Health care in the USA

the U.S. health care system is difficult to understand, even for Americans. New and pending legislation within the federal government complicates matters even further. Quality health care is available everywhere in the country from a variety of sources. The key lies in knowing the proper procedures, and in knowing where to go for specific kinds of care. This knowledge can save an international student significant amounts of time and money.

Health Care On Campus

Most college and university campuses offer some type of general medical care; services vary from basic first-aid and treatment of minor ailments to sophisticated multi-doctor primary care centers offering x-rays, laboratory tests, prescription drugs and access to specialists. The cost of on-campus medical services is normally not very expensive.

During your first week on campus, take a copy of your medical records (including immunization and vaccination records and prescriptions) to the school’s health care center or infirmary.

Going off campus for health care

If you prefer to visit a medical practitioner off-campus, you have several choices (though the cost is generally higher). Private Doctors treat non-emergency patients by appointment during regular office hours, typically 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Minor emergency clinics do not require appointments, and are usually open on weekends and holidays.

In case of serious emergency, go to the nearest hospital emergency room — by ambulance if necessary. Hospital emergency rooms are designed to treat life-threatening ailments; this is typically the most expensive place to receive care.

If you need to use a medical facility, but are uncomfortable with your English skills, ask a friend to go with you. Proper communication is very important!

What you need to know about health insurance

many colleges and universities have their own health insurance plans for their students. According to a recent independent study, larger U.S. schools tend to have better international student insurance programs than smaller schools. Participation in the plan is often mandatory, especially for non-U.S. students. If you are sponsored by an organization such as USAID or one of the Fulbright programs, that organization may have its own health insurance policy. If health insurance is not provided, the International Student Office at your new institution will be able to help you find a suitable plan that fits your needs, or visit International Student Insurance for more information.

A number of private companies offer insurance plans specifically designed for international students. The quality of these programs varies, so request advice from the on-campus International Student Office and other international students, especially students who have had experience with insurance claims.