When a family member gets sick overseas

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Illness or injury overseas can be handled with preparation and good information
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While health care costs continue to score high on matters that concern Americans, health care is a matter to be considered well in advance when traveling abroad. When a family member gets sick overseas, it can be a distressing and costly experience. One of the first things to pay careful attention to is what your health insurance can and will cover – if anything – if you get ill in another country. Another matter of concern is knowing what health alerts or outbreaks have been issued in the country to which you are traveling – doing so allows you to seek adequate medical support in advance.

Travel prepared Be prepared for possible illness. Certainly no one wants to plan to be sick in the midst of the fabulous Grecian ruins, or the elaborate architecture of ancient Egypt; yet better prepared than ill with limited resources at hand. The State Department recommends traveling with a letter from your physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs that you are taking and that you can no take. Because coverage by health plans is very limited abroad and in fact, Medicaid and Social Security based programs are not accepted at all in foreign countries – a great idea is purchasing travel related health insurance. Most well trained travel professionals can assist in this purchase.

Be sure your policy covers emergency evacuation for medical reasons. In a critical care situation, a plane flight out might be a matter of life and death. Companies such as Air Ambulance Network can help you locate a plan that covers services such as theirs.

Find local resources When a family member gets sick overseas, one of the first things you need to do is find a list of doctors and/or hospitals in the country you are visiting. The best way to do this is by contacting the embassy or consulate's office in the respective country. Again, plan ahead, embassies and consulates can be found by visiting the US Embassy website. The list is generally found under the Embassy or Consulate's link for Consular Services or American citizen services. Not only will the embassy help in finding medical professionals and care, the consular officer can assist in informing family or friends. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States.

Expensive but worth it Don't be thrown off by the cost factor in getting medical treatment in foreign countries. The State Department says obtaining medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be expensive and medical evacuation by air ambulances to the U.S. can range from $10,000 to more than $50,000, but many travel-related health insurance programs cover emergency air evacuations. The names of some of the companies offering short-term health and emergency assistance policies are listed on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

All in all, visiting Greece, Africa, Australia, Singapore and any other enchanting foreign locale does not have to be hampered by illness. The key to a family member getting sick overseas is to prepare for the possibility much the way we prepare for summer heat related illness or flu season.

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