How to Get Health Care When You’re Away  

Julie Bitely

| 4 min read

Orange sunset behind palm trees.
Escaping reality on a well-deserved vacation soon? Don’t let an unexpected illness or medical concern stand between you and your dream trip when you’re on the road. If you’re a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network member, your health coverage goes with you when you travel. Emergency care is covered whether you’re in Michigan, across the country or around the world. Just make sure to take your Blue Cross or Blue Care Network ID card with you on your trip. Need a quick diagnosis? With Blue Cross Online Visits℠ members can call or video chat with a U.S. board certified doctor or therapist, using your smartphone, tablet or computer. Afterward, you can share a report of the visit with your regular doctor. Learn more about that here. If you need to see a medical professional in person for medical needs that aren’t an emergency, the type of plan you have determines your level of coverage while traveling. Here’s what you should know about receiving care away from home if you have the following types of plans:

HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)

  • In the U.S.: If you get sick and you’d like to be treated pronto, call your primary care physician first. He or she can provide a referral for you to receive care. Use the Find a Doctor feature on when you need to find a doctor or hospital in Michigan. You can also call the Customer Service number on the back of your Blue Cross or BCN ID card if you’re in Michigan, or dial 1-800-810-2583 if you’re out of state.
  • Outside the U.S.: Outside the country, you have access to doctors and hospitals in more than 200 countries and territories with the Global Core program. Before you leave for your trip, let your primary care physician know you’ll be traveling outside the country so they can arrange any care you need. Emergency care is covered no matter where you are. Call 1-800-810-2583 to find a nearby hospital. You may need to pay for all costs upfront. Non-emergency, routine care is NOT covered when you’re abroad.

EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization)

With an EPO plan, you’re only covered for emergency care and accidental injuries when you travel outside your network in the U.S. or the rest of the world. If you’re outside of the U.S., call 1-800-810-2583 to find local hospitals. Make sure to bring your Blue Cross or BCN ID card with you and note that you might need to pay for all costs upfront. You’ll be able to submit an international claim form through Global Core.

PPO (Preferred Provider Organization)

  • In the U.S.: As a PPO member, you’re free to see any doctor you want for care. However, to keep costs down, find a Blues-approved doctor in your location by using the Find a Doctor feature at
  • Outside the U.S.: Before you leave for your trip, make sure your plan covers international benefits. If it does, call Global Core at 1-800-810-2583 to find a covered hospital or health care provider. When you use an approved Global Core provider, your out-of-pocket expenses will be the same as they are at home. If you're planning to live abroad for a prolonged period of time, learn about extended stay benefits.

Are prescriptions covered?

When you're traveling, knowing you have access to medication when you need it is always a great relief. That's why we make sure you have access to a wide range of pharmacies that can serve your needs, no matter where you are. Fill your prescriptions at over 60,000 participating pharmacies, including most major chains, when you travel in the U.S. In an emergency situation, or when traveling outside of the United States, if a participating pharmacy isn't available, just pay for the prescription out of pocket and submit a reimbursement request. You'll need to keep track of any itemized receipts and submit them with your claim. Find the reimbursement form in our Claims section. The biggest takeaway? No matter your plan, never leave home without your Blue Cross or BCN ID card! For a more in-depth look at how you’re covered on vacation, read this. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association