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Are You Prepared for a Medical Emergency?

By Aldis Barsketis

A few years ago, a client was vacationing in a small town in Mexico when she developed acute gall bladder problems and needed emergency surgery. The local hospital lacked the facilities to perform the surgery, and she and her husband wanted to return to their home hospital in British Columbia as soon as possible.

Luckily, the couple had a medical evacuation membership. They called the plan’s member services number, which located their physician in BC and made arrangements for her to be admitted to the hospital there. She was immediately transported by ambulance to an airport and then flown that evening to BC, where she was taken by ambulance to her hospital for surgery. Total cost of the medical evacuation service today would be over $27,300 Canadian dollars.

Could you afford a travel medical emergency? With Americans traveling abroad expected to reach a four-year high in 2014 and millions of their Canadian counterparts doing the same, the odds of a travel medical emergency happening keep growing. Although some health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States—and, by the way, Medicare does not cover you when you’re abroad. In fact, according to, foreign hospitals aren’t required to file Medicare claims, and in most cases you pay 100 percent of the costs. There are exceptions, but few and far between. Ditto for Canadian provincial/territorial health card carriers.

Add to this the fact that many hospitals and doctors abroad operate on a “pay first, assist later” basis and you could find yourself in a financial quandary on top of your health issues.

I have a medical policy, a travel policy, a credit card plan; am I covered?  Not necessarily. Traditional health insurance coverage, travel policies or even many limited medevac membership programs may only take you to the nearest appropriate facility, not to your own doctor and hospital so you can avoid costly out-of-network bills.

In fact, being a member of a medical evacuation membership program pays off in more ways than just covering an air evac. In an emergency, time is always of the essence. Inclusions such as translation services can really come in handy when abroad, as well as return of dependent children, your pets, vehicle return, replacement of corrective lenses and medical devices, and so much more. While you can’t prevent an unexpected travel medical emergency, you can prepare for it. If a medical mishap should happen to you when you’re away from home, whether it’s across the globe or across the country, you can have peace of mind knowing someone is at the other end of the line ready to help you get home.

Aldis Barsketis is the owner of WeExpats Insurance Solutions in San Miguel. Join him for an information meeting to find out about Skymed Medical Evacuation membership on  Wednesday, August 27, at 10am at Longhorn Steak House, Salida a Celaya 6. RSVP to or call 435-714-7012 Vonage. Light breakfast will be served.

Skymed Medical Evacuation
Wed, Aug 27, 10am
Longhorn Steakhouse
Salida a Celaya 6

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