If you flipped a coin, the likelihood that it would turn up heads offers the same odds as finding a baby boomer who wants to travel and explore the world.
A June 2007 survey developed by Focalyst, New York, and highlighted by AARP, Washington, found that about half of boomers and a third of those a generation earlier than boomers have the travel bug.
Responses to the survey of 30,000 boomers found that more than 81 million adults aged 42 and older are planning to spend a total of $126 billion on their next trip. And, according to the survey, boomers with children 18 and younger are one of the most lucrative segments of the market.
The study found that boomers are more likely to travel domestically than internationally. Sixty-two percent of boomers and 55% of those in the generation preceding them took 2 or more domestic trips in the past year, the survey finds. But, it continues, only a respective 19% and 21% took 2 or more trips in the past 3 years.
Comprehensive data on the number of travelers who become ill is diffuse, but a Web search did locate studies that provided a general idea of the likelihood of illness while traveling. For instance, an August 2002 article on international travel in the New England Journal of Medicine by doctors Edward Ryan, Mary Wilson and Kevin Kain, found that between 20%-70% of 50 million travelers from the industrialized to the developing world reported illness tied to their travel. Most of these illnesses were mild but 1%-5% sought medical attention and 0.01%-0.1% required medical evacuation, the article says.
Knowing what options are available can help reduce medical risk while traveling. The following are just a few of the choices boomers can turn to in the event of illness while traveling.
U.S. Consulates–According to information at Document Link, the following guidance is provided to travelers:
–For injury, when necessary, the State Department can assist in returning a citizen to the U.S. commercially but the full expense is borne by the citizen or family.
–The consulate can assist in finding medical services but the cost is borne by the citizen either through medical insurance or private funds. The Medicare program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside of the U.S. Embassy. Information is available at Document Link.
–While health insurance will pay ‘customary and reasonable’ hospital costs abroad, few pay for medical evacuation back to the U.S., a cost that starts at $10,000. Check medical coverage and look into supplemental coverage if needed.
Credit Cards–Credit card companies offer special cards and programs that include extra help with arranging medical care away from home. As an example, VISA offers a VISA Signature card with 24-hour help in emergency situations including medical emergencies. Prescriptions can be filled or replaced and delivered. Assistance and referrals are provided but the cost of medical attention is borne by the boomer.
Visa Signature Concierge is a related service which includes recommendations on pharmacies and local medical help.
Fees are set and vary by card issuer. Benefits including the Concierge come with every Signature card regardless of issuer and there are no special fees for the Concierge.
American Express offers an array of features, says Mona Hamouly, a spokesperson. She outlines 3 features: a Global Assist 24/7 hotline available to all cardholders and product subscribers that arranges but does not pay for medical services unless the cardholder is a Platinum or Centurion member; an international medical protection service in which enrolled members are charged $14.95 per international airline booking and receive paid medical expenses of up to $75,000, dental expenses of up to $1,000 if expenses are due to injury or sickness, and up to $500,000 medical emergency evacuation; and, a global travel shield program that offers a portfolio of different travel insurance products.