Foreign Illnesses – Dealing with Health Issues while Abroad

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Most travelers expect that the worst issues they’ll confront while traveling abroad involve food poisoning or other gastrointestinal distress. Unfortunately, medical emergencies can and do occur when people are vacationing in foreign countries, and few things are as stressful as facing sickness or injury when stranded far from home. Furthermore, the cost of medical care abroad can be ruinously expensive. To protect both your health and your bank account, it is vital to prepare for the worst before leaving home.

Begin by contacting your insurance provider to learn about their policies governing traveling abroad. Many insurance companies will cover medical costs in other countries, though Medicare is a notable exception, and few private plans cover the cost of an emergency flight back home for medical treatment. Should your plan not cover foreign medical bills, it will be vital to find a provider of short-term travel insurance, a special class of health insurance that can generally be obtained for a reasonable price. Senior citizens will do well to work through the AARP for Medicare supplement plans tailored to foreign travel. These plans will often include features like insurance against trip cancelation or baggage delay as well as medical evacuation coverage.

Be sure to travel with your insurance identification card as well as a claim form. Those with pre-existing medical conditions should carry clearly labeled medicines and a letter from their primary physician covering both the details of their condition and the prescribed treatment. Should the worst happen, the nearest US Embassy or Consulate will be able to provide many forms of help, from offering lists of English-speaking doctors to informing family members of your situation. Furthermore, the embassy will be able to aid travelers in transferring funds from the US should any problem with the insurance arise.

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