Especially for International Students

Summer 2020: Services for students abroad

The following services are currently available to international students studying outside the United States. Please check back for information about Fall 2020 services.

Telehealth consultation 

Offered by phone or online secure messaging; no charge for students enrolled in SHP

Consultation, care management, and referrals by phone and online secure messaging are available to students currently residing outside of the U.S. (Please note that U.S. licensure regulations prohibit us from providing diagnosis and treatment of students located outside of the country.) Visit our Telehealth Services page for more detail.

Call us (607-255-5155) to learn about options for care and to schedule an appointment. You may also log in to myCornellHealth to send us a message requesting an appointment. 

Additional mental health support 

Offered by Zoom; no charge for students enrolled in SHP

Students outside the U.S. can also access non-clinical mental health support through the following programs:

  • Let’s Talk – Informal drop-in consultations with a CAPS counselor, available by Zoom on Monday and Thursday afternoons
  • CAPS-Led Workshops – Skills-based workshops offered by Zoom, available on a variety of topics

24/7 phone consultation

Students everywhere can consult with a medical or mental health provider any time, day or night, by calling us at 607-255-5155.

Information for new international students

We know that adjusting to a new community and culture, and seeking care within a different health care system, can be challenging at first.

Start by reviewing our Especially for New Students page for information that applies to all new students – domestic and international.

New international student video

How do I see a doctor at Cornell? What medical and mental health services are available at Cornell Health? How much does it cost? How does my Cornell health insurance work? Get these and other questions answered by current international students:

[Video transcript]

Health care in the U.S.

In the United States – and in Ithaca – you will find five basic levels of care. Refer to the information below for an overview of how health care works in the United States, and to learn which level of care is most appropriate for which type of health concern.

  1. Primary care:

  • For most illnesses, injuries, and preventive health care, people usually go first to their primary care provider – similar to your family doctor or health practitioner at home.

  • Each Cornell student is assigned a Primary Care Provider (PCP) who will coordinate your health care throughout your time at Cornell. Whenever you need an appointment with a medical clinician, we recommend scheduling with your PCP, who can help connect you with other specialty services as needed. [see all Services]

  2. Specialized care:

  • Cornell Health provides some “specialty” medical services, including physical therapy, nutrition, sexual health care, travel services, laboratory and x-ray, allergy shots, and a full-service pharmacy.

  • If you need specialized care beyond the scope of what we offer – such as dental or vision care, dermatology, orthopedic care, obstetrics, or other services – we can refer you to a provider in the Ithaca area.

  3. After-hours urgent care

  • When urgent health concerns arise when we’re closed, you can call us 24/7 (607-255-5155) for consultation, advice – and if needed – referral for care in the community. Visit our Emergencies & After-Hours Care page for more details.

  4. Emergency care:

  • For life-threatening health problems – such as traumatic injuries, breathing problems, high fever, alcohol poisoning, mental health crises, etc. – you can go directly to the Emergency Department of Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca’s hospital. Call 911 if you need immediate assistance, and a dispatcher will connect you with the police and/or an ambulance.

  • NOTE: An ambulance should only be used when emergency medical procedures may be required in route to the hospital. The fee charged for an ambulance may be several hundred dollars, and will be covered by health insurance only for a serious health problem. Visit Emergencies & After-Hours Care for information about other transportation options.

  5. Hospitalization

  • Cayuga Medical Center offers a variety of in-patient and out-patient services including surgery, behavioral and mental health services, child birth options and care for mothers and new babies, pediatric care for sick children, and a medical rehabilitation unit for people recovering from major trauma, head injury, and stroke.

  • Outpatient services are offered in two locations (the Medical Center and the Urgent Care Center) and include outpatient or same-day surgery, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation services, and diagnostic radiological testing, from routine x-rays to MRI.

Learn more about health care costs and health insurance below.

Counseling & support

In the U.S., emotional well-being is considered an important part of overall health care. That’s why our staff members collaborate to provide integrated medical and mental health care that supports both the body and the mind.

For some international students, speaking with a professional counselor may be a new experience – especially for those from cultures in which problems are usually worked out with the help of family members, friends, or religious/spiritual leaders. But at Cornell, about 20% of students use our counseling services each year – for a variety of problems, big and small. Seeking counseling doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you, or that you’re "crazy." It just means that you could use some help feeling better and making the most of your time at Cornell.

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at Cornell Health offers a safe, non-judgmental forum to talk with someone privately about any concern, including culture shock, home-sickness, sadness, and academic stress. Some students who are experiencing ongoing depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns – or neurological conditions such as ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) – may also benefit from medications prescribed through our psychiatry services.

Learn more:

Health care costs & insurance  

Unlike countries with nationalized health care, fees are charged for all health services received in the U.S. The cost of health care tends to rise with the level of care provided – with “Primary Care” being the least expensive, and “Emergency Care” and “Hospitalization” being the most expensive (refer to chart above).

Having quality health insurance is essential to help cover these costs. As an international student, you are required to be enrolled in Cornell's Student Health Plan (SHP), enabling you to access nearly all primary, specialty, and counseling services at Cornell Health for a $10 visit copay (see our Cost for Service page for details). The plan also provides you with excellent coverage anywhere in the United States or abroad.

SHP does not cover most dental or vision care services. Such care can be very costly in the U.S., so you may want to consider enrolling in Cornell’s optional dental and/or vision plan if you anticipate needing these services.

Language translation assistance

Students who find it easier to talk about personal health concerns in their native language can use our telephone-based language translation service, which offers more than 200 languages. If you are interested in using the service, please call to schedule your appointment (607-255-5155) and request the service when you speak with one of our scheduling attendants.


We want you to feel comfortable contacting us for any reason, and hope you will speak openly with your health care provider(s) about any questions or concerns you may have. Our staff members are experienced serving students from all over the world, and are responsive to the diversity of cultures, beliefs, practices, and values represented by our international community.

If you have a concern you wish to discuss and don’t know where to start, please contact one of our Patient Advocates.