MEDICAL EVACUATION INSURANCE FOR REMOTE TRAVEL
You are making flight arrangements for that special trip: an exotic locale, an adventure tour, or a scientific expedition. Maybe someplace featured in these very pages! Your immediate excitement has been tempered by sobering thoughts of health and safety. You have searched the internet for travel advisory information about your developing world destination. The travel agent may have been to the area but probably stayed in a nice hotel in the capital city. You will stay there but have plans for a journey to see the temples in rural areas where accommodations are likely lower standard. You have been advised to sign up for travel insurance but you are inundated with confusing choices about insurance. There is just the usual generic advice about the site - drink only bottled water, get immunization for hepatitis and meningitis, have a tetanus shot within the last 10 years, eat only well-cooked food. Your local physician has little experience with travel medicine. Information about local health resources is non-existent or unreliable. Geopolitical information resources say the area is reasonably stable but there has been sporadic violent insurgent activity in rural areas for years and travel is advised with caution. Zika virus has been reported in the adjacent country. What should you do to prepare for your travel safety?
International travel has exploded over the past few decades with US residents making 61 million trips outside the US in 2009. There were 3.5 billion air travelers accounting for 2.3 trillion air miles in 2014 with more than half of these on international flights. Health problems are self-reported in up to nearly two thirds of people traveling to the developing world with about 8 percent of travelers becoming ill enough to seek medical care abroad or upon return home. Hmmm….8 percent of that huge number of travelers is a big number!
Ninety-two percent of American travelers desire immediate access to U. S. quality health care and the option to be transported home to receive treatment. Without medical evacuation insurance this is not likely to occur without very high personal cost to the victim.
BASIC INSURANCE GUIDELINES
Insurance coverage may be bundled in one policy or require separate policies. There are 3 major components of travel insurance: travel assistance, medical coverage, and evacuation. The most important are coverage for medical costs and evacuation.
Treatment of a traveler after a bad fall in the Andes.
Courtesy of Michael Manyak, MD