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Getting sick in a foreign country

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Getting sick in a foreign country

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It is not pleasant to be sick at anytime, even at home. But it is much worse when it happens away from home. When you are outside of your familiar territory, you are not near your doctors and your basic support system. Family members and friends may not be able to visit you or speak for you on your condition. The health care systems in foreign countries may be different from what you know at home. While it may be superior or inferior, just the fact that it is different may be an issue.

Before you travel[edit]

Before you leave your home country, it is necessary that you come up with a plan in case you come in need of medical attention abroad. Even if you are a seemingly healthy individual, you never know what may strike at any time without warning. For some people, the very conditions in a foreign country may be too much for one's body to handle.

  • Insurance: Contact your health insurance provider and ask if they will cover you while in a foreign country, and importantly, the specific one(s) where you plan to travel. If they do not, it is necessary to purchase a travel insurance policy that covers your care abroad. Be aware that in many countries, hospitals and doctors have the right to refuse to treat visitors without a guarantee of payment, even in a life-threatening situation.
  • Ask your doctor if travel is safe for you: For some individuals, travel far from home, even within one's own country, can be hazardous to one's health. There are many reasons for this. If in doubt, make an appointment with your physician. And even if you can, your physician may give you some advice to follow.
  • Get vaccinated if necessary: Find out what immunizations are recommended for the places where you plan to travel and ask your doctor at home or find a local clinic that offers them.

Cost of care[edit]

If you need medical care while abroad, you will somehow have to pay for it. And the cost may not be cheap. And your insurance from another country may not be honored. In many countries, health care facilities, including those providing emergency care, will refuse a patient when they do not have verification that they will receive full payment for the services, even if denial or delay results in a patient's death!!! To prevent this, it is necessary to have a plan lined up for the event that emergency care is needed.

Many countries offer universal health care . . . to their citizens. If you are a citizen or legal permanent resident of a country, you may be able to take advantage of that country's care. But if you are a foreign visitor, if you do not have a method of payment, you are out of luck.

Some plans offer payment that you can show with no cash up front. Others require that you pay the full cost out of pocket and then you are reimbursed after the fact.