Many international jetsetters typically think more about the adventures they’ll have abroad than what could go wrong. But it’s a sad reality that one in 30 vacations end in a medical emergency. With many international travelers needing emergency medical attention, you need to know what to do if you’re hospitalized abroad.
Find a Reputable Hospital
When you’re visiting a foreign country, you could encounter difficulties knowing which hospital to trust. Before you leave, do some research about the hospitals close to your accommodations. If they seem credible, add their phone numbers to your contacts so that you have them during an emergency.
Add the contact details of the U.S. Embassy to your phone as well. If you’re not sure where to find your nearest reputable hospital, a consular officer can offer advice. The embassy will also alert your family or friends of your hospitalization, giving you one less concern to worry about.
Communicate With the Medical Staff
Communicating with medical staff abroad can be challenging if you don’t speak the language. However, communicating your symptoms and understanding your treatment options are vital for quality care. Request an English-speaking doctor and nurses. If they are not available, ask for an on-site translator. If all else fails, contact the U.S. Embassy in the country. Officials at the embassy should be able to organize assistance for you.
Know Your Level of Coverage
If you don’t organize medical coverage before you leave for your travels, you’ll likely find yourself facing significant bills for your international hospital stay.
You may have had people tell you that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. The medical component is one of the most important parts of any good travel insurance policy. Your insurance should cover your hospital stay and any medications and procedures you need to return to health.
Unfortunately, travel insurance will provide coverage only for your medical care. For extra peace of mind that you can get to a specialist hospital or a treatment facility in your home country, consider a travel protection membership such as MedjetHorizon. Members receive all the benefits of MedjetAssist membership, including transport between international and domestic hospitals, as well as ground ambulance transfer, specialty hospital transfer, air medical transport benefits, travel security services, and crisis response.
Choose the most comprehensive coverage options you can afford and know your level of coverage. Print any documents you receive and keep copies with your passport so that you can refer to them if you’re hospitalized. Make sure you’re aware of the claims processes so that you follow the right steps during your hospital stay.
Seek Treatment Quickly
Don’t put off visiting a hospital because you’re worried about language barriers or the treatment you’ll receive. Delaying medical treatment can cause minor complications to become major. For example, dengue fever, common through the Americas and Southwest Asia, can turn deadly in three to seven days. Treatment from experienced practitioners can reduce mortality rates from more than 20 percent to less than 1 percent.
Being hospitalized abroad can be scary. When you keep the above tips in mind, you’ll get the health care you need without putting a massive dent in your vacation budget.