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Health Care In The United States

Health care in the United States is modern and scientific.

Physicians, clinics, and pharmaceutical companies seek the newest and most advanced treatments. Patients expect their doctors to use the most modern methods of diagnosis and treatment so that their symptoms can be identified and their illnesses treated quickly and effectively. Technology plays an important role in specialty care and in the diagnosis and treatment of illness.

The philosophy of U.S. health care emphasizes identifying physical symptoms, finding their causes, and treating them.

Medical care in the United States is based on the western idea that illness is a physiological condition. Historically, U.S. health care providers have not been trained to consider the relationships among mind, body, and spirit; health care in this country has, instead, focused on isolating problems and finding treatments for specific physical conditions.

The type of holistic approach to medicine often found in other parts of the world is not commonly available in the United States.

Health care resources on campus:

The Athens Family Practice is conveniently located adjacent to campus and provides out-patient medical treatment with nurses, a Physician’s Assistant, and physician coverage. If possible, go to the Athens Family Practice for treatment. It is faster, more efficient, more personal, and less expensive than any other option available.

The posted daytime office hours are 8:30 – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Patients are strongly encouraged to make an appointment when possible for prompt service. Students are expected to submit physical examinations and immunization reports prior to enrollment. All students must present a current validated Concord University ID prior to receiving medical treatment at the Athens Family Practice. Students who have medical insurance should take a copy of their current medical insurance information.

Accidents or serious illnesses that occur during hours when the Athens Medical Center is closed are referred to the emergency room at Princeton Community Hospital (approximately 8 miles from campus), which provides 24-hour emergency services. Hospital emergency rooms are reserved for critical medical emergencies. They are prepared to provide treatment for life-threatening and critical situations, such as uncontrolled bleeding, broken bones, high fevers, dehydration, unconsciousness, and seizures. If you seek care in a hospital emergency room for minor problems, you will probably have a long wait, impersonal care, and a large bill. All students receiving medical care from local providers must assume the responsibility of payment directly to the physician or hospital from personal funds.

Paying for Health Care in the United States

Health care costs, including hospital and clinic charges and doctors’ fees are determined by market economics. Treatment is provided on a “fee for service” basis. Payment is due when the service is rendered, using personal funds or previously-purchased medical insurance.

You are responsible for payment of your health care costs, just like everyone else in the United States. In some cases you may be refused medical care and services if you are unable to pay for them.

There is no universal national health care insurance plan in the United States. Americans must arrange for their own medical insurance; most do so through their employers, or by purchasing private policies for themselves and their families.

It is a violation of immigration law for nonimmigrants (Including F-1, F-2, J-1, and J-2 students and dependents) to accept public assistance, even for medical care. In some cases, accepting such assistance could prevent you from securing a visa abroad or reentering the United States.

You need medical insurance that will cover you (and your dependents) every day during your study and travel in the United States.

Getting Health Care in the United States

When you visit a doctor or clinic, the procedures may be unfamiliar to you. In the United States, doctors and other health care professionals value efficiency and thoroughness, often more than expressing personal concern.

You may meet with a nurse or physician’s assistant, who will probably take your temperature, blood pressure, weight, and other measurements; she or he will probably ask many questions about the reason for your visit. In some cases, the nurse or physician’s assistant will conduct the examination and provide treatment. If so, it is because your condition is a common one, the treatment routine, and the practitioner full trained to provide the appropriate care.

Nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals will expect you to explain your symptoms and conditions objectively, even if you are uncomfortable or intimidated. Always tell the truth and give complete and detailed information.

If you have questions about your condition, treatment, or medical options, asks the doctor, nurse or medical professional. It is common in the United States for patients to ask about the medical procedures, options, treatments, and cost of care, and to express preferences about which treatment and medications are prescribed.

You may feel comfortable treating common or minor illnesses with familiar remedies brought from home or purchased from a pharmacy.

Different countries have different laws about which medications may be sold without a doctor’s prescription. In the United States, medications available without a prescription at pharmacies, supermarkets, and other retailers are called “over-the-counter” medications.
You may find that the remedies familiar to you from home are not available in the United States, are sold in a different strength, or require a doctor’s prescription.
For assistance in selecting an over-the-counter medication, consult with a pharmacist (at any location where prescriptions can be filled) for assistance. Pharmacists are highly trained and must be licensed in the United States. They can help you understand the many available over-the counter options and are also available to answer questions about prescription medications.
If your temperature is higher than 100 degrees F or 38 degrees C or if your condition does not improve within 24 hours, seek advice at the Athens Family Practice. You might require prescription medication or other treatment available only from a physician. Be sure to let the physician or nurse know what medications and treatments you have administered already so he or she can provide you with the best possible care.


Confidentiality between physician and patient is one of the most important and valued aspects of the U.S. health care system.

Medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and other health care providers respect the privacy of the patients they treat. A physician in the United States is not permitted to contact your family, friends, or anyone else to discuss your medical condition, symptoms, illness, or treatment unless you have first authorized him or her to do so.

The same rules that govern confidentiality between physicians and their patients also apply to discussions between psychologist and their clients. The information you discuss with a psychologist is protected by law and is not shared unless you give written permission.

Seeking Counseling for Emotional Health

In some countries, it is uncommon for people to turn to professional counselors for help with their personal difficulties; in these countries, people usually rely on their family members and long-time friends for assistance and support. In the United States, though, many people seek help from counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals for support in overcoming challenges.

Concord University has a counseling center which provides services to all currently enrolled students. A professional counselor is available to discuss personal concerns. The counselor is trained to work with students on the concerns and issues they face during their years in school. Such issues include adjustment to college, social relationships, sexual issues, identity concerns, coping with loss, grief and death, stress, eating disorders, alcohol and drug use, sexual abuse (including childhood sexual abuse and rape survival) family concerns, and many other matters.

Information you share with psychologists and other counselors is generally treated as confidential. This means that your academic advisor, international student advisor, friends, family, and even your doctor cannot learn about your discussions unless you tell the counselor that he or she can discuss your case.


Created on Dec 7, 2011. Report incorrect information.