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Health Abroad

Traveling overseas is an exciting endeavor. Whether you are a student taking a semester abroad or simply touring a foreign country for business or pleasure, a wonderful trip can be cut short if you ever need medical assistance. While you may never need medical care when traveling, it’s important to know about health care abroad and who you can turn to. The sections below provide helpful information about how to prepare for a trip, and what to do if you need international health assistance.

About Foreign Travel Health Insurance

First, start with your US health insurance company. Talk with a representative about healthcare covered by your health insurance policy. If you are covered outside of the United States, you are responsible for carrying your health insurance ID card and a claim form.

Note: Although your medical coverage provider may cover international health insurance services, medical evacuation to the United States will not be covered – unless this is explicitly included in your current policy. Costs for an air ambulance can be as high as $10,000.

If you come down with an illness or other medical injury while traveling abroad, contact the US embassy or consulate. A US consular officer will aid you in finding a medical clinic that works with your health insurance abroad, and contact family members. In some cases, he or she will assist you in transferring funds from the US. At no point in time though is the US embassy responsible for paying for your medical expenses – this always is your full responsibility as a patient.

As a precaution, you may want to consider getting vaccinated. There are some countries where certain vaccines for travel are actually mandated. Review the Vaccines for Travel page for more information.


Medicare does not serve as travel medical insurance. Senior citizens who use Medicare can contact the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for ideas about international travel medical insurance.

Student Health Insurance Abroad

When choosing a semester abroad, students need to look into more than just coursework. Getting international medical coverage is also a priority before embarking on this academic journey. The first option is with your university or college. Many college healthcare plans will cover partial costs for medical services performed out of the United States.

If not, you can purchase a private health insurance travel abroad policy. There are several medical insurance providers that specialize in travel health insurance. Either browse overseas medical insurance options online, or call and speak to a representative directly.

How to Travel with Prescription Medicine

As you may learn by reviewing customs restrictions (visit the Custom Restrictions page for details), medication is often on the radar of customs officials. The transport of narcotics is strictly observed, and certain ingredients used in the US could be illegal in another country. To avoid any confusion, keep your prescription medication in appropriate packaging – the bottles issued by a registered pharmacist in the US. As an extra layer of protection, ask your physician or pharmacist to write a letter describing your medical condition and the use of the prescription.