Health Care

Where can I find a doctor?

Most students use the health center on campus. If you need medical care that the health center cannot provide, the health center should be able to recommend a doctor.

If you want to find your own doctor, look under "Physicians & Surgeons" in your telephone book's yellow pages (dentists are listed separately under "Dentists"). Listings are usually divided by the doctors' specialties (what each doctor does). If you are not sure what type of doctor you need, ask an American friend, or call a doctor referral service (listed under "Physicians' & Surgeons' Referral & Information Services" in the yellow pages).

How do I make a doctor's appointment?

To make a doctor's appointment, telephone your campus health center or the doctor's office during the office's regular business hours (the office may have a separate after-hours telephone number for emergency situations). You will need to tell the person who answers the telephone your name, which doctor you want to see (many doctors share offices), and why you want to see the doctor.

If you need to see a doctor for an illness or injury that requires immediate attention, the office will usually make an appointment for that day. You may have to see a different doctor in the office if your doctor is not available. If the illness or injury is serious, the doctor's office may send you directly to the emergency room at the campus health center, a local hospital, or a special minor emergency care clinic.

If you want to see a doctor for a checkup (a periodic appointment, usually once a year, when the doctor gives you an examination to determine your general health status) or some other reason that does not require immediate attention, you may have to wait several days or weeks to see the doctor.

What should I do in an emergency?

What you do in a medical emergency depends upon the type of emergency. If you have a minor injury or illness that requires immediate attention but can be handled at a doctor's office, a minor emergency care center, or the campus health clinic, first try to contact the doctor or clinic by telephone, and you will be told what to do next.

For injuries or illnesses that are serious, but not life-threatening, first try to contact the doctor by telephone. If you cannot reach the doctor, telephone your hospital's emergency room. Your doctor or the emergency room will tell you what to do next.

For life-threatening injuries or illnesses or for a serious medical emergency in which a person cannot or should not be moved, contact an ambulance by dialing 911 (if your area does not have 911 service, call the ambulance service directly).

In any case, become familiar with the locations of the hospital emergency rooms, minor emergency care centers, and ambulance services closest to your home.

Do I need health insurance?

Unlike many countries, the United States does not have a national medical care program which pays for all health care. Since individuals are responsible for paying for their own medical expenses-and these expenses can be high-most Americans purchase health insurance, which pays for medical costs.

Even if you have insurance from your own country, you may need to purchase additional insurance in the United States. Ask your foreign student adviser or an insurance agent whether the school or the insurance company offers a special insurance policy for international students.

When purchasing health insurance, like automobile insurance (see "Will I need to buy car insurance" on page 11), you pay premiums based upon what types of medical expenses are covered under the policy (most policies do not pay for routine examinations or dental or eye care) and the amount of your deductible. Under health insurance deductibles, you pay a certain amount of medical expenses, and then the insurance company pays any expenses above that amount incurred throughout that year. Like automobile insurance, the higher your deductible, the lower your premiums will be.

Where can I get my prescriptions filled?

A prescription is medicine that a doctor determines you should take. The doctor gives you a slip of paper which you take to a pharmacist. You can only get prescription medication from a pharmacist at a pharmacy, which can be found in most drug stores, grocery stores, or discount stores.

As mentioned in the "SHOPPING" section, you can ask the pharmacist for "generic" medication, which is cheaper than regular brands. As with all shopping, we suggest you compare prices at different pharmacies to find the lowest price.

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