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Getting O2 in the USA as a foreigner


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Hi all!

I've started thinking about travelling to the USA for a long period of time to study a degree but the first thing I need to check off my list is the possibility of having oxigen there. I'm from Spain and here I can get it from the public health care for free. What would be the best and cheapest option for me? I think I'll have to get an insurance that includes it. But what is it? How does it appear in the insurance policy? Then, the first thing upon arrival is talking to a doctor (neurologist) who can prescribe it and convince him. Is that right? Can I speak directly with the insurance company to explain that I need the oxygen and get it without doctor intervention? Thank you!

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Hi Victor,

Others more informed than I could more reliably answer some of those questions, but I do know this:

1) Many US insurance plans don't offer much coverage for O2 for CH.

2) A lot of CH'ers in the US have found their best and most affordable option is to use welding O2, which is purported to be the exact same stuff as medical O2, but cheaper, and widely available without prescription or any other middle man interference.

So as you can see, there's still a bit of the Wild West left in the USA CH medical scene.

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Victor, I think you will find that most US universities (which is where I am imagining you will be studying for a degree) will offer insurance to students.  I know that in some places international students are required to buy the insurance that the school itself provides.  So, you might not have a choice about whether to get a plan that covers oxygen or not--you might just have to take what they give you.  But you should ask whoever you are in contact with at the university -- the director of admissions, I would think -- how you can find out details about medical plans.

Can I speak directly with the insurance company to explain that I need the oxygen and get it without doctor intervention?
No, a doctor will have to prescribe it.

I don't remember what our oxygen tanks cost.  But some people have commented on this subject in the past, so maybe they'll see this.  I remember that it didn't seem like too much, considering that it is, unfortunately, likely to be a long-term purchase. Once you have bought the tank or tanks, you pay something each time you refill them.  You would also have to buy a regulator (about $40) and a mask (between $5 and $30, depending on quality).  You can also rent tanks, but since you say you might be here for a long time, buying might be more economical.

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I just bought another new 320 cu. ft tank a few months ago for $350. Don't know what to call it other than 320 cu. ft., it's 56" to the top of the cap and about 8" OD. Watch Craig's List for used tanks, they become available fairly often around here. If buying a used tank, check the certification date stamped on the side of the tank near the top. They have to be pressure tested and re-certified every 10 years.

It costs me $24 and change to get my O2 refilled. Make sure you have a place fairly nearby that'll refill tanks rather than exchange them if you buy one. You don't want to take a tank you just had re-certified and exchange it for who knows what.

The second tank I bought is for C-25, I don't breath that stuff. My O2 tank I had to have re-certified a couple years for $80 included a new valve.

All in all, I'd say that owning your own tank is a less expensive option in the long run, especially as how, unfortunately, your probably gonna use it for the rest of your life anyway.

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