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Welcome to Birmingham! We are glad you’re here. We know that the US healthcare system can be very different from others around the world, and this can cause confusion. Below is some information you may find helpful:

  • Getting Healthcare in the US

    Getting Healthcare in the US

    In the US, most routine health care takes place in clinics. This is also called “outpatient” care (as opposed to “inpatient” care, which means being admitted to the hospital for a longer stay.) Most of these clinics require an appointment, and many specialty clinics require a referral from a primary care provider. Some clinics will see you without an appointment, which is called a “walk-in” visit. Often, these are “urgent care” clinics, which are specifically designed for acute but not life-threatening illnesses, and most of the time don’t provide ongoing routine care.

    In the US, emergency-room (“ER”) and hospital-based care is very effective for treating life-threatening conditions, but is also very expensive, and therefore it is not recommended to go to the ER unless you’re concerned that you have a life-threatening illness. If you’re not sure where to go, this page can offer some guidance: https://www.uab.edu/students/health/emergencies

    Student Health Services operates on an appointment basis. It is always best to call ahead or book your visit online, but if you need to come in to speak with the staff about a concern, you can speak to a nurse and decide how soon you need to be seen, and we will fit you into the soonest available appointment to address your need. Rarely, an appointment is not available under the appropriate timeline and we may refer you to an Urgent Care clinic.

  • Health Insurance and Payments in the US

    Health Insurance and Payments in the US

    Healthcare is paid for primarily through health insurance in the US. Most students at UAB are required to have health insurance that meets standards set by the Affordable Care Act. To use your health insurance, you present your insurance information when you visit a healthcare provider, and then after the visit, the healthcare provider submits a claim for the services provided to your insurer. The insurance company will then pay the portion of the claim that is covered under your policy. There is usually a portion that you have to pay as well, in the form of co-pays, deductibles, and the cost for any non-

    covered services. Because insurers and hospitals and clinics each have unique contracts, in which rates for services have been agreed upon, it is often very difficult for an individual provider to give you a completely accurate price for a service in advance, due to the numbers of different contracts and rates. However, our billing specialists are usually able to provide an estimated amount. Please take a few minutes to review these videos for more information on insurance and billing: https://www.uab.edu/students/health/billing/payment

  • Prescriptions in the US

    Prescriptions in the US

    Prescription medications in the US must be prescribed by a US-licensed health care provider (doctor, dentist, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant) and this requires a visit to see that healthcare provider. Pharmacists fill these prescriptions and can provide additional helpful education about medication, but do not write the prescriptions themselves. Pharmacists work out of pharmacies in the US, which often look like a small grocery or convenience store, and sell other items like cosmetics and household supplies. Most grocery stores also have a pharmacy inside the store. Common pharmacies in our area are Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, Publix, as well as local pharmacies such as Birmingham Apothecary, Homewood Pharmacy, and Crestline Pharmacy. Many helpful medicines in the US are also available at the pharmacy with no prescription, which is called “over the counter” or “OTC.” Please review the PDF on “Over the Counter Medications” here:

  • Immunization Clearance

    Immunization Clearance

    All students at UAB are required to complete pre-matriculation immunization requirements. Most of these requirements can be completed in your home country prior to arrival. The only exception is that Tb testing (skin testing, blood testing, and chest x-ray if applicable) must be performed in the US after you get here. Please review the following site for detailed information on what immunization requirements will apply to you: https://www.uab.edu/students/health/medical-clearance/immunizations

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