The US Healthcare System
As you may be aware, the US healthcare system is very expensive and difficult to navigate. This video teaches international students how to prepare for their arrival in the US, how the US healthcare
system works and how students should seek medical care appropriately if they become sick or injured.
Measles Immunity and TB Testing
It is now required that all students to provide evidence of measles immunity before being allowed to register for classes. Please read the requirements and information about this on the Student Health Center website. You will need to complete the measles immunity form and send all documentation directly to:
WWU Student Health Center
Campus Services Building
Bellingham, WA, 98225-9112
You may also FAX copies of your documentation to +1 (360) 650-3883.
All new students must also have a tuberculosis (TB) screening done at the Student Health Center within the first week of classes at Western. There will be more information about this provided at the International Student Orientation.
Part of your mandatory fees at Western will pay for use of the Student Health Center on Western’s campus, but emergency health care and off-campus doctor or hospital visits are not covered with this fee. Therefore, beginning Fall 2013, all international students who study at Western Washington University will be required to enroll in the WWU LewerMark insurance plan for international students. All international students will be automatically enrolled in the student insurance each quarter of attendance. The cost of medical insurance is $353 per quarter and will be billed on the student’s account. Medical insurance and immunizations charges will be billed on the student account. If students would like to be reimbursed for these immunizations, they can get a receipt from the Student Health Center and submit it to LewerMark Student Insurance.
All payments for tuition, housing, medical insurance and other fees are due on the first 15th of the month of each quarter (ie, fall quarter = October 15). Payments made after this day will accrue late charges. Payments can be made on-campus in the Student Business Office in Old Main 110 upon arrival.
We understand that some students may have purchased alternative medical insurance or have insurance from their home countries, so in some cases students may be able to waive out of the WWU LewerMark Insurance plan. In order to be considered exempt from enrolling in the WWU LewerMark insurance policy, students must show proof of adequate insurance coverage with an English language copy of the insurance policy and meet one of the following criteria:
1. Be sponsored by a government agency or embassy;
2. Be a U.S. citizen;
3. Be covered by a spouse or family member who works in the U.S. and has medical insurance.
Students have until the first 15th of the month of each quarter to submit proof that they meet one of the exceptions listed above to be considered exempt from the WWU LewerMark insurance plan.
If you do not meet one of the requirements listed above and/or arrive to WWU without proof of medical insurance, WWU requires that you purchase medical insurance provided by the LewerMark Student Insurance. Please see the LewerMark website for more information about what the insurance covers.
Students are automatically enrolled the in LewerMark insurance only for quarters they are enrolled at WWU. During vacation quarters -- ie, summer quarter -- when students are not enrolled in classes, they will not be automatically enrolled in the LewerMark insurance. Students wishing to be enrolled in the LewerMark insurance during a vacation quarter will need to contact ISSS before the start of that quarter.
While going directly to the hospital may be the practice in some places, hospital visits in the US can be very costly and may require a long wait. Only go to the Emergency Room (ER) in the case of a very serious emergency, as outlined in this chart. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911 for an ambulance.
The Student Health Center provides a broad range of affordable health care – including women’s health, STI testing, physical therapy, and mental health services. The Student Health Center is available to all students enrolled for six or more credits and is located in the Campus Services Building.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 8:30am – 4pm
Thursday: 9:30am – 4pm
ISSS has compiled a list of healthcare providers that offer weekend and afterhours services, including walk-in appointments (no need to book ahead), in the event that you have an urgent medical need at a time when the Student Health Center is not open.
Dental care in the United States is very expensive, so it might be a good idea to see a dentist in your home country before you leave or when you go home to visit. If you do need dental care while you are in the US, see this list of dentists in Bellingham.
Dental insurance is not included in the WWU LewerMark plan for international students, but LewerMark does offer dental insurance through the SmartSmile plan should you wish to purchase your own dental insurance. If you choose SmartSmile, you will need to use a dentist in their network.
Prevention & Wellness Services
Prevention & Wellness Services supports you in your personal efforts to improve and maintain your health and the health of your community so that you may achieve your academic, career, and personal goals. Services provided include Alcohol and Drug Consultation and Assessment Services (ADCAS), Consultation and Sexual Assault Support (CASAS), Sexual Health Information Sessions, and Wellness Outreach Center (WOC). Peer Health Educators work to increase health literacy on campus by working to educate students in alcohol and drug risk reduction, violence prevention, sexual health education, body empowerment, and mental wellness.
Western Washington University’s Counseling Center staff is available to assist you with the life problems and emotional concerns that may arise while you are a student here at Western. In the United States, university students may meet with a counselor to talk about a wide range of concerns. For example, a professional counselor can provide support with adjusting to university life in another country, help find ways to cope with feelings of homesickness, anxiety or depression, discuss ways to improve relationships, or explore changes you want to make to be more consistent with your goals.
The Counseling Center offers group counseling, short-term individual or couples’ counseling, and psycho-educational workshops and classes to help students address their concerns and gain the skills to be successful at WWU. If students need longer-term support or more specialized counseling, the Counseling Center can help find a referral in the Bellingham community.
To make an appointment to talk to a counselor, call the main number at 360-650-3164 or stop by the office in 540 Old Main weekdays between 8:30am and 5:00pm. You will be asked if you need an urgent appointment or a regular appointment. Urgent appointments are appropriate when you feel you are in crisis; if there is an urgent personal or family situation, if you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others, or are feeling extreme emotional distress. If you experience a crisis when the office is closed, call 360-650-3164 and press “1” to talk to an after-hours counselor.
Further information about the Counseling Center, crisis services, and self-help materials can be found on the Counseling Center website.