A trip overseas can be the most memorable experience of your life. Who doesn’t want to spend a day sunning on a beach in Cancun, or exploring a monastery in Thailand or walking the cobbled streets of an ancient village in France? The greatest trip of your life can be marred by an accident or emergency, however, particularly if you don’t know what to do.
What if your husband has a heart attack while you are in Cancun? Or you slip and fall on those slick cobblestones? We know what to do in this country –call 911 if need be and go to the emergency room. Many countries do not have a 911 system. Moreover, the health systems in other countries are completely different from ours. The same medical care isn’t available; in some cases, you may not be able to get care at all without traveling a long distance. You may also be required to pay in cash, up front, before any care will be given.
There are several things you can do to minimize your family’s risk of accident or illness. First, get vaccinated against any diseases prevalent in the country you will be visiting. Take all necessary medications and copies of your prescriptions in your luggage.
Next, find out how the local medical system is set up. Is there a 911 system? If so, what number do you call? It is not always 911. Where are the hospitals? Does the country have rapid care clinics? Does your hotel have a nurse or doctor on call?
The other major issue to consider is that of cost. Most major health insurance companies will not pay medical bills you incur while overseas; neither will any government insurance program. You will have to pay for your treatment in cash. The only way to avoid this is to purchase travel health insurance. Travel health insurance is a form of travel insurance specifically designed to cover any medical emergencies that may occur while you are out of the country. It is extremely affordable; premiums are usually a negligible portion of the cost of your trip. Most of these plans will even cover emergency evacuation back to the United States, if necessary. Several different companies offer these policies, so shop around before you make a purchase.
The odds are that nothing will happen during your trip. But it always pays to be prepared.