Healthcare in America 101

The health care system in the United States may be very different from the health care system in your home country. For example, in China, patients usually walk in whenever they need to see a doctor and all payments are made before they leave.

International students may find the information below helpful. The points below are general to health care in the U.S. but do not apply to all cases.

  1. You typically need to make an appointment to see a doctor in America. Unless you are visiting a walk-in urgent care clinic or an emergency room, you will need to schedule an appointment before seeing a doctor in the U.S.
  2. You typically need a referral to see a specialist, such as a dermatologist, allergist or physical therapist. This means you will need to ask your primary care doctor for a referral before you can see the specialist. You do not need a referral to see a gynecologist or mental health counselor.
  3. You may have a small fee or co-pay at the time of your visit. If you are on the Aetna plan and are confused about your bill, contact the USC Student Health Insurance Office.