Going to the doctor’s in the U.S.

Unlike many other countries, the United States does not provide socialized health care. So it will be helpful for you to learn about the local health care system before you actually need it.

We at peerTransfer have put some useful information and easy steps together to prepare you for a doctor’s visit.

Going to the doctor's

Do I need health insurance?

Yes. Health insurance is mandatory for all non-U.S. citizen students studying in the United States. Students cannot register for classes without showing proof of student health insurance.  If you do not have health insurance your school is required to provide an insurance plan that you will be required to purchase. These plans are generally around $2,000.00 per year.

Will my school provide medical care on campus?

Most colleges offer some type of general medical care services that 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.

What should I do to make sure I have access to a doctor in the U.S.?

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.  Make sure they know your medical history.  Your school’s health care center will accept the school’s insurance if you need to purchase it.  They will also have a list of other insurances that they accept should you choose to purchase a plan separately.  If you have an emergency and the school’s health care center is closed you can go to the nearest hospital Emergency Room where you will never be turned away.


What can I do in my home country to prepare?

It is recommended that you have eye, dental and general physical examinations done before leaving your home country, since they will probably cost you much less than in the US.  Also, bring any prescription medication and eyeglasses along with medical documentation with you. These are very expensive in the US.

What to expect at the doctors?

Your insurance will give you a list of doctors you can choose from. Once you make an appointment with them, the procedure is likely to be similar to your home country’s.  You will have to fill out forms and state whether you have allergies or previous illnesses etc. before you will see the doctor.

Let us know if you have any further questions or recommendations for fellow international students in the comments below!

2 Responses to Going to the doctor’s in the U.S.

  1. tiny says:

    Don’t go to an emergency room unless it is an EXTREME Emergency. They are really expensive and the waits are long if you are not dying! Better is to ask your international student office how and where to go to use your insurance. An Urgent care center is cheaper and is open at odd times like an Emergency room (ER)

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