What is medical emergency evacuation?
As a sort of global AAA for your health and well being, I learned that MedjetAssist is one of a handful of a ‘members only’ organizations that picks you up if you are hospitalized and flies you to the hospital of your choice, regardless of where your travels take you worldwide.
Traditional travel insurance also usually includes medical evacuation, but to the nearest hospital. This means that if you are hospitalized in a remote area of India, you will be transported to a hospital in a bigger city…in India. With MedjetAssist, you choose the hospital, period.
Sounds great, but is it economical for an infrequent flyer (3 to 4 trips per year)? I didn’t want the cost to be expensive but when I found out it was reasonable, I became even more skeptical. For example, an annual family membership that would have included my Florida trip would have only cost $350. MedjetAssist’s medically equipped jet would have swooped in, picked my son and me up and flown us to my hospital of choice—which would have been at HOME. We could have flown home on our own, true, but on a commercial aircraft we would have had to pay a huge penalty cost and remember, my 5 year old was in pain with no diagnosis.
Ever a skeptic, I still wanted information from the source so I spoke with none other than MedjetAssist’s Executive Vice President, Philip Morris. He told me that the company started out many years ago as an international ambulatory service; these guys have been around a while and had many of the logistics already in place when they extended their service. As Mr. Morris explained, “We are not an insurance company. Our service is actually complementary to the typical travel insurance policy,” he said. “As a membership organization, we work for our members.”
MedjetAssist is a ‘must-have’ for every traveling mom, said Morris. “If you are a professional mom with kids at home and you travel a lot [for work], the last thing you want to do is get stuck far away from your family if you get sick.”
Into extreme sports or travel by motorbike? No problem. Biker moms are charged an small additional fee, but extreme athletes are part of the normal program. “You’re probably a good athlete,” as Morris dryly put it. “But if you’re not good enough, or having an off-day, we’ll come get you.”
Of course, there are exceptions and they are noted in regular print on their website. Go to their FAQ page for quick reference. The service will not send aircraft into countries where the US state dept has issued travel restrictions, and travelers with Tuberculosis—like the Atlanta attorney whose escapades turned into an international incident—will not be transported.
For the whole family
It gets even better (do I sound like a ‘emergency evacuation evangelist’ yet?). MedjetAssist’s services can cover the whole family, which includes:
• College-age children away at school, often miles from a major medical center
• Stepchildren and foster children
• Family members living temporarily overseas
• Family members on a cruise (a more involved process, but doable)
• People that go overseas to adopt a child can add that child as a member before they leave the country
MedjetAssist also offers additional programs, such as translation services in case you need a go-between with a physician who is not familiar with English. For a complete list of services and costs, visit www.MedjetAssistassistance.com.
What’s it cost?
Membership fees are extremely reasonable. An annual membership costs $225 for an individual and $350 for the whole family; a seven-day protection plan is just $75 for an individual and $140 for a family. There is also a “Plus” program ($99 upgrade) that includes:
• International cell phone (you pay only shipping and call charges)
• Access to on-line medical records
• Cash advance up to $50K for medical emergencies
• Travel security service (a “danger assessment” of every station on your travel itinerary)
What’s it cost if you are not a member and are medically evacuated from another country and returned home? The average is $15,000. In August alone, MedjetAssist picked up members in Florence, Italy and delivered to Portland, Oregon, NYC and delivered to San Francisco, and Mara, Kenya and delivered to Denver, CO.
Having been in a tough medical situation with my son during a family vacation in Florida, the MedjetAssist solution is thoroughly convincing to me. If only I had known about this earlier!