If you’ve ever been traveling and needed medical care, you likely know how anxiety-producing it can be.
There are a number of situations where you might need medical attention when you’re away from home.
For example, you might be injured or develop symptoms of an illness such as COVID-19 or gastrointestinal illness.
Maybe you forgot or lost important medications, and you need a refill.
These are just a few of the many scenarios that could leave you needing to see a medical professional, so what should you do?
Virtual medical appointments weren’t new when the coronavirus pandemic struck, but that situation has made the idea of receiving telemedicine much more popular and common than it was prior to March of this year.
Of course, in an emergency situation or if you have an injury, virtual care may not work.
If you need a prescription or something similar, virtual care may work well. You may even be able to do a virtual visit with your doctor from home.
If not, some of the platforms that are great for telehealth right now include:
- MDLive: This app is available for both Android and iPhone, and it offers a connection to medical and pediatric doctors, as well as behavioral health therapy and psychiatry services. The app is intended for use when you have a non-emergency issue and your primary care physician isn’t available. Physicians on the app are board-certified and state licensed.
- Lemonaid: Lemonaid has become a popular platform for virtual care. You pay a $25 doctor consultation fee, and then you can also get fast, free delivery from the Lemonaid Pharmacy. Once you pay the fee, you can get an immediate video chat with a doctor or a review within two hours.
- LiveHealth Online Mobile: LiveHeallth is a simple way to access doctors for conditions like allergies, bronchitis, and skin infections. Lactation consultants, licensed therapists, and registered dietitians are also on the app.
- Amwell: This is one of the leading virtual health care platforms. You can schedule appointments, and you can use your insurance or pay for services out of pocket, which range from $69 or less, up to $200 if you schedule a psychiatry appointment.
What to Do Before Your Trip
The best thing to do before you travel is to be prepared for the potential you could get sick or injured. You should always get travel insurance, especially if you’re going to be traveling abroad.
Many emergency rooms and clinics won’t take your insurance if you’re out of the U.S., but travel insurance may cover these costs.
You should also bring enough of your prescription medicine to last you the entirety of your trip, and perhaps a little extra.
Bring a spare pair of contacts and a few OTC medicines. OTC medicines to pack every time you travel include diarrhea medicine, antacid, pain and fever reducers, motion sickness medicine, and an antihistamine.
Emergency Room or Urgent Care?
If you get sick or hurt on vacation, you might wonder if you should go to an ER or urgent care. It depends.
If you’re dealing with something that needs treatment but isn’t severe, it’s probably best to go to an urgent care or after-hours clinic.
If there’s a severe or life-threatening condition, then the ER is the best place to go. ER care is more specialized and, therefore more expensive usually.
If you can, before you get any care or treatment, talk to your insurance company or travel insurance provider to find out what coverage you have. You’ll also need to ask them what the procedure is for submitting claims when traveling internationally if you’re out of the country.
If you aren’t sure where to go, speak to your hotel desk or concierge. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
Keep Track of Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses
If you receive any medical care while you’re traveling and you have to pay at the time of service, use your credit card.
Get a statement from the provider, and in English if possible. The statement should have the date, the condition treated, and any services performed.
Then, your credit card company will convert whatever you pay into USD, and you can submit that to your insurance company for reimbursement.
No one wants to get sick or hurt on vacation, but telehealth services have made life more convenient for a lot of people, and that might be your first step if you need care while you’re away.