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How to Safely Fly When Pregnant or With An Infant

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2018

Being pregnant (and bringing a life into the world) necessitates a few lifestyle changes — to put it lightly. You’ll be faced with a slew of doctor’s appointments, updated dietary advisements, and unsolicited advice from the qualified and unqualified alike.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to totally put your own life on hold. You’ll still want to visit relatives or keep vacation plans you made before deciding to welcome a new family member. There’s no reason you can’t travel while pregnant or with your newborn. There’s just a few things to keep in mind when making your plans.

When Is It Safe to Fly?

Before planning a trip, it’s important to make sure you can actually fly when you want to. The restrictions are different for everyone and may vary depending on your pregnancy or child, your destination, and the airline you fly with.

Always consult with your doctor before planning any travel while pregnant. This is an especially important step with air travel. With most healthy pregnancies, it’s considered safe to fly through week 36, though some doctors recommend refraining after week 30. If you plan to travel during your ninth month, most airlines will require a note from your doctor that releases you to fly.

New babies are cleared for flight much earlier than you’d expect — without any complications, most babies are fit to fly within two days of being born. That doesn’t mean Mom is ready to tackle the task, though! If you’re facing flying with an infant, know that most airlines don’t allow infants under two weeks old on the flight. You may also need to wait longer to travel internationally with young children depending on the vaccine requirements of your destination.

Planning Your Trip

As if scheduling vacations wasn’t hectic enough, the addition of pregnancy or a new baby can make the whole thing more complicated. You’ll have additional regulations to follow, new items to pack, and extra paperwork to contend with. With a little pre-planning, though, you can make sure you’re prepared for every scenario.

Booking Your Trip

If you have the luxury of planning your travel around your pregnancy, aim for trips during your second trimester. This way, you’re hopefully past most of the nausea of the first trimester, your risk of miscarriage is significantly lower, and you haven’t reached the more uncomfortable phases of the third trimester yet. Travel is still feasible in the first and third trimester; it just stands to be a lot less comfortable.

Infants under two years do not need their own seat; you can carry your child on your lap for the duration of the flight, but know that you’ll likely need to provide a birth certificate to the airline. If you’re flying internationally, all passengers must have a passports, no matter how little the little ones are.

Small details will play a big part in your comfort on travel days, such as booking aisle seats when possible or asking for preboarding. Many airlines will offer perks to pregnant women or families with small children in order to make the flight as smooth as possible for all passengers involved.

Before Leaving

Beyond normal packing, traveling while pregnant or with an infant requires a few extra steps. Before you travel, you should consult with your physician to ensure you’re healthy enough, as well as to take care of any vaccinations or special instructions regarding your destination. For instance, children and pregnant women are more susceptible to waterborne illnesses and may need to take extra precautions.

If you’re traveling while pregnant, ask your doctor to provide you with a full copy of your prenatal chart, as well as any other relevant medical documents. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, you’ll want to ask for a referral to a provider for any interim care or in the case of an emergency. Make sure to pack physical copies of this information in your carry on or personal bag in the event that your electronics aren’t charged or you’re not capable of relaying the information.

If you’re traveling internationally, consider purchasing travel insurance, as standard health insurance may not cover care received in a foreign country. If you’re concerned about experiencing pregnancy complications abroad, make sure you know where the embassy is located to ensure that you have access to emergency medical transport.

Day of Travel

Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Some doctors advise skipping the body scan when pregnant, which means you’re in for a time-consuming alternative, generally pat down. If you have young children with you, you’ll have to keep track of multiple boarding passes and possibly extra bags.

Make sure to dress comfortably and schedule breaks if applicable. Taking a walk during a layover may be the saving grace for your second flight. Pack water and healthy snacks — staying hydrated and maintaining regular blood sugar will keep stress at bay. For newborns, packing a bottle to feed during ascent or descent can help with ear pain and pressure.

When to Seek Alternative Travel

Unfortunately, not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes, pregnancies aren’t textbook, but you still need to travel for one reason or another. Other times, babies may decided they’re ready to arrive early and put a wrench in your schedule. It’s important to have a contingency plan in place before traveling, and understanding alternative medical transportation can put your mind at ease.

High Risk Pregnancy

If you’re experiencing preeclampsia, anemia, or gestational diabetes with your pregnancy, flying may pose additional risks to your health. Your doctor should always be the final word on whether or not travel is advised, but if you’re concerned about flying commercially, there are other options available. For women who have been relegated to bed rest, require more space, or may be traveling with a newborn soon after delivery, the additional space offered by a commercial stretcher booking offers both space and privacy to make the flight more comfortable.

Emergent Labor

For unexpected labor cases, arranging transport home after an early delivery can be overwhelming. You may be dealing with a language barrier as well as medical bills in a foreign country on top of welcoming the newest member of your family, depending on where you were traveling. If your child won’t be old enough to fly commercially by the time your flight comes around, you’ll need to consider alternative travel plans. Private air transport can mean getting your new family home as soon as possible while trusting that you’ll be taken care of the whole way.

Neonatal Care

Infants that are traveling with a unique medical condition or to receive medical care may be unable to fly commercially. Traditionally, planes are not equipped with the personnel or equipment to cope with a complicated medical emergency. Flight attendants are trained with basic first aid and planes do have some medical supplies on board, but if you’re traveling with a newborn who has a serious medical condition or was born abroad prematurely, it may benefit your child to consider neonatal medical transport.

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Does Health Insurance Cover My Air Ambulance Flight?

Posted on Thu, Mar 01, 2018

The benefits and coverage of insurance for medical flight services remains one of the most frequently asked questions of providers. Insurance often can seem complicated, full of rules and regulations that may not always feel like they put the interests of the insured first. When it comes time to schedule air ambulance services, knowing whether your insurance will cover your flight (and what may actually be covered) is crucial.

You do have the right to choose a private provider over scheduling services provided by the hospital, and many insurance plans cover medically necessary emergency transport. Others also cover non-emergency travel for necessary medical purposes. Figuring out what your insurance will cover is the first step towards understanding the costs and benefits associated with medical flight services.

Insurance Rules for Medical Flight Services in the United States

Perhaps the most important rule regarding air ambulance care in the United States is that the travel must be deemed medically necessary by a doctor or other licensed care provider. This eliminates the insurance company’s need to cover vacation or personal travel for nonmedical purposes.

Doctors often need to clear medical flight services with the insurance provider prior to scheduling transport. They may also be required to confirm that ground services are not an option for medical reasons. This determination may later be reviewed by some insurance companies or even require separate specialist approval prior to liftoff.

In-Network Versus Out-of-Network Air Ambulance Services

Once a doctor has decided on the need for emergency care, it falls to you and your provider to determine if that care is considered “in network” for transport services. Many insurance plans cover in-network and out-of-network providers at different rates, ranging from as much as 100 percent to as little as 15 percent or no coverage at all.

Asking your healthcare provider to confirm network status at the time of approval is a great way to get the most of your benefits. The company you choose to schedule with can often provide this information as part of a comprehensive quote prior to locking in your travel plans.

What Costs Are Covered by Medical Insurance?

Medical insurance may cover many different portions of the cost of an air ambulance. Transport often includes a liftoff charge, which is likely covered at one percentage, and a per-mile fee for travel, which may have a different copay or coinsurance rate. For in-network providers, coinsurance typically ranges from 25 to 75 percent of the costs of these travel provisions.

This means you’ll pay only a part of the total cost with your insurance provider picking up the rest.  All ground transport to the aircraft and other arrangements are covered at the standard rates per the insurance policy. Out-of-network coverage may result in coinsurance payments of 50 to 100 percent, based on the provisions of the insurance plan.

Costs for International Air Ambulance Services

International air ambulance services are particularly tricky to negotiate when it comes to insurance. Many domestic-only services, like Medicare and Medicaid, will not assist with services outside of the United States. Private insurance providers may provide this type of coverage at a premium, but the most common form of international medical flight coverage comes with travel insurance.

The United States Department of State maintains a list of insurance providers for overseas coverage. If your credit card includes international travel insurance, or if you’ve purchased it from a private provider, check to see exactly what is covered. Often these coverages include a set total removed from the cost of liftoff, transport and any associated fees instead of a copay or coinsurance.

Getting a Quote for Air Ambulance Travel

The best way to get an estimate of your total air ambulance travel costs is to request a quote from a trusted provider, like AMR Air Ambulance. These quotes take into account your available insurance coverages as well as any additional factors, such as distances and border crossing fees, to give you an idea of what you may spend for top-notch care and transport. Medical emergencies and transport for surgeries are very stressful events, but scheduling your medical travel should provide a bit of relief and peace of mind as you are moving towards health and wellness.

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Everything You Need to Know About Traveling For a Hip Replacement

Posted on Thu, Jan 18, 2018

It is common for a person’s hip joint to break down through normal wear and tear. Other conditions, such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and bone tumors can contribute significantly to the weakening of the hip joint. While doctors typically recommend less invasive forms of treatment to begin with, such as lifestyle changes or mobility aids, modern medicine has developed surgical techniques for treating damaged hip joints that require medical intervention.

The most popular procedure, known as a hip replacement, thankfully does not involve replacing the entire hip. Instead, it is a relatively noninvasive operation during which a surgeon will make an incision near the damaged joint and, using fine motor coordination and technique, carve out the damaged section before replacing it with a fully functional, artificial part.

However, like many surgical procedures, hip replacements can be quite expensive and require a period of low activity from patients during recovery. These factors have prompted many who are considering a hip replacement to look abroad for medical treatment. These medical tourists travel thousands of miles, sometimes overseas, to find the highest quality care at the lowest price. If this sounds like you or someone that you know, here is everything that you need to know about traveling for a hip replacement.

Find a Reputable Surgeon

Thanks to the rise of medical tourism, many highly skilled surgeons are setting up shop in popular destinations such as Mexico, India, and Thailand. However, prospective patients should still be wary of second rate physicians offering seemingly good deals on medical care. Although the medical tourist industry self-regulates very well, many countries popular among healthcare travelers don’t have strong, reliable regulations of their own.

To avoid a scam, make sure to read about patient experiences for the surgeons that you are considering. Legitimate doctors will likely have partnered with local hospitals or built up reputations of their own back in the United States. It’s never a bad idea to consult with your general practitioner on your choice of surgeons and hear their thoughts.

Make Travel Plans Before You Leave

After you finish surgery you will probably want nothing more than to lie down and rest. This is a good thing and taking it easy will help your body heal, but it also means that you must take care of all logistics and planning before you depart. The two most important things to plan out are lodging and travel.

If you plan on taking a recovery vacation in your destination of choice, as many medical tourists do, you case travel apps like AirBnB to secure a place for rest and recovery. If you plan on returning home shortly after your surgery, it is advisable to travel via air ambulance. Traveling after surgery without appropriate medical support can leave you vulnerable to dangerous complications such as blood clots.

You should also consider how you plan on traveling to your destination. Longs flights can be difficult and uncomfortable for those with hip trouble. If you cannot find a friend or family member who will help you travel, a medical escort can see to all of your needs. Medical escorts can also be very helpful if you have unrelated conditions that make travel difficult.

Talk to Your Physician About a Pre-Surgery Workup

Virtually any surgical procedure will put some amount of stress on your body. This is why it is important to speak with your general practitioner about your plans for surgery and travel before finalizing the details. Be sure to ask your physician if it is appropriate for you to travel and, if so, what precautions you should take. Additionally, confirm that a hip replacement is the ideal path to treat your symptoms and that you are healthy and prepared to undergo surgery.

Traveling for a hip replacement is a great way to feel better and save money. If you decide to fly for surgery, make sure you do so responsibly by following the guidelines presented here. Good luck on your treatment and recovery!

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Five Tips for Planning an Air Ambulance Flight

Posted on Thu, Dec 21, 2017

If you’re traveling for medical tourism, or your local healthcare providers aren’t prepared to offer the speciality care that you’re seeking, then you’ve probably thought about traveling via air ambulance to make your journey as safe and comfortable as possible.

Planning an air ambulance flight can seem daunting. However, a reliable air ambulance provider will help you through each step of the process. In order to help your provider supply you with the best care possible and ensure your own peace of mind, here are some tips for planning an air ambulance flight.

Identify Your Destination

Whether you’re shopping around for the best prices on treatment or you seek specialized care, it’s important to find the best destination to offer you the care you’re after. Air ambulances capable of international travel mean that patients are no longer restricted to limited regional healthcare. Speak with medical professionals about where the best care is available and read patient experiences online in order to find the best destination for you.

Research Air Ambulance Providers

The air ambulance you choose to fly with is almost as important as the doctor you choose to receive care from. Here are some questions to ask before committing to a particular air ambulance:

  • Is the company accredited? A reliable air ambulance company will be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS), which regulates and oversees medical transport providers.

  • Does the company have the aircraft I need? Depending on the distance that you plan on traveling, different types of aircraft will be appropriate. A good air ambulance provider should have a wide variety of aircraft to match a patient’s needs.

  • What level of clinicians and providers will travel with the patient? AMR Air Ambulance provides a critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist on every flight. More specialized providers may travel with the patient in certain cases.

Prepare Important Documents

As a patient, it is critical that you provide your chosen air ambulance service with all the relevant medical information. Without this information, your air ambulance will not be able to give you the best care possible.

Beyond medical documents, it’s important to check that your passport is current and to apply for any required foreign visas well in advance. Assembling these documents well in advance and keeping them with you at all times will ensure that your air ambulance experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Pack Appropriately

Air ambulances have to carry lots of medical equipment in order to monitor a patient’s condition and respond to any medical emergency that might come up. This means that there is limited room for luggage, so it’s important to pack the essentials as efficiently as possible.

Besides the documents previously mentioned, you’ll also want to pack appropriate clothing for the medical care that you’re going to receive as well as your favorite snacks, books and other entertainment. Regarding clothing, many healthcare providers will indicate what sort of clothing the patient should bring. Typically, loose-fitting clothes that allow the body to breath and can be taken off without irritating an incision site are recommended for surgery. Regarding snacks and entertainment, even if you’re just traveling in North America, your destination probably won’t carry the same products that you’re used to back home, so it’s important to stock up.

Arrange Ground Transportation

An air ambulance can only take you from one airport to another. It’s important to find qualified ground transport to take you to and from the terminal. Often times your air ambulance provider will arrange this transportation for you, but it’s important to speak with them beforehand so that you receive the most seamless care possible.

Flying by air ambulance can seem like a daunting undertaking at first, but with proper planning, your trip can be totally free of stress.

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Do You Really Need Medical Travel Insurance?

Posted on Fri, Dec 08, 2017

This February, a 74 year-old woman from British Columbia was in a tragic car accident while on vacation in California. After her vehicle was struck, she was rushed to the hospital. During her time there she racked up 400 pages worth of medical bills, adding up to more than $500,000. Like many who travel, she was insured in her home country, and would have paid a fraction of that cost had she been injured there. However, very few basic health insurance plans will cover the cost of treatment abroad. This prompts many to ask the question: do I need medical travel insurance?

What is Medical Travel Insurance?

In the United States, conventional health insurance supports the medical costs that we incur in our daily lives and helps us cope with the high cost of emergency treatment if we become seriously injured. The National Institute of Health estimates that a single visit to the emergency room alone costs an average of $1,233. Keep in mind this number is an average, so it reflects the number of emergency room cases that are quick fixes. The cost is much higher for more severe health problems.

While domestic health insurance can help with the cost of treatment at home, things become much stickier abroad. One common myth about seeing a doctor in a foreign country is that the country’s universal healthcare will pay for your visit. Even in countries with robust, government-sponsored healthcare programs, this is simply untrue. As the CDC notes, no foreign government is going to cover the cost of your medical treatment while you are a guest in their country.

This is where medical travel insurance is valuable. A medical travel insurance plan will help to alleviate the cost of medical treatment abroad. As with domestic health insurance, there are a wide variety of plans available to cover a range of medical needs abroad. Unlike with domestic insurance, however, someone looking to purchase medical travel insurance may find themselves picking particular countries in which the plan will apply.

Who Needs Medical Travel Insurance?

So do you need medical travel insurance? It depends. Similar to the domestic insurance market, the reason for having a variety of plan options available is that no one plan will cover every person’s needs; different people have different things to gain or lose from a medical travel insurance plan. Here are some groups of people with more to gain:

  • Adventure Tourists: Adventure tourism is on the rise as young people start to make their way into career paths that provide sufficient income and time off to support incredibly active vacations. Thanks to safety advancements in extreme sports, and the advent of air ambulances, extreme sports are no longer as dangerous as they once were. Nonetheless, according to a 2013 report compiled by the EU, over six million people are treated for sporting-related injuries each year. The message is clear: medical travel insurance can be crucial for adventure tourists.

  • Frequent Fliers: Not many Americans travel overseas for business, but those who do can often spend a lot of time out of the country with clients. When you start to spend more time abroad than in your home country, your domestic health insurance plan starts to lose its value. Medical travel insurance can be a better investment than domestic health insurance for these regular travelers.

  • Medical Tourists: As healthcare costs in America rise, medical tourism is beginning to catch on. By traveling to countries where medical standards are high (but costs remain low), many such tourists are able to save big on otherwise costly treatments. A carefully crafted travel insurance plan could help to lower these costs even further, while providing peace of mind during the ensuing recovery vacation.

Medical travel insurance isn’t for everyone, but for those who could incur high charges for medical treatment abroad, they can be indispensable.

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