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LANDSTUHL, Germany — With summer and the World Cup approaching, military health care officials are warning U.S. servicemembers that visiting relatives and friends should make sure they have health insurance that covers them overseas.

The military is expecting a rise in the number of friends and families visiting U.S. servicemembers in Europe this year because of the World Cup being played in Germany. In addition, the number of visitors typically goes up in the summer months because people are on vacation.

But, Tricare officials warn, visitors who are not considered dependents cannot be treated at overseas military hospitals.

Linda Morgan, chief of Tricare services — the military’s health care provider — at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, said many Americans stationed overseas who invite friends and family from the States are unaware of the rules and regulations.

“A lot of them don’t see us as a military hospital but as an American hospital and they think they can be seen here,” she said.

Military hospitals will only see American dependents of U.S. servicemembers and Defense Department employees. For example, visiting parents, in-laws or your college roommate won’t be treated in most cases.

While doctors would treat anyone who has an urgent medical condition, a visitor who isn’t a dependent would likely be transferred to a civilian hospital once stabilized, said Ursula Straub, a benefits adviser at Landstuhl. That can be expensive. Transferring a patient from a military hospital to a civilian hospital in Germany costs hundreds of dollars.

And while some health insurance policies pay for hospital costs abroad, some do not pay for a patient’s medical evacuation back to the States. A medical evacuation could cost $10,000 or more, according to Tricare Europe’s Web site.

Tricare representatives suggest visitors should make sure their private insurance covers overseas health care and consider purchasing temporary travel insurance.

Medicare does not pay for care received overseas, and most local doctors will insist on patients paying in cash upfront.

Overseas health-care tips¶ Friends and family members planning to go overseas to visit loved ones should verify what medical services their health insurance will cover overseas.

¶ If a traveler’s health insurance covers them overseas, they must remember to carry both their insurance policy identification card as proof and a claim form.

¶ Travelers with pre-existing medical problems should carry a letter from their doctor explaining their condition and any medication they require. Prescribed medicine should be carried in their original containers.

¶ Servicemembers who have additional questions should contact their nearest Tricare representative.

Source: Tricare Europe Web site

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