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Emergency health care: What you need to know

FAQ: Worldwide access to emergency medical care and condition support

Access to high quality, reliable health care is one of the most important priorities for people travelling internationally, especially if they’re moving or living overseas with a family. The knowledge someone’s there to help in the event of a major illness or injury is a huge reassurance.

For Aetna International members, the Care and Response Excellence (CARE) team provides that reassurance. Made up of both clinical and operational staff, who look after every aspect of medical care and transportation, the CARE team offers our members a wraparound health care service for total peace of mind while they’re away from home.

Read the following frequently asked questions for details on how we aim to support the provision of appropriate, medically necessary treatment for members in a range of situations.

What is Aetna International’s CARE team?

The CARE team is responsible for looking after the on-going health and well-being of our members while they’re overseas. The team operates globally; drawing on a network of specialists, consultants and operational staff to provide our members with the support they need 24/7, 365 days a year.

Who is it for?

The CARE team provides personalised health care support for all our members, whether they’re travelling on a single business trip, looking to start a new life abroad, or relocating on an extended international assignment with their families.

What does the CARE team do?

We provide wrap around health care, from before you leave home, right up to the moment you return. Our support begins with pre-trip planning, including health assessments and advice on the countries you’re visiting.

While you’re away from home, we aim to provide you with continued support, advice and assistance, so that you have access to the best health care services in the event of any illness or injury. We can also help with access to maternity care, or with support for long-term chronic conditions, including diabetes or cancer.

Our wide range of member support services:

  • Pre-trip planning – advising members on their health needs and availability of health care services before they commence an assignment in a new country
  • Care management – proactively outreaching to and working with members to help you manage your condition or put preventative measures in place with the aim of preventing the future onset of conditions.
  • Preauthorisation – for certain types of treatment, we help members ensure that they are eligible for treatment, and ensure that the proposed treatment is necessary and appropriate. We can support members on their treatment journey including liaising with the treating medical facility or hospital, with the aim of ensuring the best member experience as well as arranging direct settlement to minimise out-of-pocket expenses (an amount paid upfront and then claimed back) for members
  • Maternity management – for eligible members with a maternity plan in place, we support expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy, from preauthorisation of costs through to delivery and after care.
  • Medical evacuation – we make sure you get the treatment you need quickly if a medical emergency arises. We work with the treating physician and your family to authorise the best possible treatment, or arrange to evacuate you to an appropriate destination if needed, either by Air Ambulance, Ground Ambulance or Commercial Airline if an emergency takes place.
  • Second opinion – where necessary, our care management team will arrange a second opinion for our members to confirm an external diagnosis to help ensure the member is receiving the appropriate care.
  • Discharge planning – monitoring you throughout your admission to hospital (for inpatient treatment) to help ensure a timely and appropriate discharge plan is in place

How does the CARE team help before I start my journey abroad?

Before taking any international trip, it’s important we have a clear understanding of your health needs, so we can make sure you get the support you need while you’re away. This is why we offer a comprehensive pre-trip planning service, encompassing:

  • Health assessments – our tests can help identify previously unknown conditions, or give us the latest information on any pre-existing conditions. Armed with that knowledge, we can make sure you have access to the right treatments while you’re away.
  • Support for chronic conditions – we’ll assess your needs before you leave, organise local specialist care on arrival, and make sure any medicine you need is transported safely to your new location.
  • Maternity care – If you’re pregnant, have a maternity plan in place and are eligible for treatment, we’ll make sure you have the support you need before you go, and ante and post natal maternity care in place while you’re there.
  • Overseas health care advice – depending on where you’re travelling, it’s likely the health care system will be different from your home. We give you advice and insights into how the system works overseas, where the local clinics and hospitals are, where to go and what to do in an emergency, and details of any local infectious diseases you should be aware of.

And what happens when I arrive at my destination?

Moving country can be overwhelming for many people, especially if you’re moving with a family. We aim to take the stress out of worrying about health care, allowing you to focus on settling in. Our member support team is available 24/7 to answer any questions that arise.

If your organisation provides you with an Aetna International private medical insurance plan with access to an Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), EAP can help smooth the transition into a new life abroad. The EAP experts offer eligible members practical help such as dealing with the logistics of moving, or finding schools for children, as well as offering counselling and mental well-being support to help you through any difficulties.

What if I fall ill while I’m away and need treatment?

CARE is there. The CARE team is made up of highly trained health care staff based in the UK, who have the ability to call on a network of international health and wellness experts. If you or your family fall ill, our team coordinates between your local treating doctor and other specialists round the world, ensuring you get access to the right health care for you. That can mean flying you to an appropriate health care provider in another country, or collaborating with your local doctor on treatments that offer the best long-term health care benefits

Who decides how my illness, condition or injury is dealt with?

If you fall ill while overseas, you can call our member assistance line for help. Your details are passed through to the CARE team who quickly decide on the best course of action. Depending on its urgency, an action plan can take as little as 15 minutes to determine in the case of an emergency evacuation. Once a decision is made, the team coordinates any resources needed to provide your treatment, including organising transport, hospital pre-payments and arranging passports or visa checks.

How does Aetna International know the best place to go?

The CARE team maintains a network of quality treatment centres and health care specialists around the world to ensure our members have access to the best possible care. Our health care provider network provides you with more than 165,000 providers outside the U.S.

What happens to me after my treatment?

Whatever the circumstances of your illness, condition or injury, the CARE team looks after the needs of eligible members until they’re fully recovered. We’ll be in contact with your treating doctors and surgeons, and we’ll liaise with after care specialists to make sure you return to full health as soon as possible. Where you need specific practical help after a period in hospital, such as transport back home or on-going physiotherapy, our CARE team will make sure they’re organised for you.

What treatments are available to me?

We determine if you’re eligible for treatment through your international private medical insurance plan, and aim to make sure you have access to any treatment you need to give the best long-term results. In some cases that means being evacuated by air for emergency surgery. With other, longer-term illnesses, it’s our priority to ensure you have access to whatever medicines and specialists you need.

It’s important to us that the treatment you get is the right treatment for you. We collaborate with your local treating doctor on the best health care plan, and work as a team to make sure that happens. We also work with our members on preventative measures, helping you to take steps to prevent health care conditions arising in your future. Prevention is always better than the cure, and that’s why our Health Assessment (and the personalised report it generates) is such a useful, globally accessible digital tool.

How much will my treatment cost?

For eligible members with appropriate international private medical insurance in place, the costs of treatment, transport, accommodation and necessary expenses are covered by your health care plan. The exception to this will be any excesses (co-insurance or deductibles) that you or your employer has chosen to apply to your plan. If you do incur costs and are out-of-pocket, our claims team will arrange rapid repayments for eligible claims repayment though our claim system.

If I need to receive treatment, does it matter where I am?

Aetna International operates in almost every country in the world. For eligible members who are in need of treatment, the CARE team will get you the appropriate care, wherever you are.

What if I have a medical emergency?

Heading up the CARE team’s clinical arm, Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International is a highly experienced air ambulance consultant and understands how important a rapid response is in an emergency. If you’re caught in a medical crisis overseas, call our member assistance line and they’ll escalate your situation through to the CARE team. In an emergency, they can quickly arrange for full medical evacuations to a local hospital, with the resources available to give you the treatment you or your family needs.

What if my emergency isn’t medical?

Many of our members travel to high-risk countries and sometimes emergencies happen that aren’t medically related, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. If that happens to you, and you’re an eligible Aetna Pioneer or Aetna Summit* plan holder, you can call on our emergency response partner, red24.

A global security specialist, red24 has two decades of experience providing international support for clients caught in a crisis, handling everything from a passport theft to a rescue from a war zone. We offer two types of red24 support through our Aetna Pioneer (for self-paying individuals) and Aetna Summit (for group clients and their employees); AdviceLine and ActionResponse. Each offers a different set of safety and security services on offer, and members and employers can choose the level of crisis management support they want.

How does accessing health care work at Aetna International?

If you need health care advice or if there’s a medical emergency, you can call our CARE assistance line, 24/7, all year round. Our call handlers will take down your details and send it through to the CARE team who will help you to manage your condition, prevent the onset of future conditions, respond to a medical emergency, or work with your treating physician to ensure you receive appropriate, medically necessary treatment.

Who are the CARE team?

The CARE team is under the clinical supervision of Dr Mitesh Patel. We also have senior medical staff located across the world, with access to a wide network of specialists and consultants. As the CARE team’s Head of Assistance Operations, David Bull aims to ensure you get through to the clinical team quickly and all the logistics involved in your treatment are fully coordinated.

How do I get medical help?

The CARE team is on hand to support all Aetna International members. To find out more about the health care and well-being support we can offer, speak to one of our expert sales consultants.

*In certain territories, Aetna Pioneer is known as Pioneer or Pioneer Dubai, while Aetna Summit is known as Summit or Summit Dubai.

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