When planning for a trip do you cover all bases? What do you do when you’re overseas and in a jam requiring medical assistance? Most people who have mental illness/disorder or physical medical needs aren’t prepared when traveling abroad. Hello all you rockers of words, today’s blog is inspired by a conversation that points out what the lack of preparedness when traveling. A few days ago I had an interesting conversation about travel, mental health and the medical profession. I mentioned to my buddy who lives in Scotland that I will be paying a visit in Spring. As the conversation goes on I asked is there a Starbucks, US banking institutions like Chase, Wells Fargo or Capital One. I also asked if there’s stores like Walmart or Target. My buddy reply is yes yes and yes but you forgot the most important thing medical. He began to teach me about NHS (National Healthcare Service). NHS is free healthcare provided by the Scottish government. He gave some interesting tips and what I can expect should my Chum decides to take over. Under the NHS everything is covered including mental health services. Prescription is an out of pocket expense and not covered. This intrigued me peaking my interest. In researching I found there’s a lot of countries that supports free medical programs or services that includes services for mental illness.
This blog is not politically motivated. This blog is simply informational. I have to admit, I have traveled thousands of miles and in my journeys I discovered some type of free healthcare services for mental and physical wellbeing. European countries like Italy, Ireland, England, Wales has some form of a national health service that give free coverage of medical, dental and vision. Most NHS requires out of pocket expense for prescriptions. Of course if you’re covered by private insurance it’s wise to contact a travel agent, state department (or equivalent) or healthcare provider to know your options. Here are some examples of what to expect while traveling.
The Great White North “Canada”
Canada has a type of universal healthcare “Medicare”. However, if you are not a permanent resident you are not eligible for free medical and is responsible for medical services performed. It’s true that thirty percent of Canadians medical is paid by the private sector with a supplementary or secondary insurance that covers the cost of prescription drugs, dental and vision. Canada do offer various healthcare programs for its residence. Those who are on a short term basis is required to purchase “Travel Insurance”.
The Land Down Under “Australia”
Australia version of “Medicare” is a program of the Department of Human Services and is free for most residents. Medicare is funded by Medicare Levy with two percent of the population paying taxes into this levy. Those residents who earn higher wages are required to pay an additional levy (Medicare Levy Surcharge) if they don’t have private insurance. Residents with certain medical conditions, foreign residence and some low income earners are not eligible for Medicare and may apply for an exemption from paying the levy. It’s not clear of what percentage is mental illness is covered under this program most likely it’s a case by case basis.
The US has its versions of a semi free program like medical, medicare and Obamacare but these programs is a start but most foreign visitors who aren’t legal citizens or residents are not eligible. You still need some type of private insurance to maintain your health. Unfortunately insurance has many avenues that gets tricky like knowing the difference between “PPO” or “HMO”. This is where “Travel Insurance” comes in handy. There are many different policies to choose from. It’s true that the US has the best medical but without any insurance to help that cost comes at a hefty price. If uninsured, a trip to the emergency room can run you into the thousands. Travel Insurance is offered by many companies it can get overwhelming. This is where research is helpful. If you have private insurance speak with your healthcare provider to find out if the policy is covered in foreign countries. Those who are in therapy speak to your medical team or Doctor or Therapist to see if they can recommend someone for the length of your trip. Always follow up with your healthcare provider after getting recommendations from your medical team.
This is an aspect of travel that most jetsetters don’t take into account. I spoke with my medical team and my Doctor gave me suggestions on therapist to contact while in Scotland. She also gave me information on where to get prescriptions, and what hospital to attend in case of emergency. Most people diagnosed with an illness or disorder don’t realize the importance of having a wider safety net. Help is available and don’t be afraid to seek help no matter where you are.
Until next time….
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