Before you even leave, make sure you check insurance coverage with your carrier and, particularly, whether or not you are covered while traveling abroad. Also, keep in mind that some insurance plans do not cover you if you’re more than 100 miles from home. If your coverage does not apply to where you might be traveling, it's probably a good idea to buy travel insurance that includes medical benefits. Know the protocol to use the benefits in advance.
Many insurance company's allow consumers to compare travel-insurance rates. Travel insurance costs will vary by age, coverage limit, length and price of your trip.
So now you’re aware of your coverage and it’s time to get ready. First and most importantly, make sure you have all your insurance documents and information with you, including your prescription drug card. Complete the information page on the inside of your passport in case of emergency or if you aren’t travel abroad or don‘t have a passport, write out your information and emergency contacts and keep it with your documentation along with a concise list of your medications . Remember, those of you who take medications should pack enough to last the entire trip and then extra in case of travel delays.
For those that have a pre-existing medical condition, carry a letter from your primary care physician describing the condition and any prescription medications you are currently taking, including generic names for these drugs. Be sure to leave any medications you are taking with you outside of the United States in their original containers, clearly labeled. Some medications are considered to be illegal narcotics in foreign countries. You may want to check with the foreign embassy of the country you are visiting to be sure.
For more information and in severe cases, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate for a list of local physicians and medical facilities. If your illness is serious, consular officers can help you find medical assistance, and, if you desire, inform your family and/or friends. They can also assist in the transfer of funds from family or friends in the United States. Payment of hospital and other medical bills are the travelers' responsibility.
To be prepared for those minor incidents, bring the basics when you pack. I always bring a supply of medicine with me for headaches, coughs, colds, stomach disorders, along with band-aids, ointments and other first aid needs.
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t take a day to relax and hopefully heal. Missing one day may be a lot better than missing out on your whole vacation. If you’re still not feeling well, there are several options for you to help aid in your recovery.
Your hotel front desk or concierge can help you in seeking a doctor or pharmacy nearby and possibly help you in transportation. Sometimes, if you're not sick enough to need a doctor, a pharmacist can suggest over-the-count medicines that can be helpful.
You may be able to find Mobile Physicians who actually visit you at your location. Just note that you may have to pay upfront for many of these “in-home” services and your insurance company may not reimburse you for all the expenses. However, if you have travel insurance, some of these expenses may be covered. A trip to an urgent care center or even an emergency room are also options.
Be sure to keep all the paperwork you receive so you are able to submit itemized bills for reimbursement to your health insurance provider.
Hopefully you will never need to use this information and your travels are safe and healthy, but at least you are prepared and have your resources ready!