Guest Column

Stay covered while you travel for work

September 27, 2019
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Many health insurance companies offer different options for their members while traveling — from coverage options for doctor or urgent care visits to additional travel assistance and virtual care services. Know what choices are available to you when you’re on the road for work.

Summer vacations are sadly behind us and end-of-year business goals are quickly approaching, meaning business travelers are hitting the road. With all of the time it takes to book the right flight and hotel, pack the appropriate attire and mentally prepare for back-to-back meetings, planning should also include knowing how to handle a medical emergency while you’re away.

Consult these components of your health insurance to ensure that your travel checklist is complete.

Check your travel coverage

Your health insurance plan may offer travel services you may not even know about. At Priority Health, members have 24/7 access to Assist America at no extra cost. It’s available whenever members are more than 100 miles from home or in another country. Coverage includes:

  • Medical emergency services: Access to quality medical care including medical referrals, emergency medical evacuation, prescription assistance and more.

  • Travel emergency services: Help with lost luggage or documents, legal and interpreter referrals and care for minor children and pets when experiencing a travel emergency. Plus, pre-trip planning services including visa and immunization requirements, security and natural disaster alerts and more.

Multilingual, trained and emergency-dispatch certified assistance coordinators are available to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with one-touch access through the free app.

Log in and stay healthy

In addition to emergency travel services, you should know your options for smaller, non-life-threatening illnesses. Sickness can happen, especially when you’re sleep-deprived, jet-lagged and rushing from meeting to meeting while on a business trip. Not being near a doctor can complicate things further.

Being prepared in these situations can save you money and help get you back to business faster. When you need care for a non-life-threatening medical issue, an ER or urgent care visit can be a pricey and time-consuming option. A virtual visit is the perfect alternative for conditions like fever, sore throats, allergies or minor sprains.

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a virtual visit connects you with a board-certified doctor at the tip of your fingers. Often, they’re available through your doctor or insurance plan. Priority Health provides access to virtual care through the Priority Health app or as a standalone application on a smartphone or tablet.

Virtual visits also are cost-effective, starting around $45 or less depending on your plan coverage, whereas a trip to the ER can cost hundreds. So, don’t forget to charge your device between meetings in case you need access to virtual care.

Pack smart

Free time during a business trip can be scarce. Nobody wants to spend it running to a nearby pharmacy or convenience store for an over-the-counter medication or first aid supply. Avoid the chaos and pack the medications and supplies you tend to use most during the time of travel. If you’re currently taking a prescription medication, make sure you have enough to get you through your trip. And if you’re flying and planning to pack your prescriptions in a carry-on, keep them in an easily accessible location in case a TSA agent needs to examine them. A clear plastic bag works great.

You should also include basic first aid supplies like a thermometer, bandages, ibuprofen or aspirin. Having these items on hand can save you money and keep you from scrambling if you need relief during your travels. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful list to help you pack smart for any trip.

Wherever your work plans take you, remember that planning ahead means you can maximize the little free time you have on your business trip — even if you have some unexpected health challenges along the way.

Brian McLane has more than 15 years of experience in health care. As the senior director of product solutions at Priority Health, he is responsible for designing and managing health care products to meet the needs of employers and employees.

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