28 December 2010

A medical insurance puzzle

Hey, folks,

We got this note yesterday, and as I told Rod's brother, the only insurance I have ever had was part of an employment package, and our current insurance only kicks in after the $8,000 annual deductible is met, so I would hardly call myself knowledgable about private insurance here in the US.

I told him I'd pose his question to my friends and see if anyone has anymore idea than I do. You can post here, mail me privately, or message me on Facebook if you know anything about private insurance or the Boston medical system.

Thank you!!

Hi Misti and Rod,

We have questions about the health insurance system in the US which seems to be almost incomprehensible to us here in Australia.

For V's first twelve months of studying at Boston Ballet and then in New York, we bought travel insurance through our travel agent which cost us AUD$1000 and supposedly covered Victor for medical and hospital treatment anywhere in the world for 12 months. However, it cannot be extended if the traveller remains overseas for more than 12 months.

However, when he went to see a doctor in Boston he was told that he could not be seen because their particular group of hospitals would not accept patients covered by any insurance company other than the ones on a list approved by their board. For being told that he could receive no treatment, we were presented with a bill for US$350 which our insurance company wouldn't pay because he had received no treatment, so we supposedly had to pay it ourselves (actually, I'm not 100% certain that it actually got paid - I certainly have received no receipt).

So we are wondering what sort of insurance we can buy from a company there in the US that will cover him for any doctor or any hospital so that he won't be turned away if he needs medical treatment. Is there coverage we can buy for a single student that comes at a reasonable rate?
While trying to figure out health insurance companies online, it appears that he must have a Social Security Number. Yet he doesn't have a Social Security Number and cannot get one since he is not a resident of the US.

What I am most worried about is that we will pay for insurance and then have him turned away again because we bought the wrong kind.

It is hard to figure out, since here in Australia, the government covers all our treatment except for elective surgery or private hospitals. As near as I can tell there is nothing similar in the US as there seems to be no government-run hospital and medical systems.

Have you any suggestions that might help us?


Belated Christmas Blessings and our best wishes for a great 2011.

Love from P and W


  1. Misti -

    your BIL and SIL might have good luck checking with the school their son is enrolled in. Most schools (presuming this is post high school) have a student insurance plan that is available, and it would largely cover emergencies and sick visits. If the school doesn't have a plan available, they likely know where to direct Victor's parents for a plan that fits his needs.

    Yowza - I hate insurance issues, but i cannot imagine trying to figure them out internationally, either! :o

    I hope this helps!

  2. Sue's answer sounds good to me. But if for some reason it doesn't pan out, you might try asking on Arborparents.

  3. Yes, if he is a student at a major school they should have an insurance plan or clinic he can use. I know my university had one when I went (although you must be enrolled full time to qualify). One thing about American insurance in large cities with multiple clinics and hospitals: most insurance plans only let you go to specific hopsitals, doctors or clinics. For example I can't use the hospital closest to me (even for emergencies), I have to go one farther away that is contracted with my insurance company. That could be the problem your nephew initially ran into--he may just have gone to the wrong hospital for his particular traveler's insurance plan. There should be an international advisor or office at your nephew's school that can help him with issues like this. Trying to figure it out from Australia has to be a nightmare.


We're happy to hear from you; thanks!