Travel Advisory Service

Planning a trip outside the United States? Group Health's Travel Advisory Service can recommend immunizations and offer health advice.

The travel advice is included in your benefits. However, there is a fee for travel-related immunizations and travel-related medications, such as for diarrhea and malaria.

Advice Tailored to Your Plans

When you contact the Travel Advisory Service, you will be scheduled for a telephone appointment/consultation with a registered nurse, who will review your travel plans and medical history and discuss recommendations, vaccines, and medications with you.

If travel immunizations are recommended, the nurse will send those recommendations to your primary care clinic.

If your routine immunizations — such as tetanus or diphtheria — are not current, you will be reminded to update those as well. Most Group Health-affiliated plans cover routine, well-care immunizations. (See Group Health's recommended immunization schedules for adults and children.)

If you contract any illness during your travels, Group Health's infectious disease physicians are available to consult with your personal physician upon your return. This is especially helpful if the illness is not common in the United States.

How to Use This Service

To contact the Travel Advisory Service, call 206-326-3488 or toll-free at 1-800-562-6300, ext. 3488.

Or, if you register with MyGroupHealth for Members, you can use the online appointment request form to schedule your phone consultation. With your personal online services, you access your online medical record and services while you are traveling.

To arrange a phone consultation, we recommend you:

  • Contact us early. Call or send your online request form at least two months before your trip starts to allow enough time for the travel staff to respond to your requests and schedule any recommended immunizations. You should get any recommended immunizations about a month before leaving the country to ensure your protection.
  • Have information ready when you call. You will be asked for your name, the names and Member IDs of family members who will accompany you; your departure date, length of stay, and the countries you will visit. A nurse will then call you and review your medical history and the latest information about the countries you plan to visit. If you have received any vaccines outside of Group Health, please have those records available.

Travel Information and Advisories

The service may also send you additional information and advisories about countries you will be visiting. That may include food and water sources to avoid, precautions about insects, and how to prevent or cope with altitude sickness. Adventure travelers going to remote areas will need a different set of precautions than people who will spend their time in developed areas. A trip to Western Europe probably won't require any special immunizations (although tetanus and other basic immunizations should be current).

You may be able to get much of the information you need from the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the U.S. Department of State. These sites include general information about traveling abroad, health advisories and precautions for specific countries, and information about getting emergency treatment while abroad.

Prescription Medicine

If you are taking medicines, be sure to pack an adequate supply. Your doctor may need to approve a larger-than-usual refill. Group Health doesn't pay for medicine you purchase while traveling.

To avoid losing your medicine in case your luggage is lost, carry medicine in your carry-on bags. Be sure to keep your medications in their original container with the prescription on the bottle.

Emergencies While Traveling

Medical emergencies are covered worldwide, but you probably will have a copayment. If you have questions about your specific plan, call Customer Service before you leave or check your benefits booklet.

If you are admitted to a hospital while out of the country, call the Group Health Emergency Notification Line within 24 hours (or as soon as reasonably possible).

The notification number is 206-326-7666. Although this is a recorded message with instructions for you, the recording starts by telling the international operator that Group Health will accept the phone charge.

MyGroupHealth Online Services

If you have an Internet connection on your trip, you have access to our Health and Wellness Resources, where you can find information on all types of diseases, medicines, and medical procedures.

If you receive your regular care at a Group Health clinic, you can register with MyGroupHealth for Members and use our online services to exchange secure messages with your doctor or the Consulting Nurse Service during your trip. (This service is not for travel emergencies; responses usually are made by the end of the next business day.)

Also, with these online services, you can use the online appointment request form to schedule your phone consultation with the Travel Advisory Service.

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