The first step is for students to contact their current health insurance provider to determine the extent of medical coverage it provides while they’re overseas. Coverage varies substantially among providers. If you’re covered while traveling outside of the U.S., ask the provider if there is a special number to call since most US 1-800 numbers will not work when called from outside the US. Many policies cover emergency service and you may expect to pay for the services and submit the costs to your insurer for reimbursement. Carry your card and keep an additional copy with you while you travel.

If your current provider does has minimal coverage outside the U.S., you may wish to purchase additional coverage. Note that the average cost of medical evacuation is between $10,000 and $20,000 and can run higher, so be certain that you have some sort of coverage. Also consider coverage for repatriation of remains.

There are many providers of this type of insurance. Be aware of the restrictions of each type of policy before purchasing. Macalester College cannot recommend a health insurance policy; it is up to you and your family to choose an option that best meets your health insurance needs. Note that Macalester’s Center for Study Away can advise you on options and requirements related to study away.

Bringing Medications or Filling Prescriptions Abroad
A traveler going abroad with a preexisting medical problem should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs.  Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and clearly labeled. Travelers should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics.  Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found on the country specific information for each country.

View foreign embassies and consulates

If you wear eyeglasses, take an extra pair with you.  Pack medicines and extra eyeglasses in your hand luggage so they will be available in case your checked luggage is lost.  To be extra secure, pack a backup supply of medicines and an additional pair of eyeglasses in your checked luggage.

If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, or insect bites, or other unique medical problems, consider wearing a “medical alert” bracelet.  You may also wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining required treatment should you become ill.

Filling a prescription abroad

If an American citizen becomes seriously ill or injured abroad, a U. S. consular officer can assist in locating medical services and informing family or friends. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States .  (Note, however, that payment of hospital and all expenses is the responsibility of the traveler.)

Medical Information for Americans Abroad

* Macalester College does not specifically endorse any of the products or websites listed here and is not responsible for any of the information provided by the vendors or posted on the websites.