- Confirm you have a current health insurance card with you. Many insurers offer mobile apps now so you can pull up your card whenever you need it. Contact your insurance company or HR department to order one if necessary.
- Make sure you understand your medical insurance coverage. Do you have coverage outside of a preferred provider network? How are emergency room visits treated?
- Download your medical plan's provider locator app on your smartphone. If you don't have access to a smartphone, print out a list of participating providers near your travel destination from your carrier's internet site.
- Pack enough prescription medication to last your entire trip and be sure to keep it in your carry on if you're flying. Contact your insurer a couple of weeks before your trip to arrange coverage for additional amounts of any prescription drug that you'll need. This is sometimes called a "vacation override request." Pack a list of your prescription medications in case of a medical emergency or to make replacing them a little easier if they get lost.
- If you take over-the-counter drugs regularly, include those as well. Consider packing something to treat traveler's diarrhea like Imodium. Depending on your destination and the type of activities you have planned, you may want to pack a first-aid kit and insect repellent. (Those blister band-aids can save the day if you plan to do a lot of walking.) And, of course, don't forget the sunscreen.
- If you have a medical condition that could cause problems, ask your doctor to provide a letter that contains information about your illness and the treatments you are receiving.
- If you experience a non-life threatening medical problem, consider calling your insurance company's nurseline for advice. Convenience care clinics and urgent care centers are often time and cost saving alternatives to an emergency room visit.
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- Find out if your health insurance plan covers treatment outside of the United States. You will probably have to pay for services in advance and submit for reimbursement if they do. Find out if you have coverage for medical evacuation. International medical insurance coverage is available if you do not think your normal coverage is adequate. It's reasonably priced and can be purchased by the day. I recently purchased a policy from International Medical Group for my son who will be traveling through Europe this summer.
- Consider seeing a Doctor who specializes in travel medicine before you leave home. Travel doctors keep current on the health issues and immunizations needed in countries worldwide. Travel doctors will tailor their recommendations to your individual health needs and may prescribe medications and/or vaccines for your trip.
If you will be traveling alone:
- Consider purchasing a Road ID. Road IDs are frequently worn by triathletes and cyclists. They offer a few different styles and give you space to include emergency contact information and highlight medical conditions.
See this post for some tips to help you stay healthy when you travel -- Building Your Immunity Arsenal for Travel.