What to Know About Visiting the Doctor When Traveling

If you are planning to travel within the United States or abroad, it is important to consider your options when it comes to receiving health care. While no one intends to become ill or injured, emergencies do happen, and it is better to be prepared for the unexpected.

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is ensure you have proper identification and insurance documents on your person. You may not always be conscious in the event of a serious illness or accident, and these documents can help paramedics and doctors that are charged with your care.

Review and familiarize yourself with your current health insurance policies. While some policies do provide coverage throughout the United States, others may have limited coverage while you are traveling. Not every insurance provider will offer emergency coverage if you are abroad either.

If you do not have adequate health insurance coverage when traveling, it is important to learn more about and consider obtaining travel insurance. While travel insurance does provide a wide list of coverage options, one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of travel insurance is the emergency health insurance benefits. These benefits could save you a lot in the long run, despite the cost of travel insurance.

Always Carry Identification and Insurance Documents

Whenever traveling within the United States or abroad, it is crucial that you always carry identification and insurance documents on your person. It is important that your insurance cards and identifying documents are current and valid. This can help the doctors and paramedics charged with your care get you the help that you need and charge the appropriate insurance agency for applicable fees.

If you have any sort of medical condition or allergy that should be known to doctors and paramedics, it is important that you also wear your medical bracelet or have some sort of indication within your identification. This is especially true if you have a severe medical allergy, such as an allergy to penicillin, or a medical condition that could be made worse by routine medical care. You may not be conscious when a medical emergency occurs, so it is imperative that paramedics are able to determine who you are and if there are any preexisting conditions that they should know about.

Does your health insurance provide coverage throughout the U.S?

Most health insurance policies include networks that you must stay within in order for coverage to be available to you. While this is not always the case, it is worth checking with your insurance agency about the in-network doctors and hospitals that are available around your travel destination. This can help you avoid big expenses later, should the unexpected occur.

It is also worth asking whether or not emergencies will be covered in out of network hospitals. While many insurance agencies do offer emergency room services, even if you are out of network, not all insurers do.

Related Article: How to Find a Health Care Provider

Learning if Health Insurance Coverage is Available Abroad

To learn whether or not your current health insurance provider will provide coverage in the event of an emergency while you are traveling abroad, it is important that you contact your insurance provider.

Inquire about your current policy in order to learn whether or not coverage may be available to you. If coverage is available, be sure to learn more about your policy and what type of coverage will be available to you while you are traveling. Most insurance providers will have a list of conditions that are considered an emergency in which coverage would be available.

Understanding the Benefits of Travel Insurance

There are a variety of benefits to travel insurance. Unfortunately, a common benefit that is overlooked is the emergency healthcare coverage that most travel insurance policies has to offer. This coverage can be invaluable, especially if your domestic United States health insurance plan will not provide you coverage while you travel.

When considering a travel insurance plan, it is important to be on the lookout for key benefits revolving around health insurance, such as:

  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • Emergency medical coverage

Trip cancellation policies will offer coverage options for prepaid expenses in the event of a trip cancellation due to sickness, injury and, in some cases, natural disasters and a death of a family member. Make sure that you read the policy thoroughly before purchasing it as many plans will have very specific reasons that a trip can be canceled and the types of expenses that the insurance will provide coverage for.

Trip interruption is similar to trip cancellation. The coverage is activated if a qualifying event cuts your trip short, such as an unforeseen natural disaster, illness or injury.

Finally, emergency medical coverage can provide you with coverage should you need to visit a doctor or an emergency room. This is an invaluable part of travel insurance, especially if your normal health insurance plan does not provide you with coverage. Some plans will limit the amount of times that you can visit a doctor during your trip or the doctors and hospitals where coverage is provided.

Travel insurance is often affordable. The cost will generally be determined by the insurer, the coverage options that you select for your policy and the length of time that travel insurance will be needed.

How to Find a Doctor When Traveling Abroad

If you are traveling abroad, it is important to know where you can find medical aid should you need it. To find a list of health resources in the area that you are traveling, contact the local United States embassy or consulate. This can help you to find a list of English-speaking doctors in the area. Alternatively, you can also visit the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers website. This website provides a large list of doctors in various countries.

If your health insurance provider does offer emergency medical services while you are traveling abroad, you may also be able to contact your provider for a list of locations.  

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