The USA is one of the world’s most exciting and fast-paced countries. Encompassing 9.834 million km sq, the country includes an incredible topography of vibrant cities, deserts, snowy mountains (with world-famous ski resorts), and outstandingly beautiful coastline – in fact, you can pretty much tick off every holiday type without leaving the country. The US itself runs from the western states of New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, to California and Washington state in the east, with plenty of flight connections from GCC hubs. From Dubai, Emirates connects you directly to famous cities like New York City, Chicago and San Fransisco; and the same goes for Etihad, Qatar Airways and Saudia, who all offer direct flights to major US hubs from their home bases of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh or Jeddah.
But while travelling to the US from the GCC is always exciting, it can be confusing, with additional safety checks, visas and Estas to deal with and plenty of restricted items not usually off limits. But there’s one thing travellers from the GCC often forget when travelling across various ponds: travel insurance. The UAE and GCC’s healthcare industry operates in a similar way to the US, with residents receiving health insurance from their employer or paying an annual fee to gain coverage in hospitals and clinics. With more premium and comprehensive plans, there’s also coverage included worldwide, in other GCC countries, the policyholder’s home country and other destinations across the world.
But more often than not, two countries that are excluded from that policy are the United States and Canada. This is for a few reasons. Firstly, the US healthcare system is driven mainly by private financing, and surgeries, medication and consultations cost significantly more than in other popular holiday destinations like Europe, Africa or Asia. Unlike many countries in the world – such as India and European nations – the US does not have a nationally regulated medical body keeping costs fair and low, meaning hospitalisation and consultations, on top of procedures themselves, can set you back a considerable sum of money.
Travel and health insurance from the UAE and GCC
When travelling to the US from the UAE and GCC, it’s imperative to check if your health insurance package comes with coverage in the US, and if not, purchase a separate policy for the duration of your stay – including the time you’re up in the air – through a separate provider. Many platforms offer additional health insurance for travel specifically for UAE and GCC travellers, and the most reliable and easy to use include Aig UAE and AXA – where reliable policies for the US can be available from as little as AED200 for a week. Beware of being tempted by cheaper packages and always check the terms and conditions, and make sure to choose the one with no space for loopholes and with the highest possible amount for hospitalisation in the US. For example, a ride in an ambulance can cost USD$20,000, and surgery like appendix removal as much as $100,000 – depending on hospital and location – which will be directly billed to you if you fail to be insured. The average cost for an individual visit in 2023 was USD$7,221, with prices rising year-on-year.