Additional Health Care Concerns: Dental Care, Vision Care, Prescription Drugs, Hospitals and Treatment, Immunizations
Your health insurance plan may or may not cover dental care. Even if it does, it might not cover all the procedures that you may want, such as orthodontics (teeth straightening) or cosmetic dentistry. Dental care can be expensive, so you may want to consider purchasing a separate dental insurance policy or joining a dental discount program. If you are caught without coverage, you can ask your dentist to work out a payment plan with you, so you can pay over time.
Your health insurance plan may or may not cover vision care as well. General eye care typically is provided by an optometrist, who is trained and licensed to examine your eyes, check for eye diseases and problem, and prescribe eyeglasses. More serious problems can be handled by an opthamologist, who is a medical doctor who specializies in eye diseases (and who generally charges higher fees).
An insurance plan generally will cover costs of an ophthalmologist's care for medical situations, such as the diagnosis, care, and surgery for cataracts. Insurance may or may not include coverage related to the prescription and purchase of eyeglasses.
Some health insurance plans that cover the cost of prescription drugs will pay only for generic drugs unless your doctor requires that a brand drug be used. Generic drugs are less expensive and become available after the patent for a drug expires. In the United States, prescription drugs (Rx) are tightly regulated by the federal government and may be obtained only by a doctor's order (nonprescription drugs, also called over-the-counter "OTC" drugs do not require a doctor's prescription).
If you have a medical emergency, immediately call "911" by telephone anywhere in the United States for assistance. This number is also used for police emergencies, so you may use it whenever you are in serious danger.
Emergency care in the US is very high quality but expensive. While you should not hesitate in a genuine emergency, emergency services are not intended when a call to your doctor would be sufficient.
It is important to take responsibility for deciding on your medical treatment, and to work closely with your doctor. Medical treatments can vary widely from place to place, or even from doctor to doctor. You want to obtain the medical treatment that is best for you, and avoid medical treatments that are unnecessary or harmful.
Immunizations are an important part of preventative medicine, and some are required by law. For example, in the United States, children are required to have necessary immunizations before attending school. Many state health departments provide these immunizations for free or for minimal cost. In addition, inoculation for influenza (the flu) is beneficial for older individuals or those with compromised health.