Q&A: Does TRICARE cover treatment when traveling abroad?

Exploring different countries and cultures is exciting. As you plan your trip, you may have questions about TRICARE’s coverage when you travel abroad. It’s important to prepare for your trip with your health care in mind.

“When traveling overseas, the rules for getting assistance depend on your sponsor status, your health plan, and your location,” said Michael Griffin, program analyst in the TRICARE Overseas program office at Defense Health agency. “Being prepared to seek healthcare while traveling is as important as packing the right clothes for travel. You should know your options for accessing treatment abroad, as well as what you will need to do when you return home.

The following questions and answers will help you prepare for your trip and learn how to get healthcare abroad if you need it.

Q: Does TRICARE cover me if I need emergency care?
A: YES. If you reasonably think you may have an emergency, call the emergency number for the country you are in or go to the nearest emergency room. The TRICARE Overseas contractor, International SOS, provides 24/7 support if you need urgent or emergency care. Choose the country you are in for a list of contact numbers, including the Medical Assistance number.

If you are hospitalized overnight, notify the regional TRICARE Overseas call center within 24 hours or the next business day. After you return home, contact your doctor, as you may need follow-up care.

Under certain circumstances, TRICARE may cover air evacuations.

Q: What should I do if I get sick while travelling?
A: For medical conditions that are not emergencies but require professional care within 24 hours or any other non-emergency care, active duty service members should seek assistance from military hospitals or clinics whenever possible. Everyone else would have to follow the rules of their health plan to get urgent care abroad. If you need to find a supplier overseas quickly, use the supplier locator tool or call International SOS.

If you need medical advice, the Military Health System’s Nursing Advice Line may be an option. It’s a free service available outside the United States in any country with a military hospital or clinic.

Remember that whatever type of healthcare you receive, you may need to pay upfront and submit a claim to the Overseas Claims Processor to be reimbursed. Be sure to keep all receipts associated with your care.

Q: Can I top up a prescription abroad?
A: If you need to fill a prescription while traveling, remember:

Q: Do I need to purchase additional travel medical insurance?
A: No, but it’s a personal decision. If you’re considering purchasing extra health insurance, keep in mind that all private and travel insurance policies pay out before TRICARE. If you receive assistance while traveling abroad, you will first need to make a claim with your travel insurance. Then send your request to TRICARE, along with an explanation of your travel insurance provider’s benefits for the care you received.

Q: What else should I do before leaving on my trip?
A: TRICARE suggests several items to put on your pre-travel to-do list:

  • Before you leave, log into milConnect and check that your contact and personal information is up to date in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). If your information is incorrect in DEERS, it could affect your TRICARE coverage.
  • Complete all routine health care needs before traveling overseas.
  • Refill your prescriptions before travelling. If you let your doctor know about your upcoming trip, they can authorize up to 90 days’ supply. Pack your prescriptions in your carry-on bag so you have them with you in case your luggage is delayed or lost.
  • Depending on where you’re traveling, check with your doctor to make sure you’re up to date with any necessary vaccinations. Call well in advance so you can make an appointment and get vaccinated before you leave.
  • Download the TRICARE Contact Wallet Cards. List the numbers to use if you need health services or travel support.

Planning makes all the difference in creating a stress-free and enjoyable trip abroad. Find out how your TRICARE coverage abroad works so you’re prepared if you need medical services while you travel. Have a good trip!

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