Learn How To Cope With Medical Emergencies while Living Abroad
Residing overseas, whether to work, study, volunteer, travel, or retire, can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. What if expatriates become ill and require medical emergency assistance? Expatriates usually spend a significant period abroad, and they may be more exposed to health risks and medical emergencies than short-term visitors. In this article, we will discuss five tips for expats on coping with a medical emergency while living abroad as an expatriate or global nomad.
1. Know Whom to Contact for Emergency Help
When expatriates require immediate medical attention abroad, the first thing to do is to seek help. According to Government of Canada Assistance Abroad, if sickness or injury occurs while abroad, firstly, expatriates can seek help through nearby major tourist hotels. These major hotels usually have an in-house doctor and first aid kit. If you require urgent care, expatriates should contact the nearest hospital or clinic as soon as possible.
If an accident or something terrible happens, expatriates are encouraged to contact the embassy overseas. The government embassies and consulates’ contact directory is often listed on your home country’s official website. For example, the Government of Canada has a complete directory contains contact information for embassies that provide consular services to Canadian citizens abroad. The embassy will help to schedule medical assistance or legal representation. Many expat employers and organizations offer emergency medical assistance package to ensure their expat employees’ safety. They can help notify their family or friends.
Call the Insurer Immediately!
Finally, make sure you, the hospital or your family member call your health insurance provider. This is crucial because failing to do so may result in a delay in treatment or you having to pay out of pocket. You can call the global insurance provider and provide your policy number and the hospital can provide the medical situation, plan and treatment requirements. Most insurance providers can then provide confirmation of coverage or guarantee of treatment (GOP) via email or fax. If you have gone to a hospital in your insurer’s medical network. You may be able to present your health card and receive treatment more quickly and not have to pay out of pocket costs.
Note that if you have a deductible, you may have to pay this first or after treatment. Note that the insurer can often provide some treatment advice and assistance to the hospital and maybe suggest that you may have to be medically evacuated. if the medical directors at the insurer feel that the hospital or country you are located in can’t provide adequate treatment. Any medical evacuation has to be coordinated and approved by your insurance provider.
2. Make Sure You Have Carried the Necessary Documents
It is essential to carry medical files and healthcare insurance documents or cards with you when seeking emergency medical assistance abroad. If an illness is related to pre-existing chronic medical conditions such as heart diseases, arthritis, diabetes, depression & mental illness, then bring a copy of the medical history. Expatriates should keep significant phone numbers of the country they are in. Some countries require upfront medical payments. In that case, expatriates should also bring cash, credit card, or ATM card with them split between bags for safety concerns.
3. Invest in Quality International Health Insurance with Medical Emergency Evacuation Coverage
Although the medical issue is among one of the most critical considerations for expats living and working overseas, many of them are not aware of the high medical expenses that can occur without appropriate health insurance coverage. Most expatriates living abroad will want to use private medical facilities. Compared to long line-ups and long waiting periods in the public healthcare system, private medical facilities usually provide better services.
However, many overseas hospitals cost extremely high in a medical emergency. For example, in Hong Kong, China, the cost of an emergency visit at public hospitals can be HK$600 as an expatriate without insurance coverage. It could be thousands more if the expatriate visits private hospitals, not including the cost of private medical room overnight. Expats must obtain an international health insurance plan to cover medical costs before departure.
When it comes to severe medical emergencies, evacuation may be needed via ambulance. Sometimes if the destination country’s healthcare facility is a low standard, it may even require an air ambulance. The cost of providing air ambulance comes at an enormous price. Expatriates must ensure an adequate medical emergency medical plan covers them.
4. Learn Key Medical Phrases in Local Language
Another tip to cope with a medical emergency while living abroad is by making an effort to familiarize yourself with the local language. You should be able to express general information such as an address, phone number, and contact information of a colleague. Knowing simple emergency phrases such as “Please help me and take me to the closest hospital” could save you. We suggest expatriates carry a card with the necessary words in the local language.
5. Stay Informed If You Are Living in Dangerous Countries OR Countries With Sub-Standard Healthcare
We recommend expatriates arrange in advance for safe accommodations in their destination country. If you are relocating to a high crime area, it is essential to research and read safety guides. Expat Financial can source special risk plans that include war and terrorism insurance while providing professional, prompt, and focused service to all expats. Employers and individual expat families must pay close attention to health and safety issues. Some global insurance providers that we work with will allow you to search a list of hospitals in your country location that they have direct-pay relationships with. It is a good chance that the hospital in their list will be decent if the facility is in the medical network.
Expat Financial offers a wide range of expatriate health insurance plans designed specifically for any expatriates around the world. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you, want to discuss your needs and produce a customized evacuation quote, please contact us.