What Happens if I have a Medical Problem Overseas?

Getting sick or injured is never fun, but if a medical problem happens while you are in your home country, it is far easier to deal with than it would be if you were abroad. A medical issue overseas is not only inconvenient; it can also be downright scary.

Of course, nobody plans to get sick or suffer an injury while they are traveling, and hopefully a medical issue while abroad is an experience that you will never have; however, health related emergencies can arise at any time, and they can happen whether you are prepared for them or not.

In order to reduce the inconvenience and the stress that a medical problem abroad can cause, it’s important that you are fully prepared for the unexpected to occur. In the event that the unexpected does happen, you will be glad that you are prepared.

As an experienced traveler myself, I have dealt with medical issues while overseas, and I know full well what a hassle such a situation can be. That’s why I want to share my insight on how to handle a medical problem while you are abroad so that when and if an emergency arises, you will know how to handle it.

Speak to Your Health Insurance Provider

It’s important to know whether or not your health insurance provider will cover any medical expenses that you may incur while you are overseas. Some providers do offer coverage while traveling abroad; however, that coverage will likely be limited. For example, most providers won’t cover the cost of a medical evacuation.

Make sure you speak to your health insurance carrier before you travel so you can find out what it covers, if anything at all. If you are covered while overseas, make sure that you have your health insurance card and a claim form with you while you are traveling.

Invest in Travel Insurance

Medical expenses abroad can lead to financial turmoil. If your health insurance provider doesn’t offer coverage while you are overseas, or if it only offers limited coverage, you should seriously consider investing in a travel insurance policy. While you will have to pay a fee for this insurance, trust me, that fee will be far less than the cost of any medical expenses that you may incur while you are traveling abroad.

Most travel insurance policies, even the most basic, will reimburse you for the cost of medical related issues. Generally, medical expenses are covered up to a specific amount, and a medical evacuation (you have to be evacuated from the area you are traveling to because of an emergency medical situation arose,) will reimburse you a specific amount of money. If you have a pre-existing condition, however, you may need to buy extra coverage.

How much can you expect to pay for travel medical insurance? That depends on the package that you purchase, the cost of your trip, where you are traveling to and other factors, such as your age. A comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers medical costs, as well as trip cancellation and interruption and travel delay, for example, will usually cost between 4 to 8 percent of the total cost of your trip.

Make sure that you purchase your travel insurance policy from a reputable third-party agency. In the event that a medical emergency does arise, you want to make sure that you can rely on the coverage that your agency provides.

Make Sure You are Prepared

Prepare yourself for a medical emergency before you travel. Hopefully you won’t ever experience a medical issue while you are overseas, but if you do, you’ll be glad that you are prepared for it.

Some important medical emergency tips to keep in mind include:

  • Have an emergency contact listed on the inside of your passport. Choose a trusted individual and include his or her name and phone number. Should an issue arise, health professionals will be able to contact the person to make them aware of your situation.
  • If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure you get a letter from your physician that describes, in detail, the condition and any medications that you may be taking. Carry the letter with you in a safe, but easily accessible place, while you are traveling.
  • Do some research to find out about any diseases or other health issues that are common to the country you will be traveling to. Also, find out what vaccines are required or recommended and make sure that you get those vaccinations at least 6 weeks prior to your departure.

If you do get sick or suffer an injury while you are overseas, make sure you seek medical care. If it is a true emergency, you may need to visit the ER of an international ER. If you don’t need emergency treatment, contact the US embassy; they will provide you with a list of medical facilities and doctors who can treat you.

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