot travel to India because of Visa stamping issues.Please let us now the implications of this,would that affect our current job?How would employer or insurance react to it?We are in dilemma..Please help us knowing how things work out in US.

        • I don’t think it should impact the employment. You will have to talk to the insurance company about what’s covered and what’s not. She has insurance in US right? She should call them and let them know about the medical condition and they would be able to guide and let you know about the costs.

  5. It would be helpful to know why your friend did not get covered even when we was insured.

    It makes me think that even having an insurance is not as safety as we might thought. Perhaps an article on situations that may makes our insurance company to legally not pay for the events we may have.


    • Baskar, it depends…First check with your school…It depends on the policies of the school, what they accept and what they do not…talk to your seniors for plans that school recognizes.

      • I have taken PSI4 accepted by the university. But the main idea is whether there will be any probs afterwards. Which policy is ideal as we go in for a lower premium policy without knowing the implications and thank God nothing happens. I just want to know what are the factors to look into, etc. Thanks for all the info in your blog, Very usefulllll.


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