The U.S. insurance and health care system is often confusing to international students and is usually very different from that of their home countries. For example, a “national” health insurance plan is not available for all U.S. citizens or international students.
Insurance for each student begins at the start of the semester and runs until the day before the next semester starts. So, if you arrive for fall semester, your insurance will begin in August and end mid-January.
Boynton Student Health Benefit Plan
Medical expenses in the U.S. can be extremely high—one day in the hospital can cost well over $10,000—even for routine care. To prevent international students from worrying about their health and being responsible for high medical bills, the University requires all international students to carry the University’s Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). The SHBP will cover most costs, typically 80%-100% of your medical bills. You may often end up paying just $10 per office visit, called a “co-payment.”
Exchange students will be automatically enrolled in the SHBP. You should NOT purchase alternative U.S. health insurance from a private insurance company.
Types of Care
Boynton Health Service is a primary care provider conveniently located on the University of Minnesota campus. Boynton’s services include primary and urgent care, mental health care, dental and eye clinics, a pharmacy, a women’s clinic, physical therapy, and more. Free flu shots are available at Boynton too.
Boynton Health Services has a checklist for international students.
Learn about the different types of health care services you will find at Boynton.
Urgent Care (After Hours)
When you have a non-emergency illness, minor injuries, or discomfort, call Boynton’s Medical Information Nurse at 612-625-7900 (phone answered 24 hours a day) to find what type of service you might need.
You can also visit an urgent care provider without an appointment. Fairview Urgent and Same-Day Care is available at various locations. You can also find additional urgent care providers or a network doctor, clinic, or hospital.
Do not go to an emergency room unless your condition is a true emergency.
Emergency Medical Assistance
If you need emergency medical assistance or an ambulance, call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency room.
The Student Health Benefit Plan covers prescription drugs only when dispensed at the Boynton Health Service Pharmacy, so it is recommended that you get medicines prescribed by your doctor to be filled at the Boynton Pharmacy. More information on Pharmacy Benefits is available at the SHBP website.
When appropriate, you might want to purchase Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicine for times when you have mild cold symptoms, a minor stomach issue, or mild pain. OTC drugs do not require a doctor’s prescription, and you can purchase them at pharmacies and grocery or convenience stores. OTC medicines are not covered by the Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) but may save you time and money.
In the U.S., it is very common to seek counseling services or mental health assistance when people experience stress, loneliness, helplessness, homesickness, depression, sleep problems, eating disorders, and anxiety in daily life. It is also quite normal for international students to experience those feelings because of difficulties with cultural adjustment, communication in English, new friendships and relationships, and studying in a new cultural context. We discuss cultural adjustment or culture shock more here.
Students may seek care at the Boynton Mental Health Clinic. Another option is the University Counseling and Consulting Services, which is fully confidential and free of charge for Minnesota Semester and Summer Session Students. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is also committed to providing counseling and referral services for the international community on campus.
Other helpful counseling and mental health resources at the University include: