How to Always be Prepared For an Emergency Situation Abroad

No one wants to need medical help away from home, but knowing how to make smart decisions in an SOS situation and advocate for yourself can save time, money, stress—and maybe even your life.

Jun 7, 2020


  • No single source lists legit hospitals in every country, but U.S. and European embassy websites are good references. Try Patients Beyond Borders, a medical-tourism consultancy that works with health departments around the world to keep a list of facilities that meet standards of care.
  • In general, Becker recommends sticking with large private hospitals: “government hospitals in developing countries can have limited resources.” A few solid options are Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, managing Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej and others across Thailand; Apollo Hospitals, throughout India; and Makati Medical Center in Manila, with a network of affiliates in the Philippines.
  • Confirm what services are not covered abroad by your regular health insurance. Save findings in a note on your phone.


  • If you need surgery, some hospitals will make you pay in advance because they don’t have the supplies on hand, Becker says. It’s a good idea to pay off the card before your trip.


  • Call your home doc ASAP to consult on the best course of care. Alternately, many travel-insurance companies have 24/7 assistance lines you can call for help and guidance.


  • If you’re headed to a place with limited care options, invest in medical-evacuation insurance. “Make sure your plan includes transportation home, not just to the closest appropriate facility,” Becker says. VIP Jets ( is a private charter service that does medevacs from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, southern China, India, Laos and Vietnam to hospitals in Bangkok or Singapore. — K.C. and J.L.S.J.

Before travel, check exactly what your insurance covers or reimburses away from home.

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