Getting Proper Health Care While Traveling Can Be Tough
With the RV lifestyle, you get to experience and discover different regions, cities, nature, and cultures throughout the country. One aspect we discovered along the way is how long it takes to get health care while you’re traveling.
We’re from a mid-sized town in Michigan and have been spoiled when it comes to health care. Our hospital system was named “One of the Nation’s 100 top Hospitals for 2022” and “One of the top 15 Teaching Hospitals in the Nation” by Fortune Magazine. Plus, we never had to wait long for an appointment, and we had lots of choices for health care providers.
When you travel, that’s not always the case with your health care options.
Finding Health Care Providers Taking New Patients
When we were traveling in the Pacific Northwest, we spent 8 hours in the ER one night. We needed to get Court’s heart checked after some scary abnormalities. After she completed the halter monitor they assigned her, we needed to find a primary care doctor. They would need to check-in to review the results and discuss any further diagnostics that might be needed.
Her primary care doctor was 2,300 miles away, so we thought we’d just find a local health care provider. We assumed a doctor would likely need to listen to her heart.
We literally couldn’t find a single doctor. I take that back. We could find doctors, but not any that were taking new patients with less than a 3-month wait. Because we were in a travel season, that wasn’t going to work for us.
That’s when we first realized that we took health care availability for granted back home.
Finding Therapy When Traveling
Mental health is an important pillar in health care, and we’re strong advocates for therapy. When we lived in a stationary home, we had regular therapy sessions as individuals and as a couple. With the emergence of online therapy options, we thought it’d be no big deal to continue therapy while traveling.
We were very wrong.
We thought it would be fine to be paired with someone from Michigan because we were domiciled there. All our legal paperwork says we’re from Michigan, and we thought that was good enough. Turns out, you have to be paired with a therapist who is physically in the same state as you. The only exception is working with a nationally certified therapist.
We signed up with BetterHelp a couple of times, each time struggling with the right fit. We asked if they had any nationally certified therapists – the answer was no.
We even asked if we could meet with a therapist from Michigan and say that we were just traveling for vacation. Nope. That’s also against licensing rules and a therapist could lose their license for treating a patient out of state.
According to one therapist we spoke to, “I can’t even have a session with a well established patient of mine if she goes on vacation across state lines.” Wow.Better Help
BetterHelp told us one option was for us to switch therapists every time we moved to a new state. That was a hard no from us as a couple who has traveled 26 states in 2 years.
So we went to our health insurance company and asked for a list of nationally certified therapists in their network. That felt like a mistake when they returned a list of hundreds of therapists. Then it was on us to call each one, ask what their rates were and if they provided teletherapy. We got through about 12 and gave up.
Bottom line, when you travel it becomes overwhelmingly more difficult to find mental health care while on the road.
Consistency of Health Care While Traveling
Even if you are fortunate enough to be able to snag a health care provider along your route, the follow up care can be tough. For something like the heart issues Court was experiencing, a health care provider will want you in the area for a length of time so they can effectively treat and monitor you.
Even if it’s not for something as serious as a heart issue, consistency of care is important to fully treat and address health care issues. When Court slipped a disc in her back, she needed consistent care to be able to properly diagnose and treat what was going on. That was tough when our route had us moving every week to get south before the temperatures dropped. She saw 4 different health care providers in 5 weeks, all with different opinions.
Sometimes it’s not even consistency of care – it’s just having enough time in the area to get whatever procedure you’re needing. If you need knee surgery or a root canal, that’s going to really effect your travel plans and will require a bit of notice so you can find availability at the campgrounds where you need to stay.
If you’re jumping into the RV lifestyle, know that it’s an incredible experience and we wouldn’t trade it for anything, but be prepared that it can also be tough to find health care while you travel. It won’t be like it was when you were living in a stationary home.
While health care can be unpredictable on the road, your insurance doesn’t have to be. Find the right insurance plan for your health that travels with you as an RVer. The agents at RVer Insurance Exchange can help! You can call them directly at (800) 867-4330 or if you’d rather click than call, get a free online quote here.