【明報專訊】When I was studying in the UK, I only had to pay £300 per year to have access to the NHS (National Health Service), which covered most if not all of my medical expenses. What about the US? The healthcare system here is notoriously complex and I can't say I fully understand it. I do know that most people and their families get their health insurance through employers, while those over 65 or those who are unable to get private health insurance might be able to resort to government programmes such as Medicare and Medicaid, if they are lucky; 27.5 million people had no healthcare coverage at all in 2018. The US healthcare system is known to be both the most expensive and worst-performing among developed countries. According to a US government website, if you break your leg, you could end up with a bill for US$7,500. If you need to stay in the hospital for three days, it would probably cost about US$30,000. This patchy (質素參差的) system has always been subject to heated political debates and reforms (you might have heard of ''Obamacare'').
As an international student on an F-1 visa, healthcare is a bit more straightforward for me. Since my university requires me to enrol in their default health plan, I don't actually have a choice. The plan costs a whopping US$3,420 per year, almost nine times what I pay in the UK, and even more compared to what I pay in Hong Kong, which is next to nothing since I rarely ever see a doctor. In addition to that, I have to pay a US$10 co-payment for most medical visits and even more for emergency room visits. That said, the plan is supposed to be quite comprehensive and should cover any serious injury or illness. There are schools that don't require such a comprehensive coverage and let you choose your own insurance.
Alice is a freshman at Cornell University intending to major in Economics and Computer Science, having previously studied in the UK for six years. A lover of languages, she studies French, Italian, Japanese and picks up bits of other languages when she can.