International Traveling and Your Health

This is the time of year when many people travel, some internationally. If you plan to leave the country, you may want to consider the following when it comes to your health:

- You may not have health insurance coverage for illnesses or injuries that are treated abroad, even if you have US based medical coverage.

- Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs incurred abroad.

- Senior organizations can assist with obtaining foreign medical coverage for Medicare supplement plans.

- US consulate personnel will help you locate health care providers and facilities and even contact family members, if necessary.

- You can purchase travel insurance that covers health care needs and pays for medical evacuation if you need to be transported back to the US for treatment.

Obtaining medical treatment in another country can be expensive and a medical evacuation can cost over $50,000. Plus, any medical bill and claim resolution which may be needed to decipher charges may be difficult to do while abroad.

Other Considerations

If you are older or have a disability and will be traveling out of the US, there are other things to consider:

- The conditions of the local area. For example, is there any local topography (like high altitude) or climate conditions (hot and sticky) that may have an effect on you?

- Your own preparations. Avoid a lot of physical activity when you are getting ready for your trip. Realize that sudden changes in diet, climate and physical activity can have serious health consequences for an unseasoned traveler.

- Find out what you can about the standards of accessibility for travelers with disabilities in the country where you are going. Also, the Department of Transportation has published two informative pamphlets: New Horizons for the Air Traveler with a Disability and Plane Talk: Facts for Passengers with Disabilities, that will help you.

For any situation, speak with your physician about your general physical condition and the activities you are planning to do while on your trip. This discussion should include decisions on any medications you are taking and immunizations that may be required.

In addition, if you have medical expense coverage and you are travelling out of the US, contact your insurance plan representative to see if you are covered. If not, decide whether you need to purchase a travel insurance and/or a medical evaluation policy.