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How to prepare for a medical trip to the USA

How to prepare for a medical trip to the USA

If you are looking to travel to the USA for medical treatment, you’ll need to go well prepared. There are numerous things to think of when traveling for medical purposes, from crossing the border with medication to the questions you need to ask your specialists before arriving:

Find and make arrangements with a medical specialist

The first thing to do is find a medical specialist. Don’t wait until you arrive, only to be told that there are no specialists available for the time you’ll be in the USA, or to have a junior doctor rather than an experienced specialist perform your procedure. If you going to the expense and discomfort of traveling to the USA for medical treatment, make sure the trip is worthwhile. There are a number of key questions you’ll need to ask once you’ve selected your specialist:

  • What documents will your American specialist need to see (insurance, medical records from your doctor at home, etc.)? If these documents are not in English, will you require a sworn translation?
  • How long will the treatment take? What is the risk of complications that would mean you have to stay longer?
  • What is the cost of the treatment? How can you pay your bill (cash, credit card, online)?
  • Will the procedure be inpatient or outpatient?
  • If outpatient, what will you require in terms of accommodation to be safe and comfortable? How can you access the hospital or clinic where your treatment will take place?
  • How long will it be before you can travel back to your home country safely?

Preparing your travel documentation

Thanks to the Visa Waiver Programme, UK citizens can apply for an ESTA to travel to the USA for medical purposes, as long as the total duration of the trip is under 90 days. Make sure to obtain documentation from your medical specialist on the duration of your treatment, as you may be asked for this information at the border. If there is a chance that your trip will extend beyond 90 days (check this with your doctor) you will need to apply for a Medical Visitor Visa instead. For details, visit the State Department website.

Traveling with medication

In order to avoid problems with customs, make sure any medication you bring is in its original container with the doctor’s prescription printed on it. Ideally, you should have a copy of your doctor’s prescription with you to avoid any issues. This is a strict requirement if the medications are no longer in their original containers. To travel with medical equipment, for example oxygen gas, you have to carry a prescription letter from your doctor. If the prescription is written in a language other than English, you may want to check whether or not you require an official translation to show at customs.

More than any other kind of trip, medical tourism requires meticulous preparation. Avoid any difficulties by discussing the details of your treatment with your specialist, from the documents you should bring to the accommodation you book and the type of visa you’ll need to apply for, to ensure a stress-free medical visit to the USA.

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