None of us want to think about getting sick while traveling abroad, but we really should plan for the worst in advance. Following these few simple steps can save you hassle, time, and money. So, before you go…
Learn about your destination. The United States State Department's website (state.gov/travel/) has info regarding what type of medical services are available in all countries. The Centers of Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) also has destination-specific health information (cdc.gov).
Check your insurance coverage. Call your health insurance provider to see what they might cover. Most cover nothing; however, if you are lucky, and travel to a foreign country is covered, be aware you will most likely need to pay up front and they will reimburse you. If they don't have coverage or you are unhappy with what they do cover, consider purchasing travel insurance.
Write down your health care contact information and keep it with you at all times. This includes: Your primary care doctor's office, home and/or cell phone numbers in case you need a consultation, after hours contact name and number in the event of an emergency that happens outside of your primary doctor's regular office hours, your HMO or insurance company's contact information in case you need to get approval for treatment, travel insurance company contact information, if applicable, and embassy contact info for all countries in which you will be traveling.
You should keep this information in your carry-on luggage, wallet, purse or money belt so that if you are incapacitated, it is readily available to whoever may come to your assistance.
If you become sick or injured, ask for complete contact information (including a fax number) of the hospital or clinic at which you are being treated before you call your doctor or insurance provider. This will assist your doctor in getting pertinent documentation to the caregivers where you are.
More information will be in next month's column, including dealing with medications.