Refugee Health

Advice for Refugees and Asylees

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. If you have health problems that are not an emergency, do not call 911. Make an appointment with your doctor or ask your resettlement caseworker for advice.

Healthcare in the United States

There are many different types of doctors, and it is important to know who to talk to in different situations.

  • Your Primary Care Provider
    Your primary care provider (PCP) is you or your family's main doctor, who you will develop a long and trusting relationship with. They will be your first point of contact for questions about health or medical problems that are not emergencies. Your insurance will also cover an annual visit to your PCP, so make sure you go in for a checkup every year.
  • Visiting a Specialist
    Your primary care doctor may decide that you need to see a specialist for a particular problem that is beyond their expertise. In order to see a specialist, you will need your primary care doctor to make a referral for the visit will be covered by your insurance. It is also a good idea to talk to your insurance plan to find out what they will and will not pay for before visiting a specialist.
  • The Emergency Room
    You should only visit the emergency room if you are experiencing a serious medical emergency. All other health concerns should be directed to your primary care provider.
  • Urgent Care and Walk-in Clinics
    If you have a medical problem that is not a serious medical emergency, but you do not want to wait for an appointment with your PCP, you can use an Urgent Care or Walk-in Clinic that does not require appointments. Be aware that your insurance may not cover these kinds of visits, so check with your insurance plan.
  • Community Health Centers
    Another type of medical provider is a Community Health Center, which offers a large variety of services, including medical services, mental health counseling and case management at reduced cost. This is your best option if you are still waiting on your asylum hearing do not have insurance.

Be aware that when you call to make an appointment with a doctor, you may have to wait weeks or months before they have time to see you. For this reason, it is important to plan ahead when making healthcare decisions. Also make sure that when you visit a new provider, you bring a list of all medications you are taking, and the name of your primary care provider if possible.