About the last thing business travelers think to plan for is coverage by their health maintenance organization (HMO) should they require emergency medical care on the road. Yet experts warn this is just as essential as remembering to pack your toothbrush.
While your HMO prescribes how to obtain health care at home, when traveling, "you don't know much about the reputation of hospitals," says Dr. Gregory Henry, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Dallas. "To some extent, you're at the mercy of what's available as to where you're going to get health care."
But take heart: There are ways to ensure proper health coverage when away. For starters, call your HMO to see if you have a preferred provider in the area where you're traveling, says Henry. Also, ask your HMO about the steps required for emergency care while traveling; your insurer may waive copays or certain provisions.
Should you happen to need medical care, don't forget to bring your HMO card to the hospital (a colleague or family member should also be notified where you keep the information beforehand). Once there, Henry recommends asking a colleague, family member or friend to notify your HMO. Your first priority is to receive proper medical care, not work out the fine details with your insurer. It's also a good idea to get a copy of the medical chart and any bills in case you need the documentation later when working out the bill.