5 tips on using your medical aid while travelling
Whether it’s at the beach, in the bushveld or a mountain getaway, nothing really beats the thrill of a December holiday. Although we wish that all our clients and readers reach and return from their destination safely and healthily, unfortunately, emergencies and other healthcare issues can arise while on holiday.
At Cornerstone Healthcare Consulting Services, we understand that having to deal with an illness or medical emergency in an unfamiliar environment with unknown hospitals can be very daunting and stressful. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to reduce stress and anxiety so that you can focus on recovering or taking care of your loved ones.
To help you get started, we have put together a quick and easy guide to help you get the most out of your medical aid while on holiday as well as some tips that will help you in the event of a medical emergency.
Check the general status of your medical aid membership
Very important: Make sure that your premiums are up to date, because if they aren’t you won’t be covered at all.
If you have recently joined a new medical scheme, it’s vital that you check whether your membership is subject to a waiting period. Waiting periods can be anything between 3 months general waiting period and, or 12 months condition specific and each membership is unique, therefore make sure that you check with your broker or medical scheme if you have a waiting period and how it will affect your cover.
Identify network hospitals along your route and close to your destination
If your medical aid benefit option requires you to make use of network hospitals or service providers, it’s vital that you identify at least four hospitals within your network before you leave on holiday. Two on your travel route and two in or near your destination. Most medical aid plans won’t restrict you to certain hospitals in a life-threatening emergency, however with planned procedures you’ll be liable for large co-payments if you use a hospital outside of the network.
Remember, even if you aren’t restricted to network hospitals, you will still end up saving if you use specialists within your medical aid’s network as they will charge you the pre-negotiated medical aid rates as opposed to private rates which tend to be much higher.
The best way to avoid in-hospital co-payments completely, is to have a Gap cover policy in place. With Gap cover, you’ll be covered for any shortfalls you may have in-hospital, co-payments and many other benefits.
Travelling outside the borders of South Africa
All major medical schemes have cover for medical emergencies outside the borders of South Africa for a certain period from the date of departure, up to a certain limit depending with the medical scheme and the selected option plan.
Before you go on your overseas holiday or neighbouring countries contact your medical scheme and request the international travel letter, which will have confirmation of cover as follows:
- Details of the benefits
- Cover limit
- What number you can call in an emergency
- How claims will be processed and what documents are required to put in a claim
The letter will also have your personal details, which you can use as proof of medical cover when you consult with a healthcare professional in or out of hospital.
Lost your medical aid membership card? No worries, use your phone
Most medical schemes have easy to use mobile apps. In addition to giving you information about your claims, your network services providers and other scheme information, most of these apps will have a digital version of your medical aid membership card. This means that even if you have lost your physical membership card, you’ll be able to access the details you need using your phone. You can also take a copy of your membership certificate with you.
First aid kits, chronic medication and emergency supplies
Make sure that you have a good quality first aid kit in your car or luggage before embarking. This could be a literal life-saver in the event of a medical emergency. Remember to check the contents of the first aid kit and replace any expired or damaged items.
If you or anyone you are traveling with takes chronic medication, make sure that you have your script filled before you leave. Not only will this ensure that you have your medication with you when you need it, but it will take away the hassle of getting your medication at an unfamiliar pharmacy elsewhere.
And lastly, make sure that you have emergency supplies in your vehicle such as water, a flashlight, mobile phone and GPS chargers and make sure that your spare tyre is inflated and in good repair.
Cornerstone Healthcare Consulting Services is wishing all our clients and readers a merry and festive holiday season, but most of all we wish that you return home safe, healthy and rested for the new year ahead. For more fun, informative and thought-provoking content, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and remember to check out the blog section of our website for past and future articles.