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Evenstar

Moving to the US. Need help badly looking for health plan that will cover psych consults

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Hi there. I haven't posted on here for a while. But I badly need help and information. I'm moving to the US, arriving on May 14th in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I will be living with my partner and will be under an F2 visa - spouse. My partner is a graduate student in the University of Alabama. She has full coverage including mental health. Unfortunately, her dependents will not be covered so I need to buy an insurance for myself because I imagine it will be super expensive consulting with psychiatrists without coverage. I have Bipolar II and ADHD. So far, I am doing okay on my meds so mostly I just need to consult to get prescriptions regularly. I can only bring up to 3 months supply of meds or the TSA will be very suspicious what I'm going to do with them. And of course, unavoidable circumstances might happen so it's better to be covered. 

The visitor insurance I've been looking at online from different companies all DON'T cover preexisting conditions. The problem is I have also been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovaries. So I'm really going to bleed a huge amount of money consulting with doctors if I don't find a health insurance that would cover outpatient and preexisting conditions. Take note that I will not have an SSN because I am only on F2 - a dependent of an F1 (student). So I am not eligible for most compliant health plans. What I'm looking at are visitor insurance plans. There is one company, Cigna which provided me with a quote of a compliant health plan (that is for visitors) but it's amounting to almost $200 a month. I don't think it even includes outpatient care. Another company is offering about $600 a month! That's insane. 

I won't be able to afford more than $100 monthly, $200 maybe if really no choice maybe I can push my budget a little bit. I'd like to point out that my visa is not valid for working in the US so I will not have a job when I get there. I will have income from my online business but it's not a lot of money. My partner can cover most of our expenses but will be very limited to pay for all my health needs.

Can somebody please help me with some information on what I can get? What alternatives do I have and is it really THAT expensive?

Also, if I end up getting an insurance that does not cover outpatient care and preexisting conditions - could you please give me an idea how much I have to spend per consultation to a psychiatrist to get meds and all, without insurance? If you know how much endocrinologists or cardiologists charge (for my diabetes) that would be great also. And how much are meds typically? I haven't updated my signature but right now I am on - Lamical and Solian (Amisulpride), and as needed Xanor and Ritalin. 

Thank you so much! Looking forward to your informative responses.

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Maybe Medicaid?

https://medicaid.alabama.gov/content/3.0_Apply/

 

Here is another link that might be helpful:

https://www.healthcare.gov/

 

I also looked up the affordable care act and I think you can only apply between a certain time period, but I am not sure about that.  Here is a link about it to get an idea of what it is like:

https://obamacare.net/how-to-apply-for-obamacare/

 

I hope this helps!

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Thanks for your reply, Melissaw72. The problem with medicaid and others you've mentioned is I think they require citizenship - or at least an SSN. I will not be a citizen. Spouses or dependents of F1 visa holders (STUDENTS) do not get SSN's and are still considered like visitors. The only benefit is that we get to stay in the US as long as the student stays or their visa is valid.

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Could you look into Care Credit? I know nothing about it other than people use it when the don't have insurance, and it might not require you to be a citizen, not sure. Look into it perhaps.

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50 minutes ago, Alien Navel Cord said:

Could you look into Care Credit? I know nothing about it other than people use it when the don't have insurance, and it might not require you to be a citizen, not sure. Look into it perhaps.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will look it up and see my options.

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WE have parity laws which require insurance to treat mental illness no different than physical. I don't know if a non-citizen would be covered by this but I bet not. Forget finding commercial insurance with no pre existing clause. You could not afford the monthly premiums. $1,000 + a month.If you can get insurance through work generally this has no pre existing clauses, subject to some rules again I don't know if citizenship covers this. Insurance does not have to take you and if you have serious pre-existing conditions they will not offer insurance to you. Note: this applies to non citizens. 

My psychiatrist does not take insurance. I see him every 3 months. $350/hr, minimum 15 minute appointments, ie about $140 with tax and fees. Intake appointment was a full hour so $350.

Things are in such a state of flux with the ACA so I really can't comment on it.

Travelers insurance, bought in your home county might be an option.

Folks, actually read this post before you offer up your opinion. This person is a non citizen so the rules that govern most peoples insurance in the US will not apply.

 

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9 hours ago, notloki said:

WE have parity laws which require insurance to treat mental illness no different than physical. I don't know if a non-citizen would be covered by this but I bet not. Forget finding commercial insurance with no pre existing clause. You could not afford the monthly premiums. $1,000 + a month.If you can get insurance through work generally this has no pre existing clauses, subject to some rules again I don't know if citizenship covers this. Insurance does not have to take you and if you have serious pre-existing conditions they will not offer insurance to you. Note: this applies to non citizens. 

My psychiatrist does not take insurance. I see him every 3 months. $350/hr, minimum 15 minute appointments, ie about $140 with tax and fees. Intake appointment was a full hour so $350.

Things are in such a state of flux with the ACA so I really can't comment on it.

Travelers insurance, bought in your home county might be an option.

Folks, actually read this post before you offer up your opinion. This person is a non citizen so the rules that govern most peoples insurance in the US will not apply.

 

Wow... $350! That's a lot. I'm also asking my partner to inquire in their university if I can consult in their community health center. They have a health center in the university and it's generally cheaper. Hopefully, I can qualify for that as a spouse.

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A lot of times universities will have student health insurance plans. These would meet ACA standards including mental health parity and no pre-existing condition exclusions. I'd check to see if your partner can get insurance from the school, and then if he can add you to the plan. Schools vary on what they offer for insurance, but I know at least a few allow international students to get the same basic plan that is offered to citizens, and at least some will allow you to add partners/dependants to your plan. Then you would be able to see any doctor/medical provider that takes that insurance plan. 

Edited by thunder

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21 hours ago, Evenstar said:

Thanks for your reply, Melissaw72. The problem with medicaid and others you've mentioned is I think they require citizenship - or at least an SSN. I will not be a citizen. Spouses or dependents of F1 visa holders (STUDENTS) do not get SSN's and are still considered like visitors. The only benefit is that we get to stay in the US as long as the student stays or their visa is valid.

Ohhh, ok, I didn't realize that. 

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4 hours ago, thunder said:

A lot of times universities will have student health insurance plans. These would meet ACA standards including mental health parity and no pre-existing condition exclusions. I'd check to see if your partner can get insurance from the school, and then if he can add you to the plan. Schools vary on what they offer for insurance, but I know at least a few allow international students to get the same basic plan that is offered to citizens, and at least some will allow you to add partners/dependants to your plan. Then you would be able to see any doctor/medical provider that takes that insurance plan. 

Hi, it is not offered by the University of Alabama unfortunately :( My partner also has a friend who brought his wife and they did not allow her to be added to his plan. So I really have to find one on my own. :( 

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Welcome to Alabama! UA is a great school. The mental health situation in the state... not so great.

Some poking around the internet suggests either traveler's insurance or possibly insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but both of those will be extremely pricey and well outside of your budget. Honestly, I would check around the community for mental health centers and see what kind of resources the university has to offer. It may be possible to find a pdoc who is willing to accept a reduced rate (totally out of pocket) to see you, given your F2 status. For routine mental health care, it's not going to be cheap. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the dominant insurer in the state, and nothing they offer is remotely affordable.

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I'm with the others on looking into low-cost community care options. The key things to look for will be income-based coverage, obviously, since you can't work and your spouse's income will be pretty limited. I am not a US citizen but have stayed in the US as an F1 student, and as a TN worker (NAFTA skilled worker visa). As a student, I had catastrophic health coverage from my home country. For routine stuff I was expected to use the campus facilities. Unfortunately my needs exceeded their capacities. I went to a small school though, things may be different with the UofA.

I worked with doctor offices in the community. You'll find many places have a "self-pay" or "uninsured" rate. Even now, as a TN worker with full insurance through my job, I see a pdoc who is out of network. She charges me $75/session, even though technically her "cash" rate is $150/session (for a 30-minute session). 

My best suggestion, honestly, is to just start making phonecalls. You need a GP. You may be able to avoid having to see a pdoc if you remain stable, and a GP will be cheaper. If all you need is someone to keep your rx's current, a low-income clinic may be enough, but definitely don't be afraid to call up "regular" practices and ask about their self-pay rate for uninsured patients. Also, some of this is arbitrary and you may find if you work with a private clinic that your rates change once they get to know you (mine did). Don't hesitate to see NPs or PAs, instead of MDs. The rate is often cheaper to see these people who have just as much medical knowledge (different training/route/degree). I've had excellent care from PAs and NPs.

Finally, definitely invest in catastrophic traveler's insurance at a minimum, even if it doesn't cover your pre-existings. Health care costs are enormous if you get hit by a bus or something. While hospitals will negotiate and generally will set up interest-free payment plans with you, you could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

I know my experience is not identical to yours - I had the F1 visa and worked on-campus, so I got an SSN. But when I came to the US it was before Obamacare and it was impossible to get insurance that would include coverage for my pre-existing conditions, so I elected to stick with just catastrophic insurance and self-pay for the rest. 

For meds, bring as much as you can from home and then look into goodrx.com and needymeds.org. They can help you find out the prices and any coupons you might be eligible for (not all, some require residency and/or private insurance - though the definition of resident for such things is often different than what immigration would call you).

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On 4/27/2017 at 9:12 AM, Geek said:

I'm with the others on looking into low-cost community care options. The key things to look for will be income-based coverage, obviously, since you can't work and your spouse's income will be pretty limited. I am not a US citizen but have stayed in the US as an F1 student, and as a TN worker (NAFTA skilled worker visa). As a student, I had catastrophic health coverage from my home country. For routine stuff I was expected to use the campus facilities. Unfortunately my needs exceeded their capacities. I went to a small school though, things may be different with the UofA.

I worked with doctor offices in the community. You'll find many places have a "self-pay" or "uninsured" rate. Even now, as a TN worker with full insurance through my job, I see a pdoc who is out of network. She charges me $75/session, even though technically her "cash" rate is $150/session (for a 30-minute session). 

My best suggestion, honestly, is to just start making phonecalls. You need a GP. You may be able to avoid having to see a pdoc if you remain stable, and a GP will be cheaper. If all you need is someone to keep your rx's current, a low-income clinic may be enough, but definitely don't be afraid to call up "regular" practices and ask about their self-pay rate for uninsured patients. Also, some of this is arbitrary and you may find if you work with a private clinic that your rates change once they get to know you (mine did). Don't hesitate to see NPs or PAs, instead of MDs. The rate is often cheaper to see these people who have just as much medical knowledge (different training/route/degree). I've had excellent care from PAs and NPs.

Finally, definitely invest in catastrophic traveler's insurance at a minimum, even if it doesn't cover your pre-existings. Health care costs are enormous if you get hit by a bus or something. While hospitals will negotiate and generally will set up interest-free payment plans with you, you could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

I know my experience is not identical to yours - I had the F1 visa and worked on-campus, so I got an SSN. But when I came to the US it was before Obamacare and it was impossible to get insurance that would include coverage for my pre-existing conditions, so I elected to stick with just catastrophic insurance and self-pay for the rest. 

For meds, bring as much as you can from home and then look into goodrx.com and needymeds.org. They can help you find out the prices and any coupons you might be eligible for (not all, some require residency and/or private insurance - though the definition of resident for such things is often different than what immigration would call you).

Thank you! Checking those sites right now.

On 4/27/2017 at 0:10 AM, dtac said:

Welcome to Alabama! UA is a great school. The mental health situation in the state... not so great.

Some poking around the internet suggests either traveler's insurance or possibly insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but both of those will be extremely pricey and well outside of your budget. Honestly, I would check around the community for mental health centers and see what kind of resources the university has to offer. It may be possible to find a pdoc who is willing to accept a reduced rate (totally out of pocket) to see you, given your F2 status. For routine mental health care, it's not going to be cheap. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the dominant insurer in the state, and nothing they offer is remotely affordable.

Great to see someone from AL here. Than you for your suggestions. I have been looking at Blue Cross. They also don't seem to offer plans that cover pre-existing. And yes, it's expensive. I am asking my partner to inquire at the University Health Center if I will be allowed to consult there for the same discounted price for students. 

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I don't know where you're a citizen, but you might look into coverage originating there that covers you in another country. I've seen people flown home to another country based on coverage from the home country, in a crisis. Of course  that's an example for catastrophic care, I don't know about more routine things, but it's worth checking the home country option out. Where I live, which is not Alabama, non-citizens can qualify for medical financial assistance at the local hospital but that's not the case everywhere.  You are here at a time of transition, and not likely to find any bargains in health care. 

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