You could get struck with a case of sudden appendicitis in America, be driven to a hospital in agony with only hours to live and arrive in the emergency room only to be offered a glass of water. There is no national health service in the US, only private health companies that are covered by extortionate health insurance plans. There exists Medicaid, a scheme to help the poorer people should they get hit by a car but that isn’t going to cover the traveler. Families typically pay $1000 a month to be covered in case of emergency and one of the big attractions of playing ball with the system is that a good job will cover all your health and dentistry bills. Or at least part of it.
Imagine. You’re working and managing to make a living and pay for your studies when suddenly you find that a molar tooth needs a root canal. The dental work will set you back a couple of thousand bucks that you don’t have and so you take pain killers for months or else just take out the fucker with a pair of pliers. At first it seems inconceivable that the richest country in the world should be unable to take care of its people until you understand that it’s a fundamental part of the American Way. To those that have shall be given, to those who have not, well there’s always the pair of pliers.
It’s not to say that every hospital will turn you away at death’s door but most will ask you for your credit card first. In the event that you have no money to cover the medical attention they may still agree to treat you but you’ll be hounded down for the money afterwards by the law and aggressive debt collection agencies.
So the traveler might consider taking an elementary health insurance in California rather than rely upon the Hypocratic oath of the hypocritical medical world in America.
The major cities can all be sketchy in places with institutionalised racial tension and resentment as well as endemic drug addiction. You might not recongise a bad neighbourhood as they often have the appearance of a well-kept suburb. The deterioration has more to do with the social environment than the physical and so just be on the lookout for gangs of young guys hanging out on street corners – they’re often the ones who feel the need to justify the testosterone flowing through their veins.