International Students and Health Care at WMU

For students at Western Michigan University coming from outside the United States, these are some important things to know about Sindecuse Health Center and health care in the U.S.

Health care costs may be much higher in the U.S.

Health care can be expensive in the U.S., and the insurance you are required to purchase only pays for part of the cost of care. Every insurance plan asks the patient to pay for some part of the cost of health care. Most visits to the health center, except for flu shots, will require a payment by the patient. The way cost is calculated can also be confusing or unfamiliar to newcomers to the U.S. health care system.

Choose your insurance carefully

Buying insurance does not mean that you won't have to pay anything out-of-pocket for health care visits to a medical provider.  You may choose to save money by purchasing lower-cost health insurance, but you may pay more when you seek care as a result. Lower-cost insurance equals less insurance coverage. Even common reasons people seek care—like immunizations or physical exams—are not covered by PSI Silver or PSI Bronze insurance.

Better insurance plans like PSI Gold cost more but still require patients to pay some part of the cost of care. But PSI Gold covers more typical health care visits like preventive care, HPV immunizations and many laboratory tests. No matter what insurance plan you choose, there are likely to be costs associated with every visit to the health center:

Copay: A fixed amount you may pay at each visit.

Coinsurance:  The percentage of the total visit cost you are responsible for.

We serve every student at WMU

Whether you have insurance or not, we are happy to serve you. If your insurance does not cover a condition because it is considered pre-existing, we can still serve you. You can pay out-of-pocket with your own funds. If your University account is in good standing, you may assign the charges to your account.

How to get the care you need at WMU’s health center

Know your insurance coverage

It’s important to understand the insurance plan you purchased. Read the plan documents carefully and learn what it covers and what it does not cover. It may not be anything like the health care plan you had in your home country. It may use language you do not understand. That’s OK—it can be complicated!

Ask questions

Ask health center staff how your insurance coverage works if you are unsure. We have a dedicated insurance professional available to answer your questions at (269) 387-4219. The staff who check patients in at an appointment can also answer general questions. Please do not send questions regarding personal illness or financial details through the web site contact form. Call first.

Upload your Insurance card to the patient portal

Let the health center know what insurance plan you have. You can send it to us through the patient portal. We’ll keep a copy of it for when you visit. Here is how you upload your insurance document with us:

  • Take a photo of your insurance card or document both front & back.
  • Login to the patient portal and navigate to “Insurance Card”.
  • Upload your card images.

Make an appointment

We see WMU students and employees by appointment. If you log in to the patient portal, select “Appointments” then answer some questions. You’ll be offered the next available appointment times. It’s best to look for appointments when you first think you’ll need one. Waiting until your illness gets worse may mean a longer wait for an appointment. Walking into the health center does not offer any advantage over using the patient portal.

At your appointment

Arrive 15 minutes before your appointment and bring your insurance card and BroncoID. Ask the check-in staff to explain to you how your visit will be paid for by insurance if you are insure. We’ll collect the portion of the cost you are responsible for. The rest will be billed to your insurance company.

WMU's Tuberculosis Program

Students who were born in or spent time in countries at high risk for transmission of tuberculosis are required to participate in the University's TB program. The program is designed to protect the student, and the wider campus community from the risk of transmission of Tb, or progression of disease. 

Still have questions?

Call us at (269) 387-3287 and follow the prompts to make an appointment with a provider. The patient access services staff will be happy to help you understand the health center. We look forward to meeting you.