The U.S. healthcare system is difficult to understand, even for Americans. New and pending legislation within the federal government complicates matters even further. Seek advice of trusted friends and relatives to learn about the best option for your particular situation. The system in the States is one of the best (and most expensive) in the world. Unusual health hazards in the United States are rare; tap water, for example, is safe to drink nationwide. The 911 or 0 (zero) emergency telephone system is also widely available. Quality healthcare is available everywhere in the country from a variety of sources. The key lies in knowing the proper procedures and knowing where to go for specific kinds of care. This knowledge can save an international visitor significant amounts of time and money. Because healthcare for a major accident or illness can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, most Americans have health insurance to minimize the costs.
When looking for healthcare in Houston, there are a variety of options available. There are 24 hour non-urgent care clinics, emergency rooms, private physicians, and specialty clinics all over Houston. With all of the choices available, deciding where to go or who to see may seem intimidating. To help you make an informed decision, consider asking a friend or coworker who they see for healthcare. For convenience, consider finding a healthcare provider close to your home or work. Healthcare in the United States can be quite expensive, and all of these facilities will require some form of insurance coverage or payment for services rendered during the visit. It is important that you become aware of your insurance provider’s specifications for treatment before you need medical assistance. Also, if possible, you should look at a variety of medical centers before deciding upon one to provide you with care. Questions to ask both your insurance provider and the medical facility you are considering using might include:
- What is my deductible (the amount of a loss that an insurance policy holder has to pay out-of-pocket before reimbursement begins in accordance with the coinsurance rate.)?
- Does this medical facility accept my insurance?
- What medical treatments/services are covered by my medical insurance?
- Are there any pre-existing conditions that might limit or restrict the amount of insurance I am able to obtain?
- Are my medications covered under my health insurance plan, or will I need supplemental coverage?
- If I am covered by a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and I use an out-of-network facility or physician (not covered by insurance), how much will I be expected to pay?
- Do I pay the medical facility at the time of service or am I billed? If I pay at the time of service, will my insurance provider reimburse me?
Texas Medical Center
Three miles from the University of Houston lies the Texas Medical Center. Established in the 1930s, this facility has grown and evolved over the years to become one of the world’s finest medical centers. Over 42 member institutions, including 13 hospitals and 2 specialized patient facilities, make up the medical center. In 2004, 5.2 million patients were treated by various members and facilities tied to the medical center. Of that 5.2 million, 10,456 of those patients were of international origin. The 6,344 bed Texas Medical Center employs over 4,000 physicians, 11,000 registered nurses, and assists with the training and education of over 22,000 students. The University of Houston College of Pharmacy has a building in the Center and Methodist Hospital, a part of the Medical Center, has recently become affiliated with the University. This partnership will increase the amount of medical research performed at both institutions. Below are some links to facilities in the Medical Center:
What to do in a Medical Emergency?
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, do not worry about whether or not the hospital you are going to will accept your insurance. Go to the nearest hospital or dial 911.
The International Student Health Care provides information regarding insurance for international visitors.
For information regarding Houston area hospitals/medical centers, please go to Houston Area Hospitals.
Of course, anyone can come to the University of Houston Health Center, located at entrance 6 (six) off of Wheeler Blvd. Please keep in mind, however, that the Health Center accepts only student health insurance. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us at 713-743-5151.
Thank you and welcome to Houston!