Summer is Just Around the Corner

DOR MAY 5 HEALTH CORNER Sora MugSummer is around the corner and most of us are probably planning for vacation destinations; many for a trip somewhere outside of the US: Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East or Asia.

According to recent statistics, out of approximately 320 million Americans, 46% (142.2 million) own passports of which 25 percent (36.8 million) will actually travel abroad — although not exact figures, they’re are pretty close. If you are planning a trip as an individual or with family to some exotic location, what should you be looking for when traveling abroad?

Health Issues

Did anybody say ‘shots’? Yes, there are countries inside and outside our hemisphere borders that, whether required or not, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you live in Miami there are a couple of places that offer information on what shots are needed and for which country. You can find more information at Or you can go online and search “Travel Immunization” to see a list of almost everyone who can help you travel safely.

It’s also a good idea for the international traveler to check with Dept. of State to make sure the country you’re bound for is safe.

Travel Insurance?

Last but not least! Prior to the worldwide economic crisis, traveling around to most places would simply mean getting a passport, a toothbrush and enough underwear to last out the trip. Actually, in most cases a backpack would most probably do the job.

If anyone became sick during a trip, most anywhere in the world (especially Europe) has hospital treatment available — for less cost than buying a hamburger at ‘MickeyD’s,’ although low medical prices have changed recently, especially in Europe. After the economic crisis most European countries, specifically Spain and Portugal, have begun charging for medical services up front. So, even if you don’t plan to get sick on the trip, plan for unexpected!

Another misconception is the use of our own U.S. insurance, and Medicare. We think that because we have homebased health insurance, we’ll be covered anywhere in the world. If your carrier does cover your emergency illness in other countries, it will probably entail your paying up front, then fighting with your American carrier over reimbursement upon your return. (Do you know how expensive medical treatment can be in Europe; when you are paying in Euros? BTW: if you are on Medicare, you won’t be covered, once leaving the U.S.

Check Carefully!

If you buy your tickets through a travel agent, I know they’ll normally ask you if you want to purchase insurance. Well, that’s okay if what you want is Travel Interruption Insurance. But if you really want to be covered for an unforeseen event, or you have a pre-existing condition that could lay you up in the hospital for a week or more (and return home First Class — or even medically-evacuated from an African Jungle), Travel Interruption Insurance won’t be sufficient.

Google “International Health Insurance” for a list of companies offering such coverage. A word to the wise: when you Google, do not simply click on Travel Insurance because that will limit your options. International health insurance prices are similar wherever you go since only a handful of companies offer such services. Look for services that each company provides, how far is their outreach, and how effective is their international network when researching.

Finally, remember a few basics:

• Make sure you have all required shots – and some not required.

• Visit the US Dept. of State site for Alerts and Warnings.

• Visit < resources.htm> for Health and Travel Alert links.

• Don’t leave home without your International Health Insurance.

Here’s hoping this advice will help you get a leg up on planning your summer trip safely. Then, it’s really: Bon Voyage!!!

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