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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director


Sick happens. and while it’s never fun, it’s particularly problematic if you happen to be traveling at the time. So, what can you do to make sure you’ll be cared for, without going bankrupt, when you’re traveling abroad? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Closed suitcase with books and sunglasses on top of it

Be Prepared Before You Leave

  • Check insurance coverage with your carrier and specifically identify whether or not you are covered while traveling abroad. Ask for advice on medical care while traveling.
  • If your insurance policy does not cover you abroad, consider purchasing a short-term health insurance policy that does. There are short-term policies specifically designed to cover travel.
  • Be sure to have your health insurance identification card and a claim form with you while traveling.
  • Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States. But you can look into foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.
  • Be sure to complete the information page on the inside of your passport, providing the name, address, and telephone number of someone to contact in case of emergency.
  • If you have a pre-existing medical condition, carry a letter from your primary healthcare provider describing the condition and any prescription medicines you are currently taking. These should include generic names for these medicines.
  • Be sure to bring any medicines you are taking with you outside the United States in their clearly labeled original containers. Some medicines are considered to be highly illegal narcotics in foreign countries. You will want to check with the foreign embassy of the country you are visiting about restrictions.

Getting Care If You Become Ill or Injured While Traveling

Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a list of local healthcare providers and medical facilities.

If your illness is serious, consular officers can help you find medical assistance, and, if you desire, inform your family and/or friends.

If necessary, consuls can also assist in the transfer of funds from family or friends in the United States. Payment of hospital and other medical bills are the travelers' responsibility.

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