Healthcare and Emergency Services
An Insider’s Guide to Moving to San Francisco
This relocation guide has been designed with the explicit intention to provide expats and travellers with all they need to know about moving to San Francisco.
This exciting chapter covers Healthcare.
Your health is something you have to take good care of. If you don’t look after yourself then you can’t enjoy your new surrounding or job in the city of San Francisco.
Health law and policy is, as expected, different from what you may be used to. If you’ve grown comfortable with a National Health Service then you’re going to sailing into new territory.
San Francisco, like the rest of the US, has a private health insurance system that requires Americans to get coverage for health treatments. It is now easier for Americans to get healthcare since the passing of the Affordable Healthcare Act (also known as Obamacare). It also stops health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But there are also social programmes like Medicare and Medicaid that help the elderly, poor and young pay for healthcare through state subsidies.
Sounds complicated, right?
But don’t worry, this chapter will bring you up to speed on the healthcare system.
4.1 Health Insurance
Regardless of how long you’re going to be in San Francisco (one year, two? It doesn’t matter), you’ll need to have a health insurance plan that will cover any ailments that you may suffer throughout your stay or relocation.
This may come as a shock to those that are used to universal healthcare, but not every country has public healthcare or even believes in it. The US has made some progress but still lags behind.
If you’re in San Francisco for work then your employer should provide you with a company healthcare plan that covers standard healthcare needs, and maybe even some extra things if they’re a big corporation. Not all companies do but most will, If you have to get a San Francisco health plan yourself then you’re in for long haul of research and decision making. Whatever plan you decide it must cover what you need, from pre-existing conditions and healthcare basics. Ensure as many of these aspects are covered:
- Doctor appointments
- Stays at the hospital, surgery and emergency treatment
- Ambulance services
- Medicine prescriptions
- Blood tests
- Dental care for children under 18 years
- Mental health care
- Appointments with medical specialists such as dermatologists, allergists or internal specialists
- Pregnancy, birth care and midwifery services
- Maternity care.
San Francisco does have a special healthcare access programme called Healthy San Francisco. This is a program designed to make health care services available and affordable to uninsured San Francisco residents regardless of immigration status, employment status, or pre-existing medical conditions. This is a step forwards in the argument for universal healthcare but is only available for:
- Residents of San Francisco
- Residents with income at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.
If you’re looking for the right provider then our list below is a good start. Looking them up and see what they offer:
- Kaiser Permanente
- Blue Shield of California
- Milber Insurance
- Stride Health
- San Francisco Health Plan
And many more.
Congratulations, you’ve taken your first steps down the windy road of the US healthcare system.
International Health Insurance
If you’re planning on staying in San Francisco for a short period then a simpler option might be to choose an international health insurance plan, which covers you in multiple locations all over the globe. This could also be a very good option for you if you tend to travel extensively.