On a recent trip to South Korea, one of my clients who has a history of heart problems was rushed to a hospital where no one spoke English, leaving him and his wife on their own to determine if the care he was receiving was adequate or appropriate. Fortunately, things turned out okay, but he, of course, never wants to relive that nightmare.
Retirees may have more time for travel, but oftentimes health factors deter them from taking trips abroad, especially to more off-the-beaten-path places or countries where language is a barrier and good medical care is hard to find.
As a financial advisor, my clients tend to talk to me about their travel plans, which can include exotic locations and trips to remote areas to work with charitable organizations. But they have also admitted they have concerns about existing health issues, getting sick or having an accident while traveling.
The world's a big place, and unfortunately, the quality and availability of medical care abroad varies greatly from country to country. Before booking a trip, travelers should consider how they might access adequate health care in case of a medical emergency.
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Unlike in the past, a number of options are available, and financial advisors can add value to clients by educating them on the various medical services out there.
A great place to start is the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which provides a pretravel health consultation and some advice for travelers. It's worth a look.
For those planning to travel to remote or hostile locations, knowing where to access good medical care is a must. Dr. Chris Sidford, a U.S. Navy officer and board-certified emergency medicine physician, is no stranger to practicing medicine in the most challenging environments, including the Arctic Circle—where he provided emergency medical support for NATO troops during amphibious operations—and the Mojave Desert. Understanding the need for emergency medical services in a variety of environments, he founded Black Bag, which offers "white glove" immediate care guidance globally, 24/7, to individuals and families regardless of their location.
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With Black Bag, clients travel with not only their medical records, prescription drugs and/or medical devices but also—perhaps more importantly—a personalized medical plan created by Sidford's team and 24/7 access to a board-certified emergency medicine physician.
We now suggest Black Bag to our client who was rushed to the hospital in South Korea—and to the number of clients we have who travel frequently to remote areas of South America and Africa to do charity work, including manual labor, like constructing houses and water-supply systems and distributing food.
Should an emergency occur, our clients are now confident that we can suggest a service that will help to arrange for their evacuation to a more suitable facility and will oversee every step of their care.
"Health issues don't have to dampen travel plans. Medical expertise is available when and where your clients need it."
These services are available either on a per-trip basis or, for frequent travelers, on an annual basis. To be sure, they are not cheap. However, our clients say the thought of knowing that adequate health care is available is worth it.
Health issues don't have to dampen travel plans. Medical expertise is now available when and where your clients need it.