How to Handle Your Health Care When Moving Abroad
When I decided to move to Ireland I just figured that all other details would resolve itself, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. However, after reading many other travel articles, talking to my fellow Coddiwompler, and listening to my mother questioning my every move, I realized that there are many details that have to be thought about. One big one is health care. Up until now, I’ve been resting easy because I am under my parents’ health care plan. However, that all ends when I turn 25. I will be turning 25 while I am in Ireland. So not only is it goodbye America but also goodbye cozy health care. So in order to have a health care plan set up, here are a few steps I have taken (and you should too) to have affordable health care when moving abroad.
Meet with you doctor
Set an appointment with your doctor to talk about your options. Or if you’re cheap like me, sneak in the conversation during another appointment (not about that co-pay life). I did this early on because I had no idea what to expect and if the process would take a long time. Also, despite the fact that I have 1 ½ degrees (finish my Master’s in May), I am pretty clueless when it comes to common sense things. If it wasn’t for my mother asking me about my prescriptions once abroad, I would have never thought to ask. In my ridiculous mind, my doctor was just going to move with me or we would have appointments over Skype (jk I’m not that dumb, I swear).
Aside from her telling me how much she was going to miss me, she told me the process would be quite easy. She suggested that I’m going to need to establish a doctor when I get over there (I had not known that) and that I should look for one right away. She said it would suck to find a doctor only when an emergency arises. How right she is because if I took that route, it could end up costing me more.
Get extended prescription before you leave
Even though she advised me to look for a doctor right away, we planned it to where she will write me a prescription that would last for a couple of months. This way I would be covered in case I couldn’t find a doctor right away. Plus, typically when meeting up when a new doctor, it takes some time before you start receiving your prescription, which could be detrimental if this is a medication you need every day. So ask your doctor and see if you can have a prescription written before you leave to hold you over for a while.
Try to get a doctors note
Something else amazing about my doctor is that she offered to write me a note to take with, or be faxed, to the new doctor that states what kind of medication I take and why I should stay on it. When changing doctors, some often have a go-to drug brand that they would prescribe that is different from what you’re taking. My body reacts very dramatically to different drugs so this is why she offered to write a note to send with me in order to get the prescription I usually have. If you are one like me that fears having to change up medication, then this would be the tip I most highly advocate for. For those whose prescription is not so serious, it wouldn’t hurt to still ask because your brand could be the cheapest.
Now I will acknowledge that your prescription brand could not be available everywhere or could cost more to obtain. This is something to think about. However, this is a conversation to have with your new doctor. So just in case, it wouldn’t hurt to still have that letter.
So I’m not only talking about establishing health care when moving abroad but accessing affordable health care when moving abroad. This is something that having insurance will make easy. Now there are a lot of great insurance plans that will cover you no matter where you move. However, not all are as great. For those that are not that great, look into international plans. So the Wayfaring Photographer and I are going through a company called BUNAC that is helping us with the visa and insurance coverage through their company. Their insurance coverage includes, but is not limited to:
- Accident and Sickness Medical
- Emergency Dental
- Sudden Relief of Pain Dental
- Emergency Medical Evacuations
- Accidental Death & Dismemberment
- Mental Illness (Inpatient and Outpatient)
- Ambulance Service
- And much more
Their insurance even covers some non-medical situations such as lost baggage and emergency reunion. So we got very lucky that the company we’re going through offers so much. However, if we did not have this chance, we would be looking for others like it that are typically geared towards travelers. There are many out there but try to find one that fits your needs and is affordable.
Research doctors ahead of time
It doesn’t hurt to look up doctors before you go. BUNAC (expect to see an article about how great they are) provides a link to providers that fall under their insurance. Many insurance companies do this to save from an intense hunt which is very helpful. Having someone in mind ahead of time saves you from schlepping all over town trying to find a doctor.
So please keep these tips in mind when trying to figure out your health care for living abroad!
Good information that everyone needs to consider and not take for granted or overlook.