New Comer > Health Insurance

International students are required to have health insurance. If you have assistantship, it may pay a big chunk of your health insurance cost.

Ask people around you to understand your choices. Keep in mind that if you choose a HMO type of insurance program, you will be asked to choose a doctor, who is called your primary care physician (PCP). Then each time you want to see a doctor, you will need to go to your PCP first (unless it's an emergency). If you situation requires treatment or test that is beyond your PCP's capacity, s/he will refer you to a specialty doctor or a hospital.

Many programs have co-pay, which is the amount of money you will pay each time you see a doctor. It's usually $10-20.

Prescription drug plan is separate. In US, there are over-the-counter drugs, and prescription drugs. The former is available in store and everyone can buy them. The later is only available for people whose name appears on the prescription written by a doctor. Prescription drugs can be rather expensive. Usually if you will need prescription drugs once a year, it's worth it to purchase the plan.

Dental plan is also separate. It's very expensive to have your teeth taken care of by an American dentist. Even if you purchase the plan, you may still need to pay big bucks for dental work. Unless it's an emergency, you may be better off flying back to China to get it done.

If you have health insurance benefits with your assistantship, you will have your part of the health insurance cost deducted from each paycheck. Otherwise, your need to pay the premium once every six months or a year.

 
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