Health & Vaccinations
International Health Insurance Information
Getting medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be very expensive, and, if you need it, a medical evacuation back to the U.S. can cost more than $50,000! While the U.S. consular officer at your local embassy can assist in locating appropriate medical services, informing family or friends, and even assist in the transfer of funds from back home, ultimately, payment of hospital and other expenses is entirely your responsibility.
All study abroad students are required to possess adequate international health insurance for the duration of their program. If you plan to travel abroad prior to or following your program, you are encouraged to obtain insurance for those periods as well. You are required to maintain your domestic insurance in the United States and should not terminate your existing coverage.
When securing health insurance coverage, realize that most U.S. medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside of the United States—adequate coverage many times will require an additional policy to cover you while abroad. Contact your provider to ask about coverage. If your plan will not cover you abroad, consider other companies such as GeoBlue Travel Insurance or iNext International Insurance who offer international insurance for study abroad students. Premiums are affordable, often around $2/day.
If you’re studying on an HPU Global Experience program (Maymester) or studying for a semester at a partnering institution, you will be enrolled automatically in the blanket HPU International Health and Safety program which includes international health insurance. Premiums for this plan will be billed directly to your student account. If, however, you’re studying on an unaffiliated or independent summer program, you’ll need to secure your own plan. Your coverage should be comparable to what’s required for study at HPU and must include emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Review an example of international insurance provided by iNext to see if your private insurance is comparable.
Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for a guide to insurance providers abroad.
Vaccinations & Medical Tests
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national public health institute of the United States and offers valuable resources to American travelers abroad on their Traveler’s Health website.
As a student on a High Point University study abroad program, it is your responsibility to check the CDC website to see what, if any, vaccinations and/or medical tests are recommended or required for your travel destinations. It also is your responsibility to schedule and obtain any vaccinations and/or medical tests before you travel abroad.
Know that some vaccinations may be time-sensitive and require more than one visit to obtain. Vaccinations and medical tests are not included in the program fee of your study abroad program so you will want to factor their fees into your total participation costs. Contact the HPU Student Health Services, as well as your home physician and/or a travel clinic, for more information as some vaccinations and exams may not be able to be provided on campus.
Please keep in mind that there are different categories of vaccinations of which you should be aware:
- Routine Vaccinations. Be sure that you are up to date on your routine vaccinations. These normally consist of the vaccinations you need to live on campus at HPU and are necessary for protection from diseases that are still common in many parts of the world even though they rarely occur in the United States.
- Recommended Vaccinations. These vaccines are recommended to protect travelers from illnesses present in other parts of the world and to prevent infectious diseases from crossing international borders. Which vaccinations you need will depend on a number of factors including your destination, whether you will be spending time in rural areas, the season of the year you are traveling, your age, health status, and previous vaccinations.
- Required Vaccinations. Currently, the only vaccine required by International Health Regulations is yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ghana, and tropical South America, such as Ecuador. In addition to vaccinations, other countries may require medical tests, such as an HIV test, prior to entry.
Mental Health Abroad
Studying abroad is not a cure for existing mental health conditions and most likely will make existing conditions worse by adding stress, unfamiliarity, culture shock, language barriers, and removing oneself from their normal support system. If you are struggling with a mental health condition, it is important that you discuss with your doctor your intended study abroad plans, including to which countries you plan to visit, what you will be doing, and the length of your program, before making a decision about studying abroad.
Medications and Prescriptions Abroad
If you are taking any prescription medications, ensure you have all the proper documentation for bringing your medication into your host country. We recommend you visit your doctor at least a month before departure to make sure you are fit to go abroad and that any medication complications are resolved. Not all medications approved in the U.S. are legal in other countries, and some countries have stricter regulations than others. This is especially true of AD/HD and other psychotropic medications. Check with the local embassy to make sure that your medication is acceptable to carry and/or mail into the country. Speak with your doctor, especially if your medication is not legal in your host country, about the possibility to switch to another medication. Your international insurance provider also can provide help in answering these and similar questions.
If your medication is legal, you must:
- Bring your medication in its original containers, which should be clearly labeled and prescribed to you, not a friend or family member. Bring over-the-counter medications in their original, clearly labeled containers, as well.
- Bring a copy of your prescription.
- Bring enough medication for the duration of your time abroad.
- Bring a note from your doctor explaining your medical condition, the medication, and why you are carrying such a large supply.
- Be sure to bring all of these things in your carry-on luggage to present at customs. Do not pack your medication in your checked baggage. It is important to have all of these documents on hand so your medication is not held up at customs. It can be very difficult and costly to get a new prescription in your host country. It may also be illegal to have any medication shipped to you.
- Under no circumstances should you share your medications with others. This could be illegal in your host country and penalties could be more severe than in the U.S.
If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, insect bites, or other unique medical problems, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Health Information & Emergency Treatment form. You also may want to consider wearing a “medical alert” bracelet. Talk with your doctor to determine what should be the required medical treatment for your allergies. You also may wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining any necessary treatment. If you take over-the-counter allergy medication, you will want to research the availability of your medicine abroad.
It is a good idea to learn how to say what you are allergic to and to describe your allergic reaction in the language of your host country.
Your host country’s gastronomy may differ significantly from what you are used to. If you have dietary restrictions, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Health Information & Emergency Treatment form.
Learning how to say what your dietary restrictions are in your host country’s language will help you to obtain the food you can eat and avoid the food you cannot. Research the food available in your host country, and do not assume that the food you want or are used to eating will be readily available.
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State offers valuable resources to American travelers abroad and has created a website dedicated to American college students studying abroad: http://studentsabroad.state.gov. As you prepare for your program, and while you are abroad, check their website for easy registration with the nearest U.S. Embassy and the most up-to-date information including travel and safety tips, warnings, alerts, world-wide cautions, individual country profiles, and country-specific updates.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Before all travel, register your plans with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You also may access the STEP program enrollment from the U.S. Department of State’s website by clicking on the blue suitcase with the white check mark or from the State Department’s dedicated smart phone application.
Be sure to include all ways a consular officer can contact you, which may include residence hall phones, hotel phones, cell phones, etc. If there is an emergency in the States or in the location to which you are traveling, the consular official will use those numbers to contact you directly.
Travel Alerts & Warnings
The U.S. Department of State provides detailed information about particular countries and their current safety situations. Be sure to review the Travel Warnings webpage for up-to-date information about the locations to which you plan to travel.
The United States Embassies and Consulates offer valuable resources to U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Located throughout the world, it is important to know which embassies and/or consulates offer consular services to assist you should you need them. These services include, among other things, emergency assistance, answers and clarification to non-emergency questions, and replacements for lost or stolen passports.