Studying in the United States can be a once in a lifetime experience, but preparing for your time abroad can also be a stressful and overwhelming process. Between getting your visa processed, booking your plane ticket, preparing to start classes and setting up your living arrangements, there are many things to remember when planning for your time in the United States. Taking care of your health before you leave your home country is one of the most important things to remember, but with so many things to do, it’s not always a priority. There are some simple things you can do before arriving in the US to make your life much easier, and with some advanced planning, you can prevent having to pay out of pocket for medical expenses that are not covered under your international student insurance plan. To help you get started, follow this medical checklist before you travel to the USA to ensure a stress free time abroad!
- General Check Up’s and Immunizations: Before traveling to the United States, it is important to go to your doctor for a general check up to make sure that you are in good health and that your immunizations are up to date. Most schools in the US require specific immunizations before you can enroll in classes, and it is usually more cost effective to take care of these before you have departed your home country. The most common vaccinations that most colleges and universities require international students to have include the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), as well as a Tuberculosis Screening. Remember that each school is different, so you will want to check with your school to ensure that you are meeting the necessary requirements!
- Dental Care: Routine dental care in the United States can be very expensive, and is typically not covered under your international health insurance plan. Before coming to the US, take the time to go to your dentist for an annual cleaning. Some international health insurance plans will offer limited coverage for dental treatment due to accident or to alleviate pain, but standard routine cleanings and procedures are normally excluded from coverage and would be an out of pocket expense for you in the US.
- Vision Care: Eye examinations are also typically not covered under international health insurance plans, so we would suggest getting your vision checked before your arrival in the United States. This is especially important if you have prescription glasses or if you wear contacts. You will want to make sure that you have at least one pair of your prescription glasses with you (a back-up pair is always a good idea!), and at least a full year’s supply of contacts.
- Prescription Medications: Most international health insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions right away (if at all). This means that any medications that you are prescribed before the start date of your insurance plan will likely not be covered! Before leaving for the United States, you should ask your doctor to prescribe a longer supply of your medication to take with you while you are in the US. Remember – it is important to bring your doctors notes and a copy of your prescriptions with you when traveling.
- Big Procedures: As mentioned, most international health insurance plans do not include coverage for pre-existing conditions. Just like with prescription medication, if you know of any big procedures, like a surgery, that you need to have prior to the start date of your insurance plan, it would more than likely fall under the category of a pre-existing condition and would not be covered. Any major procedures should be taken care of before you leave your home country, as major medical treatment can be very expensive in the United States.
Following these steps will make your time in the United States much less stressful, as you won’t have to worry about potentially paying for uncovered medical expenses. We know that health insurance in the United States can seem complicated, which is why we’ve created a short video overview to help you navigate the US Healthcare system as an international student. Make sure to check out the video here!