If you are planning on taking a longer trip or moving to a different country, there are a few important things to need to consider and prepare before leaving the nest.
1| research the medical services|
For those travelling, i.e operating exclusively through tourist or volunteer visa(s), your sole option will be through a travel insurance provider. Even if you can foot a multiple thousand dollar medical bill, some medical providers can refuse care, unless you provide proof of insurance. As mentioned in my travel essentials post, you need to make sure you declare your diabetes to any insurance provider, otherwise they will not cover any diabetes related medical expenses.
2| if you are travelling, you will need to take out an extended trip travel policy |
Most regular travel insurance policies, whether single trip or annual multi trip, only cover up to 90 days abroad. You will need to make sure your insurance covers you for your whole trip, so double check the maximum trip duration details. Enter your travel dates and the premium will adjust accordingly. If you are travelling for several months to a year, you will probably need to take out an extended trip policy. Gap year students may have the option of taking out a "backpackers" or "gap year" policy but many of these do exclude pre-existing conditions.
For ongoing travel abroad, there will likely come a time when you surpass even the most generous extended trip allowance. If the time comes to renew and you have no plans of going home, you need to be aware that you cannot, with the vast majority of insurance companies, take out a new policy from abroad. Most companies stipulate that you have to take out the travel policy in, and starting from, your country of origin. There is only one insurance provider I know of that allows you to take out a policy from abroad, no matter how long you’ve already been travelling for, and that is World Nomads. Naturally the premium reflects this. While you may be tempted to overlook this, insurance companies will check your details upon any claim and if/when they find out that you bought your policy from abroad, it will void the whole policy and you won’t be covered. Once insured, it is your choice whether to operate through public or private hospitals, but you may need to check with your insurance provider first if you decide to go private.
3| if you are moving somewhere on a work visa |
You should have access to public health services as well as private. Employers should generally offer health insurance, providing you with private health care options but make sure to check, otherwise you will have pay or else you will be relying on public services. If your company does offer insurance, make sure to tell them that you have diabetes so there are no issues at a later date.
4| research the standards |
If you are going to be based in one location, find out about the standards of hospital or healthcare services near you. Also, make sure you find out the procedure for obtaining a prescription: do you need to see a doctor or can you simply bring a prescription from home? How much does it cost to see a doctor?
5| you also need to think about your longer-term care |
Look into registering with a consultant so that you have someone to oversee all your diabetes related issues. This includes nutritional advice, HbA1c’s, foot checks and general diabetes management. You also need to make sure you stay on top of getting your eyes checked. This includes getting pictures taken of your retinas to detect any diabetes-related retinopathy.
6| check if your brand of insulin will be available in your country |
If not, see the insulin guide to learn about which insulin you may be able to use as a substitute. You should talk about this with your diabetes team at home before you go and if you decide to switch, always consult a doctor first.
7| bring a prescription from your home country with you |
This will make it easier to arrange ongoing prescriptions when you visit the doctor/pharmacy. You may also want to get your medical history sent over if you decide to register with one healthcare provider.