Medical Information for Americans Traveling
Before traveling abroad, American
citizens should know about the services that are offered by the U.S. embassies and
consulates. U.S. consular officers can help in finding medical care, transferring
and telling relatives about a health condition should an illness arise during travel.
But U.S. consular officers can't act
as lawyers or bankers. Plus, payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility
of the traveler. Many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable"
hospital costs abroad. But very few will pay for medical transport back to the U.S.
evacuation can easily cost $25,000 or more, even more than $100,000, depending on
location and health condition. Some private supplemental travel insurance plans provide
coverage for overseas medical costs as well as medical evacuation. The Medicare program
doesn't provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the U.S. in most cases.
Older adults may learn more about foreign medical coverage with Medicare supplement
by contacting AARP at 888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277).
Be prepared before you travel
The U.S. Department of State Bureau
of Consular Affairs advises the following for international travelers:
Learn what medical services
your health insurance will cover overseas before going abroad.
Carry both your insurance
policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form.
When going abroad with any
pre-existing health problems, carry a letter from your healthcare provider
describing the health condition and any prescription medicines, including the
generic name of medicines.
Keep medicines in their
original containers and be sure they are clearly labeled. Also make sure the
prescribed or required medicines are not considered to be illegal narcotics in the
countries that you will visit. Contact the foreign embassies before you
Complete the information page
on the inside of your passport listing the name, address, and phone number of
someone to be contacted in an emergency.
Take a listing of addresses
and telephone numbers of U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries you will
visit. They keep a list of hospitals and healthcare providers in the area.
Some countries require
foreign visitors to have vaccines or medical tests before entering. At least 4 to
6 weeks before traveling, check the latest entry requirements with the
CDC travelers website, the
foreign embassy of the country to be visited, or a dedicated travel clinic.
For current international travel advice and restrictions, visit the