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Overseas Medical Care for Pregnant Travellers

Although travelling abroad pregnant can mean a lot of 'what ifs' whizzing through your mind, it's a good idea to become prepared so you can answer your own questions. Research and reading features like this one mean that you can put some worries to bed. Just because you're pregnant, doesn't mean you need to put the brakes on or restrict your travels. As we mentioned on our Things To Know page, you can still travel AND have a healthy, normal pregnancy.

Preparation

Planning for your trip can be really exciting; looking into where you intend on visiting and the things you will be doing helps the anticipation grow, but it's also a great idea to start preparing for the worst, even if this does seem to put a dampener on your plans - you'd rather have a safety plan than not have one, right?

So, whilst you're researching what activities are available to you throughout the days of your time away, why not look into local (and adequate) health care centres. Pregnancy or not, this should be something you do anyway just for the simple fact that there really is nothing worse than trekking to every neon green cross sign within a five-mile radius, and with a stinking stomach bug, only to discover that that type of clinic or pharmacy can't really help you. When you're pregnant, putting healthcare first is essential. Look for appropriate facilities close to your destinations and accommodation.

Before you leave, it's a great idea for you to have one final 'road test' before you head off. Make sure that everything is in peak working condition before you go away. Whilst you're there, you can also have a discussion with your GP over keeping your pregnancy needs in check, things you might need to do whilst you're away, dietary needs and not forgetting vaccinations.

Vaccinations are a tricky subject, particularly when needed in conjunction with a pregnancy. Most doctors recommend that you avoid having vaccinations when pregnant because the jab itself contains a portion of the disease to allow your body to build up an intolerance and fight it off. When you're pregnant, you risk carrying the disease from the jab to your baby, who might not have the immune system developed to fight off the disease, so it's risky. Speak with your GP and discuss what is best for you and your baby.

Going back to planning for the 'what if something goes wrong' situation, it's a good idea to pack the latest copy of your pre-natal records. These are translatable into pretty much every language, and should something happen, it's better that the doctor treating you is up to date with your latest medical situation.

Seeking medical treatment

Knowing what to do in a medical situation related to your pregnancy can be difficult, especially in a foreign country where everything seems strange or different.

First things first, make sure you call your Alpha Medical Assistance team for advice on not only what to do in the situation, but also where to go. Bonus: not only is this useful advice from some experienced and organised medical-trained people, but it also helps you should you need to claim from your travel insurance policy later on.

Make sure that you know the local number for the emergency ambulance services. This is the quickest way of getting help fast should you need it. Finally, make sure you are always carrying your health information (EHIC card, passport, proof of travel insurance and essential contact numbers) with you at all times. This will help not only you, but also the medical administration team with processing who you are and contacting the right people. Basically, everything gets a lot easier.

How overseas medical care works

EHIC:

If you, a British national, need medical treatment whilst you are in another country which belongs to the European Union, presenting your EHIC card to medical staff can simplify payment and travel insurance claims procedures.

An EHIC card entitles you to free or subsidised healthcare. In countries which have similar systems to the UK, and in those which have independent healthcare system, you can get healthcare for free or claim reimbursement from your travel insurer for the costs that your treatment incurs on the same terms as the residents of the country you are in.

S2 (E112)

If the sole reason you are travelling abroad is to have your baby there, you won't be covered under your travel insurance and the EHIC card can sometimes be refused (as specifically travelling to another country to receive medical treatment is seen as health tourism). Instead, you are expected to have made arrangements for the birth, your baby and your needs before departing from the UK.

The S2 (formerly known as the E112) entitles you to state-funded treatment in another European Economic Area country, or Switzerland. Treatment will be provided under the same cost brackets and conditions of care as a resident of that country, but this means you may have to pay a certain percentage of the medical bill personally but this can sometimes be claimed back when you return to the UK.

To be issued with an S2 form, you have to apply for funding via a form on the NHS website prior to your medical treatment. NHS England then decide whether or not to approve your application and that your application has met all of their criteria. Upon their approval of the application, you will be issued with an S2 form and you may not have to pay anything towards your treatment.

RHCA

We understand that this section might just be looking like paragraphs of text underneath inexplicable groups of letters but this is all important information - we promise! The RHCA (Reciprocal Health Care Agreement) is a contractual obligation between various countries which promise to treat a UK national as 'one of their own', and give them the emergency healthcare that they require. Treatment in a country with RHCA with the UK can sometimes result in the patient paying any medical expenses that a resident within the same country would also pay or have covered with health insurance. These medical fees can be claimed back from your travel insurance company.

Countries who have a reciprocal health agreement with the UK include: Anguila, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Georgia, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montserrat, New Zealand, Russia, St.Helena, Serbia, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is there to protect you from the huge bills that foreign hospitals charge you after you receive emergency medical treatment. There isn't anything worse than having to look at a bill for hundreds or thousands of pounds when you're still recovering, after all!

Alpha Travel Insurance doesn't class pregnancy as an 'illness' or a 'condition' so you won't have to declare your pregnancy to us, but you will have to declare any complications you have had, or any related medical conditions, such as high blood pressure. Not all insurance providers have the same rules and limits when it comes to pregnancy, just look around!

If you travel in the later stages of pregnancy, your risk of developing complications is greater, so insurers tend to limit travel after a certain date. Alpha travel insurance policies include cover for emergency medical expenses from week 0 to week 28 whilst you are travelling.

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