Finding a Primary Care Physician Outside of Storrs Campus
Students enrolled at regional UConn campuses, visiting scholars, or accompanying family members of students, need to seek medical care outside of the University system. If you will stay in the United States for a long time, you should establish a primary care physician (PCP) for yourself and/or any accompanying family members. This doctor is “your” doctor, and usually your first point of contact for a non-emergency medical situation. Your health insurance provider may provide a list of doctors on their website who accept your insurance, and you can do research and call medical providers to find out if they are accepting new patients. Not all doctors will accept new patients, because sometimes they are at capacity.
If you have children, your children’s doctor could be different than your own. Most children see a pediatrician (child’s doctor), or if your PCP is a “Family Practice” doctor, they will see both children and adults.
If you will not stay very long (less than a year or so) then it may be easier to rely on the medical services provided by Urgent Care or Walk-In clinics. These are medical offices where you can see a doctor without being an established patient with that clinic.
When someone is sick, call your PCP or Urgent Care clinic and explain the symptoms and that you would like to see a doctor. The receptionist will tell you if they have time available in that day to see you. Depending on your symptoms, you might not see your actual doctor. It is possible to also meet with a nurse or physician’s assistant who is affiliated with your doctor’s practice.
If your doctor’s office is not open, and you have urgent (non-emergency) symptoms, you can visit an Urgent Care of Walk-In Clinic. Many offer after-hour services. For these offices, you generally do not need an appointment, although it can be helpful to call and ask them if you should come in at a certain time. Sometimes they still give appointments to those who call, and those people will have priority over those without appointments.
For most medical visits, you will need to pay a co-pay, which is a fee associated with your visit, and not covered by insurance. Some insurance plans also carry a deductible, which means there is a certain amount that you have to pay for medical care yourself, before insurance covers medical costs. Insurance plans that are less expensive often carry a high deductible as a consequence.
Sometimes you will have a bill mailed to you after your visit for your co-pay or other expenses associated with the appointment that insurance does not cover. You need to make sure to pay this bill on-time.
If you need medication, you will need to go to a pharmacy outside of your medical clinic or doctor’s office. When you visit the doctor, be prepared to tell them what pharmacy you want to use. You can select any pharmacy that you wish. Most choose one close to their home.
In the United States, emergency room services at the hospital are usually reserved for medical emergencies, although they will not refuse your care if not an emergency. If you are unsure whether you are experiencing an emergency, it is best to go to the hospital to be safe. If safe to do so, you can also call your doctor's office or insurance company to see if there is an on-call nurse or doctor who can evaluate your medical situation, and recommend whether to go to the hospital or not.
Hospital visits are very expensive. If your emergency room visit turns out to be not an emergency, this can result in an expensive bill, depending on your insurance plan. However, if you think it may be an emergency, it is better to go than not. Once at the hospital, you will be asked to complete paperwork, and depending on the urgency of your case, you could wait in the waiting room until a doctor is available to see you.
In the event that an ambulance is called to transport you to the hospital, the ambulance costs may or may not be covered by your insurance.
Women’s health is an area of health services related to women’s reproductive systems and sexual health. In the U.S., women are advised to be screened regularly for reproductive health . SHaW at UConn provides women's health services. Women who do not use SHaW as their primary medical provider may choose to see both a primary care physician (PCP) for general health, and a gynecologist for specialist care OR sometimes the PCP also provides reproductive health services. Again, check your health insurance to see which doctors are covered through your insurance. Gynecologists can also prescribe and counsel on birth control and provide testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Abortion is legal in Connecticut up to a certain point in the pregnancy, but is only provided by certain doctors and clinics.
If you or your spouse become pregnant while in the United States, make an appointment with an obstetrician doctor as soon as possible for prenatal care. Many women’s health providers offer both gynecology and obstetric services. Some providers also offer midwife services. In the U.S. it is common to see the obstetrician monthly until you get closer to the end of your pregnancy, when you will see them bi-weekly, and then weekly. Please see the Uconn overview of Pregnant and Parenting Resources for all students, faculty and staff.
In the U.S., "over the counter" medications that do not require a prescription can be purchased at drugstores, supermarkets or department stores. Many of these stores also have a pharmacy where you pick up your prescribed medications. If you visit an off-campus doctor, you will need to tell them where you want to pick up your prescriptions. Pharmacists can answer questions about your prescribed medications, as well as “over the counter” medications that are available in-store.
If you will be here for a longer period without plans to return home during the break, you may want to find a dentist for regular cleanings. UConn offers a stand alone dental insurance plan that students may purchase. Most U.S. dental patients have regular preventative cleanings (once or twice per year) and the insurance will cover some costs associated with other dental work. To find a dentist, you can look for locations close to you or accessible by public transportation, and call to ask if they are accepting new patients.