The last thing you want to consider when planning your vacation is what to do if you get sick or injured while traveling. Talk about a downer. A medical issue can not only derail your fun – but also wreck your wallet, if you’re not prepared.
Here’s how to make sure you can access affordable care, should you need it, on your next trip.
It sounds elementary, but many people forget to bring along their insurance card and medications in the frenzy of packing. While pharmacies today can often get records of your prescriptions, you’ll save money by not having to shell out for the same medication you had at home.
Pack a First Aid Kit
Be ready to treat common illnesses and ailments on the go. Blisters, head aches and bug bites are the typical maladies of travel. Have a small stash of bandages, alcohol swabs, ibuprofen, decongestants and other basic fixes so you can easily access them at any time.
Call Your Home Doctor
While your home doctor can’t treat you over the phone, it doesn’t hurt to call for advice. Your primary care physician should be able to answer a question or at least point you in the direction of where you should go next for care.
Try the Pharmacy
Pharmacists are a friendly bunch that are often happy to have a quick chat with you about over-the-counter remedies that can help with common ailments like upset stomachs, allergies and head colds. They can also let you know if a medication you’re purchasing will interact negatively with a drug you’re currently taking.
If an ailment needs more than an over-the-counter remedy, call your insurer to see what benefits are available to you when you’re “out of area.” Inquire about out-of-pocket costs for urgent care and retail clinics, as well as emergency care. Also ask if you’ll need pre-authorization before hospitalization.
Use Walk-in Clinics
Retail clinics and urgent care centers offer convenient care for more serious ailments and injuries, no appointment necessary. What’s more, these clinics often post prices, so you know the cost upfront. To find a nearby clinic, use a site like Vitals.com, which has information on medical facilities as well as doctors.
ERs for Emergencies Only
When a sickness or injury is life threatening, or if no other care option is available, seek out the nearest emergency room immediately. And remember that 911 is available everywhere in the US and works on cell phones with or without a data plan.