In this short video we will provide an
overview of the US healthcare system and how to seek medical treatment. The first step is what to do before you leave home. Healthcare checklist. Before you travel. Before you travel to the US, they are some simple things you can do
that will make your life much easier and could prevent you from having
to pay for things that are typically not covered under international student
insurance plans. Visit a doctor. Go to your doctor and have a checkup before
you travel and make sure all your vaccinations and immunizations are up-to-date. If
you are currently taking any prescription medication, make sure to bring a good supply with you along with your doctor’s notes for those medications. Before you
leave your home country, it is a good idea to check what items are prohibited
by the US Customs and Border Protection. You can check their website using the
following link. Eye doctor. It’s also a good idea to get an eye checkup before
you travel and make sure you have current prescription glasses and
contact lenses. Dentist. Make that visit to the dentist you have been putting off.
Dental costs in the US can be very expensive; and, sometimes only a portion of
your costs will be covered by insurance. With some advanced planning and preparation, you can
avoid a bit of the healthcare expenses when you are abroad. “I need to see a doctor.
What do I do?” When you get sick or injured where do you seek care? The medical system in the US is made up of a mixture of many different types of providers. Large and small hospitals,
emergency rooms, private doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, walk-in clinics, specialists’ offices, surgery centers, pharmacies, and our favorite, the on-campus
student health center, otherwise known as the University Health Services, UHS, or the Tang Center. What options do I have? The best place to
start, if at all possible, is the Tang Center. Even if you waive out of the UC
Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan (or SHIP), services at the Tang Center are available at reduced costs (or even free), are close
and convenient, and (even if you end up having to go somewhere else later) will save you some money. If you have
SHIP, which is the case for most Berkeley students, then you also have access to a twenty-four
hour, seven-days-a-week Nurse Help Line that you can always call for advice for
free. Their number is 800 681 4065. Even if you do
not have SHIP, you can call the Tang Advice Nurse at 510 643 7197. Urgent care
clinics. In the event that the Tang Center is closed, another more convenient option is a walk-in clinic, or urgent care center. With long opening hours, no appointment required, and an ability to deal with a wide variety of medical issues, these retail providers have become
extremely popular. They can cost a little bit more than a doctor’s office but much
less than an emergency room. They typically accept a wide variety of insurance plans. For a list of urgent care centers near campus, please visit the website below. Local doctors’ offices are
another good option. Often called general practitioners or family
doctors, these offices typically require an appointment, and some doctors may not
accept new or short-term patients. Again, start with the Tang Center, and
then visit a doctor’s office upon referral from one of the Tang Center’s
licensed healthcare providers. Emergency room. The main thing to do is, if at all possible, stay out of the emergency room. Emergency rooms in the US are very expensive and are
designed for life threatening or very severe illness and injuries. If you have the flu or a minor cut, you can go to the Tang Center or an urgent care center for a fraction of the cost
of the emergency room. Of course, for serious or life threatening illness and injuries, go straight to the emergency room connected to your local hospital. They will
be prepared to deal with any problem you have and will either treat you, release you, admit you, or refer you to another facility. It won’t be cheap, and it won’t be quick, but you are in the right place for a serious case. A
list of local hospitals can also be found on the website below. Pharmacies. A doctor at the Tang Center, in an office, urgent care center, or hospital may write you a
prescription for medication. In this case, you will need to go to a local pharmacy to
get the prescription filled. The Tang Center offers pharmacy services. Medical care in
the US: How much does it cost? and– How to Pay The US healthcare system offers
some of the best medical care in the world, but it is complex, difficult to
navigate, and often very expensive. The US healthcare system is also likely very different from the system
you are used to back home. There is no universal access or national healthcare like many
countries offer. When you seek any medical care, the providers you choose will look to you and your insurance carrier to get paid for their services. Like most Americans, you will
need a private insurance plan. As a UC Berkeley student, the student health insurance
plan mentioned earlier is already included in the University fees. With any type of insurance, including SHIP, you
should still be prepared to pay some portion of the cost of your medical care. Cost-sharing is an important element of
the US healthcare system, so medical care is never entirely free, and each time
you access the system, you should expect some costs. While your insurance plan
will typically cover the majority of expenses, there will be co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance or some combination of these items. Carefully review your insurance
documentation, so you understand how those payments work for your plan. The Student Health Insurance Office at the Tang Center can answer questions about what these terms mean. To review: First, prepare before you travel. Second, know where to go when you are sick or injured. Last, but not least, make
sure you have insurance. And, always remember, the Tang Center is the
first stop. Only visit an emergency room when you have a true emergency. We hope you have found the information in this video helpful, and that you have a better
understanding of the healthcare system in the US.