Things to Prepare in Case of Medical Emergencies Abroad

Savvy travelers know to prepare for worst-case scenarios that could occur while on an overseas trip, but we daresay many don’t go as far as planning what they will do if they need to visit an emergency room. After all, no one goes on a trip expecting to get sick or injured. You prepare a basic first-aid kit and pillbox and do your best to take care of yourselves while exploring new countries.

That said, accidents can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. A walk along the white, sandy beaches of Bali is harmless, for example, but one unfortunate step over the sharp edge of a broken shell can have you needing stitches. What will you do next?

Don’t wait until you need emergency medical services before realizing what to do or what you should have brought with you. Here is a list of the things to include in your carry bag or luggage should you need to visit a hospital while vacationing abroad.

1. Insurance Policy

Check if your insurance policy offers health insurance coverage for injuries and illnesses abroad. Americans whose primary health insurances are Medicare or Medicaid, for example, will have to purchase travel insurance because these state-supported programs do not cover healthcare for travelers.

Travel medical insurance is a short-term policy covering the costs of your medical emergency treatments while traveling outside your country. It typically covers trips for at most six months or 180 days. Travel insurance often offers unique perks, too, like transportation to the airport and upgraded airline seats on your trip home.

Some health insurance plans by private companies cover some medical services abroad (e.g., ambulance service, a portion of the physician’s fees), but there are caveats, which will be discussed in the next section. Take note, too, that some countries require foreign visitors to show proof of travel medical insurance before they are allowed entry into the country.

Here are a few more matters to confirm with your insurer:

  • Will your policy cover the countries you will visit?
  • What type of medical emergencies will your policy cover? What events will it not cover?
  • How much is your maximum health coverage benefit?

2. Emergency Cash or Credit Card

Suppose your health insurance does cover medical expenses incurred abroad. It is unlikely that the policy will pay for the cost of your ER treatment upfront; you may still have to pay for it out-of-pocket. Only when you’ve returned home can you file a reimbursement claim from your insurance company. So consider carrying emergency cash, especially if you’re headed somewhere remote. Alternatively, bring a credit card that’s accepted in the ATMs in your destination.

3. Doctor’s Note

If you’re taking medicine for a chronic condition, have your doctor draft a letter or summary of your diagnosis and current medications (include the dosages and generic names; brand names alone may not be recognizable in other countries). A signed doctor’s note will make the attending foreign physicians aware of your current medical condition. This will also help prevent medicine prescriptions that may counteract your ongoing treatments.

4. Emergency Contact Information

At the very least, make sure that the emergency contact person and numbers in your passport are up to date. ; If your emergency contact is one of your travel companions, provide a secondary contact person from your home country. This ensures that someone back home will be informed if you need urgent return transport, or if your traveling companion is also indisposed.

If you have trouble finding medical treatment abroad, you can always contact your country’s embassy and ask for their assistance. For our part, Kasih Ibu Hospital is ready to assist in whatever way we can if you are a foreign national seeking emergency medical treatment in Bali. We’ve been providing emergency and non-emergency services to locals and foreigners in Bali for over 30 years.

If you need quality medical and hospital care in Bali, you can visit the nearest of our six facilities on the island. You may also call our Customer Care at (0361) 300 4040 or visit our website for details.

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