Information for International Students
Healthcare in the U.S. can be very costly. U.S. citizens cover the costs of healthcare by purchasing private health insurance. Unlike many countries around the world, U.S. health insurance is privatized, which means it is not free through the government.
UMass Boston requires that all international students purchase the school’s health insurance to avoid the burden of significant expenses should healthcare be required. You may waive out of the University Student Health Insurance Plan if comparable coverage is provided by an alternate U.S.-issued insurance plan- this is determined by the Bursar’s Office. At an additional cost, family members can be enrolled in the school insurance.
With the UMass Boston school insurance, you can seek care at University Health Services (UHS) or any healthcare facility both in Massachusetts or outside the state (see below regarding in and out-of-network providers). Keep your insurance card with you at all times in case it is needed.
The General Medicine phone line (617-287-5660) is a 24-hour phone line - if we are closed (such as at night, on weekends, or on holidays) there is a nurse on-call who can advise you if you should be seen in the emergency room or wait until UHS is open again.
Important Health Coverage and Medical Terms
University Health Plans shares an extensive list of commonly used terms.
In the US, certain medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, must be obtained from a doctor who writes a prescription. The procedure is that a health care provider writes a prescription that goes to the pharmacist who dispenses the medication. You will need your insurance card at the pharmacy to help pay for the medicine. Pharmacists cannot prescribe medications, only fill prescriptions. American pharmacies are often referred to as “drugstores,” though they may look more like convenience stores or small supermarkets with separate areas where you can pick up your prescriptions. Common drugstore chains in Massachusetts include OSCO, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.
Many “over-the-counter” products in the US may have different names from what you are used to at home. "Over-the-counter” (OTC) refers to things you do not need a prescription for. For example, cotton buds or cotton swabs are often referred to by the brand name Q-Tip. If you ask for an adhesive bandage, you will be directed to the Band-Aids. Similarly, many common, over-the-counter medicines will be sold under different brand names in the US.
You can look up the international drug name and see if there is a US equivalent here. There are drugs that exist in the US that do not exist in other countries and vice versa.
Important Numbers to Know
|For questions about insurance and any bill you get from University Health Services||
UHS General Medicine
|For insurance charges on bill or assistance with the enrollment/waiver process||
|To request your insurance member ID, update your address, or ask about general plan information||
University Health Plans (UHP)
|For specific questions regarding Blue Cross Blue Shield benefits or claims||
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
|For specific questions regarding Wellfleet benefits or claims||