For the world traveler there are some concerns when it comes to your health. Although many countries have fully capable health care, some are less updated than others. Many foreign countries also host different diseases than what you would find in the U.S. And even the “safest” places to visit don’t guarantee you won’t get hurt or fall ill while traveling. Making sure you’re prepared for a trip abroad includes more than just making reservations and packing, it’s important to plan for your health needs as well.
Insurance For Travelers
Having travel insurance and medical insurance abroad is not the same thing. Travel insurance refers to the trip itself and the services you pay for (flight, hotel room, etc.). Travel health insurance is referring to your well-being while on the trip (the same as it would here in the states). If your insurance does not provide coverage abroad, you should consider additional, temporary, health insurance while you’re traveling in another country.
Travel medical insurance can cover you if an emergency happens while you are staying abroad. No one plans to need it, but if you are not covered, you may be paying out of pocket for care if you become ill. Ask your current provider about whether your policy covers you and your family while traveling abroad. When considering your options, it is best to assess all of your potential needs. Do you have any pre-existing conditions? Where are you going? How long will you be there? What kinds of activities will you participate in? These are the questions to ask before making a decision.
If you’re lucky enough to be covered, make sure your insurance covers a wide array of services. If you’re not, make sure that you look for comprehensive coverage when shopping around. Depending on where you go (and what you plan to do) you may need more than just money for a doctor’s visit. Some travel health policies include a wide range of emergency services, which can cover you even if you require evacuation by helicopter… so if you’re climbing a mountain, don’t skimp out!
When shopping for travel medical insurance, pay attention not only to the coverage, but also to the accountability. Look for medical policies that guarantee their payments abroad, pay directly to foreign hospitals and doctors, and have a 24-hour customer support center. The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of reputable companies that offer medical insurance for travelers, so check out their website if you don’t know where to start.
Before you get on that plane (or boat), check the vaccination requirements and health alerts of the country you’re traveling to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides users with details about current health alerts in each country. The site is updated frequently, offering different alert levels and descriptions of the diseases that may be harmful to a foreigner.
MyVaccs, another useful source, has an interactive map containing the required vaccinations for each country. Select where you’re going from the map, and it will list the diseases visitors to that region are prone to and which vaccines are required for travel. If you’re a frequent traveler, you can register for an account with them to help keep track of your vaccination records.
Enjoy Your Trip
Obviously there is a lot to consider when traveling, but if you plan on having the time of your life, you have to protect yourself. Don’t let unexpected medical expenses ruin your trip; make sure you’re covered before you leave. And be sure to research the country you are visiting and take the essential steps toward preventing local illnesses. If you know you’re covered, you can travel abroad with peace of mind. Now get out there and see the world!