Study abroad programs are eye-opening experiences helping students build confidence, connect with other students from different countries, and immerse themselves in a new culture. While many students have health insurance through their parents or the university, they may not always have access to critical services in the event of a life-threatening emergency abroad.

What To Know Before Studying Abroad

Prior to sending your child abroad, take a comprehensive look at your health insurance plan. Often medical insurance plans only cover children up to a certain amount of time when outside of the country. Make sure your child is aware of the policy requirements, such as reimbursements and deductibles. Also make sure your child has access to cash, as many international health care facilities require cash payment. 

It’s also important to note medical care in other countries is often completely different than in the U.S., so be sure to thoroughly research options before the program starts. 

Make copies of important travel documents, such as driver’s license, passports and health insurance cards. Parents should have a copy at home and students should have a set of copies with them as well.  

Also consider a medical evacuation membership. It’s important to note that medical evacuation memberships are not the same as travel insurance and most travel insurance policies do not include costs for medical bills.

Questions to Ask the Study Abroad Program Provider

The more information you receive prior to the trip, the easier it will be knowing your child is in a safe setting. Whether talking to the international student office, off-campus program advisor, or on-campus study abroad office, you should be asking questions to ensure your child’s safety while studying abroad.

  • What is the specific emergency response plan, if there is one?
  • Are there any precautions that will be covered at orientation?
  • Should we be concerned with safety in the area my son/daughter is choosing to stay?
  • How does communication function between departments at the program?

Many schools, like Tulane University and Middlebury College, have well-defined study abroad programs that include medical evacuation services, like Global Rescue. 

When Would Medical Evacuation Services Be Necessary?

Illness Abroad
A life-threatening sickness can happen to anyone at any time. Food poisoning and food-borne illnesses also happen frequently abroad which can lead to a hospital visit. High school student Lily Goodman became violently ill during a semester in China and her parents contacted Global Rescue for medical advisory services and translation help.

Dangerous Excursions
During break, many students spend time exploring other countries and participating in a series of adrenaline pumping excursions. Windsurfing, bungee jumping, base jumping, sky diving and snorkeling are just a few of the exciting opportunities offered to students studying abroad.

Some of these thrilling activities are high risk and should be done with caution. If injury does occur, medical evacuation services may be necessary, especially if a student is in a remote location and needs immediate medical attention.

Climbing Accidents
Mountain climbing is another activity perfect for adventure-seekers, but this also comes with dangers. Beginners and experts can become injured at any point, whether you’re on the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland or the tropical terrain of Peru. From altitude sickness to falls, medical evacuation services can prove lifesaving in serious situations.

Medical Evacuation Membership

By providing your child with a medical evacuation membership when studying abroad, you’re also providing peace of mind. Medical evacuation services provide access to safely transporting your son or daughter to a facility where they can receive lifesaving care, even from remote areas. Students can feel at ease engaging in exciting new activities and fulfilled investing in a new adventure knowing they have access to potentially lifesaving services.

In addition, medical evacuation memberships, like Global Rescue, provide a host of other services, including: 

  • Travel assistance. Whether it’s a language barrier during an emergency or a lost passport, Global Rescue travel assistance can help with unexpected issues. 
  • Medical and security advisory services. Our operations centers are staffed by experienced nurses, paramedics and military special operations veterans. Tenn Hildebrand, studying abroad during a gap year, was bitten by a wild dog shortly after he arrived in India. Global Rescue provided translation services, reviewed medical records, and “advised him on how to obtain the medication he needed and how to seek assistance administering immediate treatment,” says Beth Hildebrand, Tenn’s mother. “Big thanks to Global Rescue and especially to the paramedic who was kind, compassionate and professional.”
  • Field rescue. We will send help if you are unable to get to a hospital and in urgent need of care. With no distance requirement, field rescue services are available whether you’re close to home or on the other side of the world. 
  • Hospital transport. If you do have to be hospitalized and you’re far from home, we have the proven capability to transport our members back to their home hospital of choice.  
  • In-house expertise. Speak to an in-house Global Rescue expert on the first call. Personalized communications, recommendations and responses continue until your emergency is resolved. 
  • Destination reports and alerts. Destination reports for 215 countries and principalities worldwide include entry requirements and required immunizations. Keep up to date on health and security events worldwide with real-time alerts and recommendations.