Getting access to medical services is one of the most challenging aspects of traveling. It doesn’t help that the healthcare system is a headache-inducing maze to navigate, but when you are constantly on the move, the challenges become even more complex and problematic. To help with the struggle of managing doctor visits while traveling, we’ve provided you with some simple solutions to this stress-generating predicament.
These clinics operate out of retail stores such as Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy. You can pay out of pocket at these locations and they can treat a range of primary ailments, like pink eye, strep throat, sinus infections, and urinary tract infections. While retail clinics aren’t suitable for on-going health care, they can be a great source for accessible medical services when you need it on the road.
“Free” Clinics & Urgent Care Centers
You can find health clinics and urgent care centers springing up in various locations across the United States. While these centers are most heavily concentrated in urban cities and low-funded areas, they are still widely available and relatively accessible. You may have to drive a couple of hours to find the closest one near you, but the cost of these visits will be comparable, and sometimes even cheaper, than the cost of an appointment through your primary care provider. These clinics provide more comprehensive services than the retail clinics mentioned above, and they also operate under a no-appointment model, so they are very conducive to the traveling lifestyle.
When you shop around for an insurance provider, look into point-of-service plans. These plans blend the structure of HMO plans with the flexibility of PPO plans, so they are one of the most nomad-friendly options. With these plans, you can use in-network doctors at various locations without having to designate a primary care provider. With coverage that works nationwide, these plans make it a lot easier for full-time RVers to go to the doctor at a range of locations.
Believe it or not, going to the doctor can be as simple as firing up your laptop! Virtual doctors are quickly gaining popularity, and though they began as a way for health insurers to cut costs, RVers are rapidly taking advantage. With these cyber services you have access to real doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Offering companies such as MDlive have a response time of around 11 minutes, and the cost is around $45 per consultation. MDlive is owned by over 200 major hospitals to provide you with comprehensive and ultra-convenient health services.
Tips For Managing Doctor Visits
- Nationwide pharmacies, such as Walgreens and Walmart, can refill your prescriptions outside of your home state. You can also order prescriptions by mail and get a 90-day supply.
- Consider having more than one doctor. If you are a snow bird who travels between two primary locations, have a doctor in the north and one in the south, so that you can establish a relationship with your physician while still enjoying the RV lifestyle.
- Shop around for insurance providers. If possible, choose a health care provider that offers nationwide coverage and versatile point-of-service plans. You may even be able to find a plan that is geared specifically towards RVers!
- Take responsibility for your health and stay active while you travel! Hiking, yoga, and leisure games can be a great way to get healthier, boost your immune system, and avoid having to make an untimely trip to the doctor.
- Carry your health records with you as you travel and keep them up to date. You can store them electronically on a thumb drive or flash drive, and keep a back-up copy as well, just in case. These can come in handy when visiting clinics and walk-in medical centers.
- Talk with your primary doctor/physician about your situation and let them know you are a frequent traveler or that you intend on traveling. They might be willing to work with you around your unique circumstances. You never know unless you ask!
Making sure that you have adequate medical coverage and access to health services for you and yours while traveling can help bring you more peace of mind on the road. While you have a variety of options available to you, decide for yourself which route will best suit your specific medical needs. If you have a solid method for managing your doctor visits while you travel, tell us how in the comments below! We would love to hear your insights, and our readers would too!