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If you get into a serious accident or suffer a major health problem while abroad, medical repatriation is sometimes needed. Getting into such a situation can be a confusing time. Given that it has not likely happened before, it’s completely new too, which makes it even harder to plan for. What should you expect with medical repatriation and what you should do before and afterward? Here is a rundown of what medical repatriation is exactly, as well as some suggestions on the steps you’ll need to take.
Medical Repatriation 101
Medical repatriation is often used when the injuries or medical issues will be more affordable to manage from your home country. Depending on what the medical concern is, it doesn’t always mean that you’re immobile or cannot leave of your own accord. Instead, it may connect to the affordability of ongoing medical care at home versus elsewhere.
Also, the quality of care along with what medical procedures are available is a consideration too. If the technical expertise required for an operation is found in your home country and less certain abroad, it can make good sense to be repatriated. This avoids having multiple unsuccessful operations where the foreign hospital is unable to provide the expertise required. If your health insurance company has had this issue before with other policyholders, they may suggest repatriation because it offers a better chance of a successful outcome.
Don’t Leave Anything Behind
When you are abroad, don’t leave anything behind that you cannot afford to lose. This includes multiple forms of ID, financial documents, or other items of value. Identity theft abroad happens too. If you were renting an apartment or staying in a hotel, they won’t keep the place available after the payments stop. They’ll need to remove the items left behind so that they can vacate the room and clean it before renting it out again. So, you’ll need to arrange for someone to collect your items if you’re unable to do it yourself. Don’t make a plan to return later when things are better because recovery times are unpredictable, and plans change. Get what you need to take with you before you’re in the air.
Let Friends and Family Know ASAP
Friends and family will want to know about your condition. Depending on how long you’ll be abroad for before returning, one or more of them may wish to fly out to visit you at the hospital. Also, they could be upset if they have been kept in the dark about your condition. It’s a good idea to provide enough information in your messages to anticipate most of the questions they may have. This should include how bad the condition is, how it’s affecting you, and when you’ll likely be returning.
Get Specialist Assistance When Back Home
Once you’re on home soil, look for a healthcare services provider that has people who provide various therapies, medical care, or nurse assistance. Following a serious accident, physical therapy including extensive rehab may be required. Damage to the vocal cords could result in needing speech therapy. Or after a traumatic injury to the brain, neuropsychological therapy might be needed. Ensure that the provider has the necessary complement of services to match your needs.
Medical repatriation is always a possibility when on foreign shores. Taking it one step at a time is necessary to stop it from it overwhelming you.