Unexpected medical emergencies are a risk for all travellers. Here's how your debit card could help.
When you’ve been waiting all year to spend two weeks sipping on cocktails by the pool in Hawaii, the last thing you need ruining your ‘Zen’ is a medical situation. But with over 9 million Australians travelling abroad every year1, it’s inevitable that some will find themselves in a medical emergency while on their trip.
The good news is there is help at hand for Macquarie Platinum Debit MasterCard holders who can access advice from medical professionals, via a medical and travel security services firm.
How does the service work2?
If you’re a cardholder travelling overseas, you’re able to call up International SOS (the travel and medical services provider), either before you travel or while you’re away to ask for advice and assistance free of charge.
If you’re sick or injured while away, you can talk directly to a qualified doctor, get directed to the best clinics at your location, or if things are really serious, a medical evacuation can be organised.
The service works as a ‘user pay’ model: the call is free, the assistance and advice is free. However, if there's a need for a purchase, for example – to buy antibiotics, to have surgery or to arrange a medical evacuation – then the user pays.
Cardholders can get advice or assistance to help with a whole range of scenarios.
Steps to take before you travel
If you have a holiday or a business trip coming up, you’re encouraged to call the Assistance Centre and ask questions about your needs before you depart. You can ask what vaccinations you’ll need to get, or if you take regular medication, you can find out if you’ll be able to buy it overseas without running the risk of getting counterfeit pharmaceuticals
Help while you're away
Knowing you can speak to a doctor in your own language, anytime, from anywhere in the world can be particularly reassuring for families.
A young family on holidays in Fiji recently were concerned when their two-year-old daughter fell ill in the middle of the night. With a flight to New Zealand booked for the morning, the parents wanted immediate medical advice.
After calling the Assistance Centre and speaking to a doctor, they were advised to push back their flight by two days to allow their daughter some time to recover. Having expert guidance at hand reassured the family and allowed them to make an informed decision.
Cardholders can get advice or assistance to help with a whole range of scenarios. It may be as simple as “I have a toothache in Paris and I’d like to find a good, English-speaking dentist” to “I’m in a remote part of Thailand, I’ve just had a car accident – help me access an ambulance and get to the best hospital in the area” or even “I’ve broken my leg on the Kokoda trail and need a medical evacuation!”.
Finding the best medical facilities overseas
If something really serious happens, knowing which hospital to go to can make all the difference to your treatment and recovery. The closest facility isn’t always the best.
International SOS have teams on the ground around the world who audit medical clinics and hospitals to determine what services are available in each, what medical equipment they use, the capability of the medical team, what languages are spoken and the overall quality of the care provided.
When an Australian travelling in Russia on business failed to show to a meeting, a worried colleague checked his hotel room to find he had suffered a heart attack.
Distressed and very concerned, the colleague called International SOS immediately for help to get his workmate to the best local facility, fast. Once stabilised however, the patient needed emergency surgery.
International SOS not only organised his transfer to a reputable hospital in Europe but also kept his family back in Australia up to date with the medical situation. They even organised plane tickets for the family to be by his bedside in Europe.
It’s hard to put a price on peace of mind. For Macquarie Platinum Debit Mastercard holders, there’s no need.