Accessing Health Care

Accessing Health Care

You and your health are significant. It is imperative that you ask questions if you do not understand a situation or think you have not received appropriate care. Be prepared to speak up!

While the Health Care System in the U.S. can provide excellent care, accessing and paying for care is probably different than your home country. For an international visitor, it is a private system that charges on a fee for service basis. These charges can be very expensive and it is important to note that the individual is responsible for the bill. As indicated above, there are public health programs, but the public programs that exist are for retired and those eligible for public support. These programs are financed by taxes. Internationals in the U.S. are generally not eligible for this support. Accepting this support can jeopardize your status in the U.S.

It is also important to seek care appropriately. Do not use a hospital emergency room in a non-emergency situation. The cost for using any hospital services is usually significantly higher if the same care is available elsewhere in the community.

If you are a student and have access to a College/University health care system, be aware that an institutional health service is usually your best source of health care. It is generally:
· Less costly
· More accustomed to working with internationals
· More aware of cultural considerations
· Offers a referral system for more serious care
· Includes a cooperative effort with the Counseling Services

There are a variety of excellent public resources on health care, including:
Agency For Healthcare Research & Quality - Health Care Guide & Tips "Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care" & "Improving Health Care Quality"

NAFSA: Association of International Education has an online book "Optimizing Health Care in International Educational Exchange" Within this book, there is a chapter on page 54 "Overcoming Challenges in Health Care for International Students".