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