Medical Emergencies Abroad

Jun 1, 2004
2004 / June-July 2004

In the event of a medical emergency, could you trust the medical care you would receive in a third-world country? Could you be safely transported back to the hospital of your choice in the United States?

Medical emergencies overseas happen more often than you’d think. What if an accident or sudden illness landed you in a hospital bed far from home? If you can’t sit in your assigned seat, commercial airlines aren’t obligated to let you board. Your premium credit card may not get you home, and you can’t always count on travel or health insurance.

U.S. Department of State policy dictates that if you become seriously ill, a U.S. consular officer can assist you in locating appropriate medical services, informing family and friends about your medical situation and transferring funds, but payment for medical and other expenses remains the responsibility of the traveler.

The State Department suggests that before going abroad, travelers verify what medical services their health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, carry both your insurance policy identity card and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation-easily $10,000 or more-back to the United States.

The State Department Web site lists medical information resources at www.travel.state.gov/medical.htm. One I have found extremely helpful for the busy traveler is AirMed International LLC. As a critical-care nurse, I am impressed with AirMed’s professionalism, experience and dedication to the patients in its care during transport to the United States. AirMed’s mission is to provide a level of patient care in flight that rivals that of the finest American hospitals. It is the only U.S.-based medical air-transport organization with its own fleet of custom-designed medical jets.

If you’re an AirMed Traveler hospitalized more than 150 miles from where you live, AirMed International’s health-care air transportation team will fly you to a hospital anywhere you choose in a medically equipped jets. With one phone call, AirMed’s expert medical staff will handle your arrangements from hospital bed to hospital bed, including ground ambulance service on both ends and streamlined Customs clearance. AirMed’s specially trained medical teams consist of physicians, ICU nurses and respiratory therapists.

AirMed membership costs $225 a year for an individual, $325 for a family. For more information, call 800 356 2161 or visit www.airmed.aero.

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