While the spread of COVID-19 is a global health concern, it’s very important for all of us to be vigilant regarding other issues and concerns related to health and wellness. Here are four questions to ask yourself, especially as you prepare for travel and life as an international assignee in the coming months:
Am I up-to-date on my own healthcare?
It is critically important to follow local guidelines with regard to routine and emergency medical care. This includes not neglecting other, non COVID-19 related medical treatment. In the past year, most health facilities and doctors’ offices have made environmental and procedural changes to maximize patient safety. The availability of video and telephone medical appointments has also expanded considerably to accommodate patient needs. If you have specific concerns, it is always appropriate to contact your provider in advance.
What do my health insurance policies include, and will I need more coverage later?
Insurance policies can vary widely and change, particularly at the turn of a calendar or financial year. Take note of changes to physician, facility, and caregiver networks, and be sure to evaluate your policy’s formulary for changes to prescription coverage. If you will be relocating in the coming months, it is important to know that private plans may only be valid in your home country, or may restrict benefits available in other countries. Some plans have only regional coverage. If your employer does not already have full information on provisions for coverage, inquire at a consulate of your destination country. After evaluating what is and what will be available to you later, you may want to pursue expanded coverage if you think risks might be higher in your destination.
Do I have the generic names for the medications I take?
If you regularly take a prescription or over-the-counter medication on the advice of your doctor, you should obtain the generic names of these drugs. You may even wish to take an adequate supply with you, as a prescription readily available at home may not be easy to acquire abroad. Be aware also that some countries require special documentation to accompany large quantities of medications, and that some medications may be regulated differently. Any medications taken with you should be in the original labeled containers.
What else might I need when it’s time to travel?
A copy of your medical insurance policy that includes coverage information can be very helpful, as can medical and dental records. If you are being treated for a specific medical condition, you should have a signed and dated statement from the prescribing physician describing the issues, and identifying treatments — including medications and dosages. In addition, take written prescriptions, which may be honored by your doctor or pharmacist abroad. Now might also be a good time to tap into current and destination support groups and other networks, so that you’ll be prepared when the time to travel comes.
Written by Erin Fitzgerald, Product Manager