Snowbirds have a lot to think about when they make their annual trek to Florida, and medical care and insurance coverage should be at the top of the list. How you handle routine and emergency medical treatment while you are in Florida will largely depend on the type of health insurance you have and the length of time you spend in the Sunshine State each year.
Emergency Medical Care
If you are insured through a major health care provider, chances are that you will be covered should you need emergency medical treatment while out of state. This holds true whether you have an HMO or PPO plan, and whether you arrive at the medical facility via ambulance or on your own. What is a bit murky, however, is what insurance companies deem to be an emergency.
Each insurance provider has a unique set of rules you must follow in order to ensure you get the proper coverage. Aetna, for example, offers guaranteed no exam life insurance and covers emergency treatment, but stipulates that your primary physician must coordinate any and all follow-up care. It also requires that you notify the company and your primary doctor as soon as you are admitted to a hospital, or within 48 hours of treatment if you are not admitted. Making a simple call before you travel so that you understand what your health insurer’s rules are before an emergency happens can help you to avoid a rush of medical bills.
Routine Medical Care
Emergency care isn’t the only thing you must think about if you spend any significant time at your Florida residence. If you belong to an HMO or have a regional or limited network plan, you may face restrictions when trying to seek routine medical care while you’re in Florida. If your health insurance is limited, simply get established with a local physician in Florida. Many Snowbirds keep their hometown doctor as the primary physician for insurance purposes, but also use a local doctor who has a completed set of their health records and history on hand.
Establishing yourself with a national network is also a good option. Cleveland Clinic, for example, has a large medical facility near Fort Lauderdale that is home to a clinic, emergency room, hospital and family health center. No matter where you are, if you visit a Cleveland Clinic facility, all of your records and information will be available to local staff.
Same with Mayo Clinic, which has a facility in Jacksonville.
If you take regular medications, establish yourself with a national chain like Walgreens. Choose a chain that has a strong local presence in your hometown as well as your local area in Florida. No matter where you are, you won’t have to worry about transferring or calling in new prescriptions, as all of your prescription and insurance information will be readily available.
Selecting a Physician
Florida has sometimes had a shaky reputation for healthcare in the past, largely due to people who stepped into the role of doctor without the appropriate licensing. If you do choose to use a physician in Florida, perform some due diligence before you trust them with your life.
The Florida Department of Health website has a license verification tool that will allow you to check on the validity of any doctor’s license, as well as any history of complaints. The tool gives you access to information about any type of licensed health professional, including psychologists, dentists and pharmacists.