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Tips to Help Seniors Stay Safe During Vacation, Travel

Seniors have unique health needs to consider before they plan their next vacation.

Visiting grandkids or taking a cruise or a golfing trip are on the “to do” lists of many active retirees. A lot of Michigan seniors are “snowbirds” who travel to warm climates during the winter months.  Others may finally have time to travel the globe to destinations they’ve dreamed about visiting.

However, seniors have unique health needs to consider before they plan their next vacation.  At the top of the list is knowing what their health insurance coverage includes if they are treated for an emergency in another state or country.  If an individual gets the flu or breaks a bone, he or she will need to seek immediate help locally.

Below are a few questions to consider:

  • Does your health insurance cover you when traveling in the U.S. and abroad, and are there any limits to how much care is covered?
  • Do you plan to be away from home for a couple of weeks or months?  Be sure to schedule any medical treatment needed before you leave on the trip.
  • Do you need special arrangements to accommodate mobility limitations?  Or dialysis?
  • Are you traveling to a different time zone?  Remember to be mindful of time differences when taking prescription medicines.
  • Obtain a written and signed note from your doctor detailing the prescribed medicines you are taking with you. 
  • Do you have enough prescription medicine to last the entire trip?  If not, will your health plan allow you to fill them where you are planning to travel?
  • Do you need to have any vaccinations before traveling to a foreign country?
  • What if you are in a foreign country and don’t speak the language?  Will your health plan provide a translator to assist you in obtaining any medical care you may need?
  • Do you have a travel companion who can be your advocate to ensure you are getting all of your health needs met?  Have you completed the required paperwork to allow the companion to speak on your behalf about medical treatment?

Health Alliance Plan’s Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plan members have value-added emergency travel assistance if they become ill or injured while traveling 100 miles or more away from home, or in another country, free of charge.

HAP is the first health plan in Michigan to partner with Assist America of Princeton, N.J., the premier provider of global emergency services through employee benefit plans, to provide services such as personal assistance with emergency medical evacuation, lost luggage and lost document assistance, referrals to qualified doctors and hospitals, language translators and more.

Assist America does not replace HAP coverage.  Members are covered for urgent and emergency care based on their HAP member contract.

Today’s seniors are leading very active lifestyles.  Often, they have done the research on their next travel destination, but they also need to be mindful for how to handle a medical emergency away from home.  With a little advance planning, seniors, in particular, can have peace of mind knowing that they have done all the right things to protect themselves if they have a medical emergency.  And if the senior’s plan doesn’t provide the services they need, now – until December 7 - is the time to consider other companies that do.

Health Alliance Plan is a health plan with a Medicare contract.

Karen Wintringham is Vice President, Medicare Programs, Health Alliance Plan. 

For more information about HAP and Medicare, visit http://www.hap.org/medicare or call 800-971-7878.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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