Basics of Healthcare in the U.S

Healthcare in the United States is a very complex subject so this is a broad overview of some key things to keep in mind.

  • Dental services and eye-care/vision are typically outside the scope of general health insurance. That means that dental and eye-care (vision) services require either out-of-pocket payment and/or a separate insurance plan.
  • Mental health services are sometimes covered in the general health insurance.
  • Prescriptions are typically provided through pharmacies. The extent of coverage for prescription is detailed in your health insurance plan document.
  • Christian Science care is covered by some health insurance plans.

Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

“Urgent” and “emergency” may communicate a similar message: i.e. an issue needing to be addressed right away. But there is a subtle difference. Urgent care centers or walk-in clinics are suitable for situations, such as an injury, that may require quick attention but they are not severe enough to warrant emergency services. An example may be, say, an ache on your shoulder that you want to get checked. Emergency room (ER) services, on the other hand, are best suited for severe heath situations. ER services typically cost more.

How to utilize Health Insurance

All students enrolled at Principia College are required to have health insurance. Unless you waive your participation, you are automatically enrolled in the group plan provided through Principia.

Before using health insurance, it is important to familiarize yourself with what is covered by your insurance plan. Your insurance plan may have “in network” and “out of network” providers for various services. Generally, insurance covers more of the healthcare cost within the network than outside the network. The insurance plan document will have information on how to find out if a service provider is within the network. Then the other concepts you will want to familiarize yourself with, which you will see in the plan document, are:

To use your health insurance, a health care provider will typically ask for certain pieces of information on your insurance card. If you are using the health insurance plan provided for international students through Principia College, you can retrieve your insurance card from the ISO health insurance portal