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Monday April 15, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Health Travel Tips for Travelers

We have been looking forward to traveling, but my spouse has a heart condition and back problems. What tips can you offer those with health issues who are planning to travel?

A dream vacation can turn into a nightmare if you get ill or injured while you are away and are not prepared. Before traveling, here are some tips to help ensure a safe trip:

Be prepared: Before you go, talk with your doctor about your travel itinerary and what precautions you need to take prior to traveling. You should also have your doctor's contact information with you when you travel, as well as a list of the medications you are taking in case you need emergency medical care while you are away.

It is also a smart idea to locate health clinics or urgent care facilities near the areas you are visiting. Your hotel can help you with this or a simple internet search can identify nearby health care services. If you are traveling abroad, the U.S. consulate or embassy in the countries you are visiting may provide referrals.

If you are traveling outside the U.S., you should find out the conditions in the countries you are visiting and what, if any, vaccinations or preventative medications are recommended. See CDC.gov/travel or call 800-232-4636 to get more information.

Check your insurance: If you have private health insurance or a Medicare Advantage plan through an HMO or PPO that covers in-network doctors only, check your plan to find out what is covered should you require medical care when traveling outside of your geographic area.

Beneficiaries that have original Medicare are covered across the U.S. However, if you are traveling abroad, coverage is typically not included, except for rare circumstances. Nevertheless, some Medicare Advantage plans and some Medigap supplemental policies do provide limited coverage. It is important to note that most private health plans do not pay health care costs outside the U.S. It is advisable to verify coverage details prior to travel.

Many individuals traveling abroad purchase travel insurance with medical coverage. Depending on the coverage purchased, these policies can include reimbursement if there is a trip cancellation, payment for medical treatment received overseas or costs for medical evacuations. It is best to get a policy that covers preexisting medical conditions.

Organize your medications: Make sure you have a sufficient supply of medications to last the entire duration of the trip. If traveling by air, you should pack necessary medication in your carry-on bag, in case your checked luggage is lost or misdirected. It is best to keep your medications in their original packaging to get through airport security without delays. Additionally, carrying a note from your doctor that explains why you take these medications, especially if syringes or other medical supplies are involved would be advisable.

For airport security requirements visit TSA.gov – and click on "Disabilities and Medical Conditions." You can also call TSA Cares at 855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.

Maximize technology: Keep a list of your medications and other important health and medical information with you or on your smartphone to easily access and share with emergency health care providers when you are traveling.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 12, 2024

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