Preparing for Foreign Vacation Medical Emergencies - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Preparing for Foreign Vacation Medical Emergencies

Posted: Updated:

If you have plans to travel overseas in the near future make sure you are prepared to deal with any medical emergencies while abroad.   You may not be covered by your American health insurance.  Details on how to prepare in this News 13 Problem Solver report.

Accidents  can happen anywhere and anytime.  It happened to one Tampa area couple while on a foreign cruise.

Dodge and Jill Melkonian recently received a free cruise through Turkey as a consolation from Royal Caribbean after problems on a previous cruise.  They went on the Azamara Cruiseline owned by Royal Caribbean.  Then, bad luck struck again.  89-year-old Dodge fell and broke his hip.  His wife said the ship had to leave them in Bartin, Turkey and treatment at a non-English speaking hospital.  Mrs. Melkonian says the hospital was not equipped for surgery.  They had bought insurance through the cruise line but are now facing delays with help. 

The U.S. Embassy has been  involved also Senator Bill Nelson.  According to Senator Nelson, "Royal Caribbean has a responsibility to take care of their passengers…even when they have to put them into a foreign hospital."  A truly bad experience again for the Melkonians.

Without any travel coverage, overseas accidents can be very expensive.  So, before you go on your foreign vacation by sea or air, make sure you at least have thought about the unexpected medical emergency.

One Panama City travel agent says don't assume anything about your American  insurance policy.   Allen Sears with Nervig Travel Service tells News 13, "Most peoples' health insurance does not cover them overseas.  Medicare does not cover…very few do and a lot of people don't know that."

Sears says buying insurance not connected to a cruise line may be a better option.  He also says, "If you buy a good travel insurance policy…it is also going to coordinate with doctors over there so, you are not just on your own where you will get reimbursed later.  So, they actually will find doctors for you...hospitals.  They will monitor your care they will fly you to another hospital if they need to they will fly you back to the states if they need to."

But, Sears says the reality is some travelers are not interested in spending more money outside of their trip.  Sears says, "They have spent all this money and you asked for just a little bit more money and they want to balk at it...they just don't want to think about it."

Sears tells us some travelers'  insurance coverage can begin under 50-dollars...depending on the policy you want.

This afternoon, News 13 received an update from Senator Bill Nelson's office in Washington.  At the prodding of Senator Nelson, the cruise line has agreed to cover all out of pocket medical expenses the Melkonians have incurred not covered by insurance.  Royal Caribbean is arranging their travel back to the U.S.