Learn about healthcare in the United States

for the international student

Traveling in a foreign country can be confusing and getting adjusted to customs and practices can take some time, but if you become ill while studying in the United States (U.S.), it is important   to know how to navigate where you should go to access medical care.

Emergency Room or Urgent Care Center

One of the most common mistakes international students make is going to the emergency room rather than urgent care centers. In the U.S., you should not visit an emergency room unless you have a life-threatening situation and/or require immediate medical attention. Because emergency rooms triage cases (address the most urgent cases first), if you visit the emergency room with a minor injury you may need to wait a significant amount of time to be seen by a medical professional. Additionally, medical insurance may not cover emergency room visits which are not of an emergency nature. In many cases, you can receive quicker and lower cost medical care in an urgent care facility. However, in an emergency you should always dial 911 or proceed immediately to the emergency room.

University Health Center

Your university’s health center is a great resource and often will provide the lowest cost care on or near campus. University health centers often provide education and local resources to help you address any health concerns while studying in the United States. In addition to hospitals, clinics, and university health centers, many cities also have community health centers. Community health centers cater to populations who may need multilingual support or who have limited health insurance. They are also often located near public transportation. Community health centers can be a great resource for international student care.

Various Types of Health Care Services

In addition to the various places you may go to access care, the kind of care you receive in the U.S. may be very different from what you’ve experienced in your home country. For example, in the U.S. illnesses such as a cold or influenza are generally treated at home with over the counter (OTC) medications. You do not need a prescription to purchase OTC medications such as pain relief and cough and cold medicine. Most minor colds are treated with OTC medications and do not necessitate a visit to a medical professional. Many hospitals and clinics also offer options to utilize online chat, video, or phone to speak with a healthcare professional from the comfort of your own home.

Sign up for our DialCare telemedicine service.  GBG has partnered with DialCare Physician Access, to provide 24/7 access to phone or video consultations with state-licensed and fully credentialed doctors for non-emergency illnesses and general care.

Dental and vision careare primarily provided at private practices outside of the hospital. It is common to go to a dentist office, not a hospital, for biannual cleanings or to discuss any dental concerns. However, if you do not have dental insurance you can also address any concerns with your primary care physician (PCP) and they may refer you to a specialist to receive assistance.

Mental health care is also important to consider while you are studying in the U.S. Many universities have resources for you to receive mental health services on campus. Your doctor can refer you to mental health services as well.

Pharmaciesin the U.S. are readily available. In addition to independent stores, large stores such as Target, Walmart, and even grocery stores often contain pharmacies, which is where you can access medications and health supplements. If your doctor writes you a prescription for a medication, they will usually ask where you want the prescription filled. This means you can choose to pick up the prescription at the hospital or clinic pharmacy, or choose another location such as CVS, Walgreens, or larger retailers.

Learn more about Global Benefits Group by visiting us at https://www.gbg.com/coverage/education/international-studentsand follow us on our social channels.  

DISCLAIMER: This information is intended for general education about healthcare in the U.S. Your personal health conditions may require different care. Please seek the advice of a trained medical professional if you have questions specific to your personal health.