Planning to go RTW: need to see doctors for medical issues on the way
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Mar 4, 2012 5:30 PM Last Post By: taranaki_chick
Feb 20, 2012 6:43 PM
Planning to go RTW: need to see doctors for medical issues on the wayHeya,
My husband and I are planning a RTW trip for a few years down the road but after much talk, have decided on it.
The one thing that has been holding me back is I have to take a few medications three times a day. It's not optional. I've been on it for most of my life. I'm actually in great health, but have to have blood tests to monitor this every few months, and also if I were to miss a dose, I'd be in trouble (otherwise, again, I'm 100% fine and love to travel).
So I'd written off my lifelong dream to travel RTW because of this, thinking I was stuck near my doctor.
I wonder if it's possible to just see doctors every few months along the way for blood tests and medication refills?
I presume some people who travel RTW must have conditions that need occasional monitoring or medication and prescription refills. Mine would be akin to being insulin-dependent diabetic. I'm not that, but I don't want to talk about the specifics.
Now my husband says no, we shouldn't have to have problems due to this. It's not like we haven't traveled, and it's not hard to get my meds in most major cities. Also, we always divide my medication so that he carries half "in case," or else leave some in the hotel safe.
Any ideas here? Obviously, some sort of International health insurance, right?
My doctor won't give me more than two months supply because of his liability here in the U.S. -- he wants blood tests before refilling at that point.
What do you say, friends? How do folks with controlled medical issues go RTW. I'm only in my 30's.
Thanks! I haven't really seen this addressed much. My apologies if it's in the FAQ or something silly. Mainly, I just see that people who need meds should get a year fill. But I cannot. And I've not heard blood tests discussed at all.
Feb 21, 2012 7:31 AM
1Hi there! It all depends on where you want to go. Sorry I don't have a comparable issue, but I have gotten healthcare on the road, and I see that no one has replied yet. It's pretty easy to make sure you're in a country with reliable healthcare every few months. Medical care in Thailand is excellent - I just had my teeth done and a bad ankle sprain examined for under $80, all at institutions that have grandiose fountains and abstract art for furniture.
In my experience (Mexico, several South American countries, SE Asia, Philippines...) many 'developing' countries still trust people to be responsible enough to care for themselves. You can actually call any hospital in Thailand and ask them a bunch of questions. They speak English quite well and deal with tons of foreign travelers. Here's the place (or should I say palace?) where I had my ankle checked: http://www.bumrungrad.com/hospital-in-bangkok phone: Telephone: +662 667 1000
You can also email them with specifics about your concerns, availability of your meds, what kind of supply you could get, blood test info, etc.
Will your meds be affected when/if you get traveler's tummy? It's realistic to envision that you could be somewhere without access to good medical care and end up vomiting or losing everything out the other end. Happens to the best of us. :) Not saying it should stop you, but that scenario might affect you differently?
Re: insurance - World Nomads (you're American, right?) is your best bet. They're the most expensive, but the most comprehensive. The cheapies all have crazy little loopholes and I'm sure half of them would not deal with a "pre-existing condition." Plus Nomads lets you have a policy for a long time, while many others aren't valid beyond a month or so.
Feb 21, 2012 9:26 AM
2I don't think it can't be handled with some foresight. As backpackblogger says, good doctors and medication aren't hard to find in most areas of the world.
Two thoughts do come to mind. In seeing a doctor in another country I would suspect that a letter from your home physician would help you get a prescription from another doctor a little easier.
Second, when you write, "Any ideas here? Obviously, some sort of International health insurance, right?", I hope you are not implying that you think insurance would pay for the necessary visits to a doctor to get a prescription or pay for the medications. I can't see any travel insurance provider agreeing to pay for that. You will have to pay from your own pocket.
Unlike backpackblogger, I don't think, 'half of them' would not cover pre-existing conditions, I think none of them would. World Nomads are generally accepted here on the TT as the insurance provider against whom all other policies are compared. I would e-mail them with specifics and ask what they would or would not cover in regards to your condition.
Feb 21, 2012 9:43 AM
Feb 21, 2012 5:35 PM
Feb 23, 2012 7:20 PM
5Totally helpful information from y'all! Thanks. Nah, wasn't hoping the insurance would pay for it, although thought they might be able to help cover any emergencies if they arose and for what the lost poster said, "had health problems, long under control and just being managed now." Thanks for the advice on WorldNomads (yes, American). I will check into what they DO cover, if anything. Neither the medication I take or the blood work is actually too expensive. My only concern is finding myself stranded somewhere without medication, like if it were lost somehow or stolen or whatever.
It sounds like the thing to do is just plan to be in a big city every few months, and to see if I can make arrangements in advance to some degree with my doctor and these doctors. Totally possible.
I'd never thought about the upset stomach problem. Ugh. Yes, that can definitely impact things if it lasts long. Vomiting especially. The rest, nah... ;)
And hey, backpackblogger, thank you for your really detailed, awesome reply! I've never had to seek care while overseas so no experience with this.
Also, thanks for letting me know about the "Health" forum. Why didn't I see that?
Feb 25, 2012 1:20 AM
6Try to do some research on the medical facilities in the countries you are visiting and whether the medication you need is available in each country. A friend of mine was only able to get 2 months supply of her medication (an anti-psycotic I believe) before leaving the UK but was able to get a new supply at a good hospital in Bangkok. She said the doctor she saw in Bangkok was better than her doctor in the UK.
Try to keep your medication in several different places including where you keep your most important things (passport etc) to try to avoid the situation where you end up without medication. Some medication that is usually prescription is easy to buy in pharmacies in many countries (but watch out for fake drugs) but others you will need to see a doctor or might not be available in a certain country.
Mar 4, 2012 12:15 PM
7You may want to join IAMAT - International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers - membership is free although they will hit you up for a donation at some point - but they will provide you with the name(s) of several English-speaking doctors in almost every city/country you can think of.
Since your doctor won't give you a prescription beyond a certain point, I would have him write out a simple explanation of your situation, the meds that have been prescribed, the blood tests he would like to see and then yes, that he would okay more prescriptions based on those tests - this is a heads up and okay to any doctors seeing you - make sure he includes his phone number and (if willing) his email.
Lastly, I don't know where in the States you are, but we were lucky enough here in Toronto to find this absolutely amazing travel doctor who really knows his stuff. Not just the basics but all the conditions under which various things should/shouldn't be taken, vaccines are/are not needed, rather than going by the general recommendations. He's travelled extensively with his kids, written several books on travel medicine, etc, run free vaccination clinics in Africa, etc.
Find someone like that if you can. Not just your run of the mill travel doctor but someone who really knows what they're doing and who totally supports you going. Work with them, follow their advice, have an email or a phone number for them for when you're overseas. Our travel doctor gave us his personal email and told us to contact him for any concerns we had while overseas.
Doing a trip like this with pre-existing conditions you need a good support system in place.
World Nomads is definitely the best for the kind of trip you're doing but yes, they will not cover pre-existing conditions. It would not hurt to contact them before you go though and find out what they will cover.
Mar 4, 2012 5:30 PM
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