Finding the right doctor’s office for you and your family

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As a resettled refugee, you will visit a doctor’s office during your first month in the United States.

Your caseworker will schedule your first doctor’s appointments. But you may need to find another doctor and different doctor’s office for you and your family in the future.

Doctors in the United States are very expensive. But many cities and neighborhoods have a doctor’s office that gives medical care more cheaply to people who do not have much money. This kind of doctor’s office is usually called a community health center. Other names are affordable health center, community health clinic, and affordable healthcare.

In places where there are many newcomers, some community health centers offer special services for refugees or immigrants or both. They may have staff who speak your language.

Most health centers ask you to make an appointment before you come. You can call the doctor’s office to make an appointment. When you make an appointment, you will answer questions about your income and health insurance.

Do you have health insurance?

You may have a health insurance card that you received when you arrived in America. Your health insurance should cover all or most of the cost of your medical care. 

If you have health insurance, call the customer service number on your insurance card before you make a doctor’s appointment. Explain to the health insurance worker why you need a doctor. Ask them to help you find the right doctor. Ask if you need to pay any amounts towards the doctor’s bill.

If you do not have health insurance, talk to your caseworker about getting insurance. If you do not have a caseworker, you may be able to get health insurance yourself.

Primary care doctors and specialists

A primary care doctor is the doctor you see for regular health checks. If you are unwell and need a doctor, you will start with your primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor may send you to a medical specialist if they can’t treat you or if they want you to be tested for something. Specialists have one area of medicine, such as bones, or hearts, or having babies.

You can check online to see ratings of primary care doctors and specialist. A rating is a score that patients give the doctor online. Some doctors have bad ratings from their patients. If the majority of a doctor’s reviews are bad, maybe you can find someone else. Ask your family and friends if they have a doctor they like.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.