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Archive for Sunday, November 13, 2005

Check coverage before traveling

November 13, 2005

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Finding airline tickets and hotels, packing all you'll need and getting a good currency-exchange rate are just a few of the items on your checklist when planning a trip.

But when traveling outside your home state - and especially if you're traveling out of the country - here's one more important thing to think about: Check what coverage your health-care plan provides away from home.

Many insurance companies require special documents from any doctor or hospital you visit out of your city. Your health maintenance organization may have a reciprocity agreement with an HMO in the area where you'll be traveling. If not, you may need those special documents to get reimbursed.

For names of practitioners in an unfamiliar place, ask your county medical or dental society. The Travelers Aid Society will also give you the name and address of the nearest hospital. Before your trip, ask your regular doctor for advice about the place you plan to visit.

Take along an ample supply of any medication you or your children may need, together with any prescription information from your pharmacist. Bring these in your carry-on bags, not in a suitcase that might be lost during a long plane journey.

If you run out of your medication, you probably will need to see a local doctor for a new prescription.

When you are overseas, a U.S. embassy or consulate can provide names of English-speaking doctors, though the U.S. government does not guarantee their expertise. Doctors' and hospital bills overseas usually must be paid in cash, but your health insurance may reimburse you - after you return home.

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