• Country-by-country: What to know if you get sick while traveling abroad

    By: Nicole Carr

    Updated:

    Medical facilities may accept U.S. health insurance, but will require a deposit up front for non-emergency care. In addition to our investigative report, here are some important resources for your next trip abroad.

    Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr found in her investigation that a patient will most likely have to pay the full charge to the hospital, and get reimbursed by the insurance company after returning to the United States.


    Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr went undercover in a private Mexican hospital in a special report exploring tourists' true costs for care in a medical emergency. Read and watch her report here.


    Here are a few of the policies in popular travel destinations:

    Bahamas:

    Ambulances on New Providence Island (i.e.: Nassau) are hampered by its endemic traffic congestion, while on many islands ambulances are merely means of transportation to where medical help is available. They may have little or no advanced life support and stabilization equipment.

    Mexico:

    Hospitals in Mexico generally require payment up-front for services rendered and will place holds on credit cards if a patient is admitted. The U.S. Government does not pay for medical care overseas. Some private U.S. insurance companies pay for medical care overseas, but usually on a reimbursable basis, meaning that you will need to pay first and request reimbursement later. Patients should contact their insurance company as soon as possible to understand exactly what services the insurance company will cover. 

    Jamaica:

    Medical care is much more limited than in the United States. Comprehensive but basic emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. The availability of prescription drugs, emergency medical care, and ambulance services are limited in outlying parishes.

    Ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the country. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost 15,000 – 20,000 USD or more. Private doctors and hospitals in Jamaica often require cash payment prior to providing services, sometimes in emergency cases.

    United Kingdom:

    Medical treatment is not provided free of charge to visitors to the United Kingdom. Visitors to the United Kingdom do not qualify for treatment under the National Health Service. Noted: There is no specific policy regarding U.S. insurer payment listed on the Embassy site.

    Italy:

    If you or a U.S. citizen loved one become seriously ill or injured abroad, a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Rome or from the Consulates General in Milan, Florence and Naples can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing your family or friends.  We can assist you in returning to the United States after your recovery. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is the patient’s responsibility.

    France: 

    There’s no payment policy offered by the Embassy, but there is an extensive guide to receiving emergency care that you can visit by clicking here.

    Archipelago.(islands in the Baltic Sea):

    Trauma care is especially problematic throughout the islands. Transportation to a medical facility can use up valuable time in an emergency. There are no local “life flight” helicopters typically found in major U.S. metropolitan areas. Medical transport is often via boat, fixed-wing aircraft, or — if available — U.S. Coast Guard craft. 

    The State Department has a list of tips, click here.


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