Unlike Britain， the US does not have a national health care service. The government does help pay for some medical care for people who are on low incomes and for old， but most people buy insurance to help pay for medical care. Some people cannot afford insurance but not poor enough to get government help. The cost of medical insurance and the problems of those who can not afford it are an important political subject.
When people are ill， they usually go first to a general practitioner or internist. Unlike in Britain， however， people sometimes go straight to a specialist， without seeing their general practitioner first. Children are usually taken to a pediatrician （a doctor who is a specialist in the treatment of children）。 As in Britain， if a patient needs to see a specialist doctor， their general doctor will usually give them the name of one.
Doctors don not go to people's homes when they are ill. People always make appointments to see the doctor in the doctor's office. In emergencies（急诊）， people call for an ambulance. Hospital must treat all emergency patients， even if the patient does not have medical insurance. The government would then help pay for some of the cost of the medical care.