The American Healthcare System

Traveling through the tangled forest of the American healthcare system can be very tricky, even for Americans. So for international students, it can be well, a foreign experience. But let’s face it: life happens and sometimes you just need medical help. Here are a few tips to guide you through the American Healthcare system. With any luck, you’ll come through the forest on the other side unscathed.

Do your research

  • Know what kind of health services are offered by your university.
    • If your university has a student clinic included in tuition, take advantage of that resource.
    • Often universities require international students to purchase health insurance. What kind of health insurance you need will depend on variables that may include: your age, your current health, your medical history, the state you are studying in and other possible factors. You can find companies that provide insurance for international students online. Many universities will even set this up for you and include it in your tuition. Contact your international student advisor to learn more about their policies, what they offer, and how they can help you select a plan.
  • Ask a doctor at home about any steps they think you should take before leaving the country. Depending on your home country, they may know your personal and family history and can advise you along those lines. However, whether this is the case or not, they will have still insights into the medical field and the healthcare system that may be helpful to know.

The internet is not a doctor!
No matter what is wrong with you, small or big, your search results will most likely lead you to think that you have cancer, leprosy, or some incurable disease that leads to death. This will not help your anxiety in the moment or your wallet in the future. When searching online search wisely. Don’t just take the first thing you read as fact.

What’s the deal with health insurance?
It is helpful to know that health insurance exists because of the high cost of healthcare. You pay your insurance company smaller sums of money (usually monthly) so that they can take some of the financial burden off your shoulders if a medical problem is to arise. But Health Insurance can be confusing! There are so many terms and figures that it’s hard to make sense of it all. Here is a breakdown of some of the terms you’ll need to know.

  • Deductible – this is the amount that you pay for health care services before your health insurance begins making payments for medical services.
  • Coinsurance – this is what you will pay towards the costs of a health care service after you’ve paid enough to meet your plan’s deductible. Usually a percentage, such as 20% of the cost.
  • Co-Pay – this is a fixed amount that you pay when you receive a health care service. The amount can vary by the type of service. Your plan determines what your copay is for different types of services and when you have one.

Remember, there are so many variables when it comes to each person’s health so continue to research this topic and ask for help when you need it.


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