Life Events - Research and Travel: Medical Issues to Handle Before You Leave

Be sure to take all insurance cards and claim forms with you. Write down the phone numbers of your insurance carriers and your primary care physician before you leave in case you have questions or an emergency while you are away. The Important Information page lists University telephone numbers that you may need and provides a place for you to enter your personal information. Print the page and take it with you when you travel. (Note: 800, 866, and other toll-free numbers do not work outside of the U.S. and Canada.) Following the insurance carrier's guidelines could save you time and frustration later if you need to file a claim.

If you plan to travel internationally, the University’s Travel Abroad Health Insurance provides coverage. Faculty and staff are covered by a blanket policy and students must obtain this coverage. This coverage is also available for personal/leisure travel at a very reasonable rate.

If you know that you may need to have health care service when you travel (i.e., for chronic health conditions such as arthritis or a routine condition such as pregnancy), prepare ahead. Check with your health plan company in advance to see how out-of-town health care should be handled. If you will travel internationally, you may log onto the HTH Worldwide website via the Travel Registry, to access doctors and hospitals in that area that are part of HTH’s provider network.

If you have an allergy to certain medications and/or a chronic health problem such as diabetes, this is a good time to purchase-and wear-a medical I.D. bracelet or necklace.


Whether they become ill or are injured, an eligible, covered spouse, other qualified adult, and/or dependents accompanying you on your University business trip must file their claims through their usual group health plan company. If you are unsure about how to file claims when you are out of the state or out of the country, check with your health plan company before you leave.

For international travel, the University’s Travel Abroad Health Insurance is available for spouses and dependents.

Adding or Removing Dependents from your Health Plan Coverage

If you have a change in family status (for example, marriage, birth, adoption, or death), remember that any benefits change must be made within 30 days after the event. You may call the SSC Contact Center at 734-615-2000 or 1-866-647-7657 (toll free). Be sure to include your University of Michigan ID number. The staff will send you the necessary forms to complete.

Open Enrollment

If you will be away from home during the annual Open Enrollment (usually held in October), call the SSC Contact Center at 734-615-2000 or 1-866-647-7657 (toll free). Arrangements can be made to send materials to you so that you can make changes to your benefits for the coming year.


If you are enrolled in the Davis Vision program, you should first check to see if there is an in-network provider in the area you will travel in. If there is not, you may still receive services, but the benefits will be paid based on the non-Davis Vision Provider Maximum Benefits Payment Schedule. You will need to pay for services in full by cash, check, or credit card. Then you will need to apply for reimbursement by obtaining a claim form from the Benefits Office or Davis Vision, and return the receipts and claim form to Davis Vision.

If you are out of the country when you need to use the vision program, you will need to make payments out of pocket. Attach receipts to a claim form and return them to Davis Vision in the usual manner.

If your glasses or contacts are damaged while you are working, replacement is covered through Workers' Compensation. Call Work Connections at 734-615-0643 or toll free at 1-877-869-5266.


It is a good idea to take an extra set of glasses or contacts and a prescription for replacement with you.


If you are covered through the University dental plan, you should adhere to the services provided through the option in which you are enrolled. Coverage will be based on the payment schedule in place at that time.

If you are outside of the country, you will need to pay for the services out of pocket and then seek reimbursement.

Prescription Medications

If you are going to be away for a long time and will need enough medication to cover your stay, plan ahead. Do not wait until the last minute to refill your prescription.

If you maintain your U-M health plan coverage during your trip, you can take an extended supply of medications with you.

If you need more than the usual amount of your medications for extended travel, contact your pharmacist to make sure the existing prescriptions will allow the full amount of medication needed for your trip. If the pharmacist cannot fill the full amount from the prescriptions they have, contact your doctor for new prescriptions. Ask your doctor to write travel prescriptions based on the total number of days you need for travel.

When your pharmacy is ready to fill your full travel supply, call to discuss your list of medications.

  • If you only need one extra month of medications, call MedImpact at 1-800-681-9578.
  • If your prescriptions are filled at mail service or you need extended supplies greater than 34 days, call the U-M Benefits Office at 866-647-7657 and ask for a vacation override.

Be sure to ask your pharmacist about any possible drug interactions with over-the-counter drugs that you usually do not use, such as motion sickness medications or anti-allergic reaction drugs.

If you will be traveling outside the U.S., make sure to read "Dealing with Prescription Medications Outside the U.S.," below.

Medical Issues if You are Traveling Outside the U.S.

Dealing with Prescription Medications Outside the U.S.

You may not be able to obtain your medication overseas. Have a supply of any prescription medications you know you will need while you are away. (See also "Prescriptions," above.)

If you are able to fill a prescription overseas, you will need to pay for your medication and seek reimbursement from your usual prescription provider. Please review the FDA information regarding bringing prescription drugs back into the country. If you are on university-related travel, contact HTH Worldwide for prescription coverage.  

Carry a duplicate copy of the prescription you are taking. Ensure that both the drug's generic and trade names are given. A doctor's note describing why you are taking this medication is also recommended. Leave all medications in their original, labeled container

Some countries have declared a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. This means that even prescription medications or legitimate health conditions may come under intense scrutiny. In some countries, drugs that are legal and readily available in the U.S. may be considered illegal or require a prescription. A doctor's certificate may not suffice as authorization to transport all prescription drugs to all foreign countries. Travelers have been innocently arrested for drug violations when carrying items that are not considered narcotics in the United States. To ensure that you do not violate the drug laws of the countries that you plan to visit, consult with HTH Worldwide when you obtain your insurance via the Travel Registry.


If you use syringes for health conditions such as diabetes, carry a supply to last your entire trip, as well as a medical certificate that states that the syringes are for medical use.

Feminine Hygiene Products

Feminine hygiene products may be very difficult to find in some countries-or extremely expensive if you can find them. Plan ahead and pack what you need.

Medical Consent Issues for Domestic Partners

Medical consent and visitation laws vary by country, but same-sex partners rarely have any legal standing when it comes to emergency hospitalization. If you are critically injured abroad, your partner may not be able to make medical decisions on your behalf, or even visit you in some circumstances. A Medical Power of Attorney is a simple legal document that confers in many countries the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf to anyone of your choosing. After having a lawyer draft the document for you, be sure to travel with notarized copies of it.

Student Health Insurance

Information and applications for student health insurance can be obtained from the University Health Service Managed Care/Student Insurance Office, 207 Fletcher, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1050. Call 734-764-5182 or toll free 1-866-368-0002, or send an email to The UHS website also has information about student health insurance at


If you are a U-M GradCare-covered graduate student enrolled in an off-campus program for academic study, an approved employment program, or off-site field placement, you need to complete a GradCare Off-site Registration Form before you leave campus for your research project. The form must be signed by your department head or faculty advisor and submitted to the Benefits Office.

Changing Managed Care Health Plans

If you are covered by an HMO (excluding GradCare) or U-M Premier Care and move outside the plan's service area for more than six continuous months, you can change your health plan. Call the SSC Contact Center at 734-615-2000 or 1-866-647-7657 (toll free) within 30 days of your move. Your new coverage will become effective the first day of the month after you move. You can change back to managed care coverage during the next available Open Enrollment period (usually in October) if you move back into the service area. If you are enrolled in an HMO and reside in another state (with the exception of the Toledo, Ohio, area) or country for more than six continuous months, you must change your health plan.

Submitting Claims

If you are inside the U.S., file claims as you usually do. Reimbursement Claim Form

If you are outside the U.S., you may submit claims in the usual manner, provided your health care provider will accept your health plan; payment will be made in accordance with the payment schedule in place at that time. Usually, you will need to make payment in full and seek reimbursement from your health plan company. Before processing a claim, many health plans that cover health expenses incurred out of the country require that the bill be detailed, translated into English, and in U.S. dollar amounts. Check with your health plan company to see if your policy covers you when you are outside the U.S. If it does, ask your agent what special restrictions apply.

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