Sometimes when your health is failing, you may decide to throw caution to the winds and go on that trip you’ve been dreaming of all your life. If you and your loved one are traveling abroad, there are steps you should take to protect your health and save yourself elephant-size medical bills.
The first thing you want to do is check whether your insurance will cover you while you’re out of the country. Medicare and supplemental Medicare will not. But some private health insurance companies will. It’s also important to know whether your insurance covers evacuation back to the United States in the event of a medical emergency. If you need insurance that will cover you abroad, talk to your travel agent. He or she will know about travel insurance plans.
According to United Healthcare, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor before traveling abroad. Your doctor can insure that you are ready to travel. He or she can also check on any chronic conditions, make sure you have enough medication and write medical prescriptions or letters if you require medical equipment such as oxygen or a pain pump. Pain pumps can sometimes be a problem because the medicine that goes into them is illegal in some countries. Again, check with your travel agent or with the State Department.
When it comes to oxygen, you usually have the option of bringing your own. You may also ask the travel agent to make all the arrangements or rent equipment where you are staying. Going through the travel agent costs the most money, but it is also the most efficient way.
When you travel abroad, always keep a copy of your advance directive and your durable power of attorney for healthcare. The living will tells the doctor about the care you wish to receive at the end of life. Your durable power of attorney for healthcare is a form that names the person who will make decisions for you if you are unconscious, confused or otherwise unable to speak for yourself.
If you take a controlled substance such as a narcotic, carry the pills in the original containers. It’s also a good idea to bring along written prescriptions and a short note from your doctor explaining why you take the medicine.
Becoming ill while traveling abroad can be a frightening experience. This is especially true if you have a terminal illness and know there is a chance that you may die while out of the country. If you need help finding a doctor, contacting your family in the United States, or returning to the United States, contact the American Citizen Services in the consulate or embassy where you are traveling.
Taking a fun trip is a good way to deal with a chronic or terminal illness. Remember, though, do everything you can to protect your health while you’re out of the country. You may have days when you feel run down; be sure to have a backup plan if you start to feel unwell. Sometimes resting for a few days is as good a cure as medicine.