It’s a gamble any time you leave home – going across town or the planet. If you have only a couple of weeks a year of vacation one of the worst things that can happen is getting sick and missing the trip. That’s a great argument for travel insurance, where your travel costs are covered in the event that you can’t go.
If you are overseas and go to great lengths, and cost, to have travel health insurance – is it worth it?
You know your health condition better than anyone, so start there with a few questions (and this is by no means exhaustive):
- Do I have health conditions that may be compromised during travel to other countries?
- Will the places I visit have medical professionals available if I need them?
- What would I do to replace or refill prescriptions when out of the country?
- What can I carry with me to make sure I stay healthy?
For example, if you need oxygen on a daily basis, make sure your airline is aware and make sure there are tanks on board for your use. It takes a bit of doing but is more common than you may realize. Also, make sure that where you are going has oxygen available and you can refill tanks easily. Advanced planning is key for most health conditions.
I just finished reading the Paris travel memoir, Meet Me Under The Eiffel Tower After venturing through author, Natasha Donohue’s, romantic adventures, read of the issues that came up with her epileptic, adult son. There were some problems with having one airline respond or even let him travel (American Airlines) but the eventual flight on a different carrier went smoothly. In Paris, there were a few minor seizures but both Natasha and her son were prepared for signals and were careful with medication.
The worst episode ended up with them being driven by very expensive ambulance to a woefully understaffed hospital when all that was really necessary was to get back to her apartment, to the medication waiting there and to rest. The rest of their trip went relatively well and memories were created that they’ll happily share forever.
Say you are in good health and traveling to Europe. Do you really need to get extended health insurance coverage?
Many travel experts and expert travelers that I’ve met say probably not. Why? Because socialized medicine, local clinics and hospitals offer services below the costs you would incur and are, in most industrial countries, much less expensive than having insurance. The question to ask is, if you needed to be airlifted or flown home suddenly, could you and your family cover the costs?
No one wants to forfeit their health and a dream vacation due to sickness or injury, so search your heart, study about the places you are visiting. See what the Center for Disease Control recommends and then choose the coverage you might need. Base your decision on knowledge instead of fear, such as is ramped up in a recent article by Fox news.
Make sure that you’ll get what you need when purchasing travel health insurance.
Elaine J. Masters
Travel writer, co-host of San Diego Travel Massive.
Travel ease books and audio for flyers and drivers at: www.DrivetimeYoga.com
Thanks for the kudos on the article. If I get your query right – what challenges have I come up with in the last few days? Well, my most recent trip was deep into Mexico’s Baja, Sea of Cortez side. Many on my trip were sharing a sore throat and I dodged it by using Wellness Formula – a strong, herbal immune booster. No need for insurance though. Happy travels.
Not in NJ at all. I’m a California girl.
Here’s a service, supported by master traveler Chris Elliott, that allows you to compare travel insurance rates and coverage: Squaremouth.com.
I just experienced an emergency health situation while traveling in Switzerland. When I entered the hospital, my husband had to put a hefty (think thousands) deposit onto our credit card for the hospital’s use. So your advice to check out each destination is a good one. Not every place in Europe offers socialized medicine. Also check with your own insurance policy to see if you have worldwide coverage.
The best bang for your buck is to belong to a medical evacuation program (most are around $300 a year) that will bring you to the hospital of your choice from any hospital in the world. Travel insurance does not always cover that.
Thanks, Donna for the great advice on the medical evacuation program. I’ve heard that it can work well. So sorry to hear of the emergency situation and hope that you’re 100% in the pink again. Happiest of new years and travels. Elaine