Ready to do all that traveling you’ve put off over the years? Now that you’re retired, it’s time to start ticking off the boxes on your bucket list, visiting friends in far-off places and taking more time to see those grandchildren you miss so much. In fact, according to industry research, boomers spend $157 billion on trips every year!
No matter how far from home (or how near, if you pick the right plan), the last thing you want to deal with or think about is getting sick or in an accident. But what happens if something does go wrong? Will your insurance cover your costs? And if you need medical evacuation back to your home medical network, will you have the funds? Fact is, if you think Medicare is going to fly you home or your current health insurance plan is going to cover major medical costs incurred (way) outside your network, you’ve got another think coming.
So what’s a boomer traveler to do? Read on for some important insurance tips, especially if you already have conditions requiring a little extra care (heart conditions, diabetes, etc.)
Shop around If you’re on Medicare, you might find supplement plans to be a good choice, as they include some international coverage (they can include Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.) Others, like the Medicare Advantage plans, cover emergency services for domestic travel, but that coverage varies between PPOs and HMOs. Check the Explanation of Coverage (EOC) for your plan before you head out. However, if you’re planning on traveling outside the United States, you’ll need to purchase supplemental travel health insurance, as Medicare will not pay for services received abroad.
Look into additional emergency travel medical protection Especially if you’re traveling abroad, but it’s also a good idea to have this coverage if you’re going to travel domestically but still outside of your home network. Case in point: you live in Kansas but you go on a skiing trip to Vermont—and you end up with a compound fracture on your second day on the slopes (yep, it’s happened.) The last thing you need is a mass of medical bills incurred in Vermont when you could be stabilized and transported back to your home hospital within your network—and near your family. Medical evacuation bills start in the thousands and if you’re overseas, could run into the tens of thousands. Plus, most foreign hospitals and services require up-front payment—in cash.
Get a pre-travel exam According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seniors should see a doctor for a pre-travel visit, ideally 4-6 weeks before they travel. Talk to your doctor about any illnesses you may have and the medication you’re taking. Find out if you’re up-to-date on your routine vaccinations, including your tetanus booster. Discuss your destination and your plans—for example, if you have a heart or a breathing condition, altitude and a non-stop itinerary could take its toll.
Stock up on your medication When you’re at the doctor’s office, ask for a 90-day prescription of your current meds and stock up through mail order. Make sure the labels match your boarding pass. You don’t have to take it all with you in your carry-on, just make sure you have enough in there to cover yourself in case of lost luggage. Many supplemental emergency medical programs include travel assistance with securing prescription medication overseas should you run out or lose it.
Take your medical documentation with you This is part two of the above paragraph: carry your insurance card, your physician’s contact info and a list of your medications and your medical conditions—add to that your emergency travel medical services card with their emergency number and your membership number. You might also want to take a list of any allergies you may have (plus their translation in the language of the country you’re visiting.)
Do you have any tips to add? Hit us in the comments! And, as always, safe travels!