Here are some health care considerations to think about before hopping in a car or plane for your summer vacation:
■ Do a little research. Do a quick Internet search to learn what health care help might be available, especially if you have a medical condition.
It’s not enough to just know what’s available. Know which hospitals are in your health insurer’s provider network. Costs can pile up quickly for care outside the network.
Depending on the plan, a patient may have to pay a separate deductible. You also could pay a higher co-insurance percentage. That’s the amount of the bill left over after the deductible is met.
On top of all that, the doctor or hospital can bill patients for the balance between what they charge and what the insurer pays, something they can’t do for in-network care. All this can add up to thousands of dollars in extra expenses.
Big insurers like UnitedHealth Group Inc. or Cigna Corp. maintain national provider networks, but don’t fret if you have coverage through a small insurer. Check to see if they offer the use of a larger insurer’s network under certain conditions.
Most insurers have a smartphone app that can find in-network health care providers in a pinch. You can also try calling the phone number on your insurance card.
■ Pack smartly. Make sure your prescriptions are updated and filled. Include things like an inhaler if you have occasional bouts of asthma or Benadryl if that’s your go-to treatment for an allergy flare-up.
Bring a form with your medical history if you have an ongoing or chronic condition, allergies, or something unusual like a rare blood type. The American College of Emergency Physicians offers a medical history form at www.er101.org.
This is something you will want to keep in your wallet or purse, not in the luggage that stays in your hotel room.
■ Avoid waiting too long. Don’t let your desire to relax and have fun prevent you from acting quickly if necessary. Seek emergency care immediately if you have a history of heart problems and wake up one morning with chest pain, if you have a terrible headache that leads to blurry vision, or if you have signs of a stroke like a sudden numbness on one side of the body.
Don’t worry about finding an in-network provider if a serious emergency hits on vacation.
If your problem isn’t urgent, seek other options beside an ER. Drugstore health clinics can handle relatively minor problems like a sinus infection. Urgent care centers frequently are staffed by doctors and can offer a deeper level of care, handling some broken bones or lacerations, for example.