Wondering how to take care of your medical needs while RVing? Need to figure out your medical needs before you go on your next road trip?
Full-time RVers will tell you that maintaining top-quality medical care can be complicated when you live in a travel trailer or motorhome.
Health insurance plans can make it worse, limiting out-of-state coverage, restricting coverage to health networks, or exceptions that work against those of us living the RV lifestyle. But keep an eye on telemedicine as there are many updates happening in that arena.
Here are 8 handy tips to get organized before you hit the road.
1. Stock the Basics
Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit is the best way to be prepared for a minor medical emergency during a road trip.
Because a family member’s health may depend on it, don’t be skimpy on the size or quality of the kit you buy.
It’s also a good idea to customize the kit, including items specific to your family’s health. From glycerin pills to hydrocortisone cream, pack anything members of a family member might need, including:
- Ostomy Supplies
- Hearing Aid Batteries
- Spare Eyeglasses
2. Plan Ahead
The better you plan for medical needs, the easier it will be.
Talk with your caregivers before leaving to make sure that there aren’t any medical issues to overcome before you set out.
Schedule appointments to take place before your trip begins, and make arrangements to postpone or reschedule future visits pending your return.
As inconvenient as it may be, you may have to plan your excursions around important in-office appointments.
3. Check Your Insurance
Not all insurance policies are created equal, and some policies may restrict your coverage while on the road.
To keep medical expenses down, your best option is to shop for a policy that includes full national coverage.
Keep in mind that you will always be able to visit emergency rooms under your current insurance provider, but ER visits can result in extra costs and large medical bills, even with great coverage.
If you are living the RV lifestyle full-time, it might be a good idea to look into a healthcare cooperative like the RVer Insurance Exchange.
There are a lot of people in the RV lifestyle, and this network treats them as the specific demographic that they are. You can search online for similar cooperatives.
We've seen MANY posts in our Facebook Group about insurance. Here's a question you might have:
“Ok, sorry, but I am posting the medical insurance question again with a different twist. My husband is old enough to go on Medicare but I am not. We really want to retire and rv fulltime. Has anyone heard of any kind of Medicare supplement or dependent policy to cover couples in this situation? Is our only option to find individual coverage for me while he is covered by Medicare?” And here are the excellent answers from our community.
4. Medications and Supplies
If you need to order fresh medical supplies periodically, you can have them shipped to General Delivery at a United States Post Office along your route.
You will need the city and zip code for the post office you are sending to, then use “GENERAL DELIVERY” as the street address, like this:
CITY STATE ZIP
Not all post offices in a geographic area support general deliveries, so call ahead to verify you are using the right location. And note that your mail will only be held from 10-30 days depending on the location. Make sure you pick your mail up before those deadlines expire.
Here's another great question from our Facebook Group about medical insurance with 82 excellent comments, including this one:
“We are on Medicare and have the AARP Medicare supplement coverage provided by United HealthCare Insurance Company. So far, we have used it in Petaluma Hospital, CA for emergency care, Buffalo, NY General Hospital for a four-day stay with many tests, and an emergency room care in Sydney, Australia and it didn't cost us a dime. Locally, Minnesota, we've used it several times and so far our outlay is zero other than our premiums. No co-pay coverage and we have got way more than our money's worth.”
5. Emergency Contacts
For your own peace of mind, there are three places that should contain a list of emergency information: Your wallet, your glove box, and your smartphone.
Your wallet and glovebox are hard copies that can be located in the event of an emergency, and your phone’s digital copy can be accessed if you need to make an unscheduled visit to urgent care centers.
In addition to things like next-of-kin, your emergency contacts should include the phone number of any doctors or caregivers you see regularly, types of medications you take regularly, and any allergies you may have.
In a situation where you are not able to provide information yourself, the information you have available in a hard copy may be your life support.
6. The RV Community
Online forums (like our Facebook Group) and local campgrounds are great sources of information about getting medical care while living the RV lifestyle. These information sources allow you to communicate with people who have already been where you are now, saving you a lot of time and hassle when an emergency arises.
If you have medical conditions that may occur at any moment, including sleep disorders, seizures, or forgetfulness, the other campers in your area can literally be a lifesaver.
If you know that a situation may arise in which you are unable to take critical emergency steps, knowing that someone else is watching out for you is a blessing waiting to happen.
7. Online Services
There are a host of online services aimed at providing virtual healthcare, connecting patients to virtual doctors, and more.
Depending on your medical conditions and needs, these services can provide you with virtual medical visits, locate nearby urgent care centers, and find providers who accept your insurance coverage.
To give you an idea of what is available to the RV lifestyle, these links cover a few niche applications:
- PeaceOfMindForRVs.com is an emergency transportation coverage solution that pays 100% of all ambulance charges. By Ground. By Air. Anywhere.
- RVer Insurance Exchange – RV lifestyle insurance cooperative
- K Health – Online healthcare with doctors, prescriptions, and more
- Solv Health – Find caregivers that will accept your insurance coverage
- Air Vet – A virtual vet app for pets that is similar to K Health for humans
8. Care for Pets
On the subject of veterinary care, keep in mind that your pets are equal members of your family and may need medical care as well.
Be sure to pack any medications, provide worm and parasite treatments, or take care of other periodic needs before you hit the road.
While traveling, you will need to know what prescriptions your pet takes, and it is a good idea to carry a vaccination record in case it becomes necessary.
If you have a special needs pet, invest in a tag to lets anyone who may find your pet in need who to contact and how they can provide immediate assistance to your furry periodic medical needs before your trip begins.
You should also pack along documentation listing your pet’s prescriptions, vaccination records, etc. If your pet has special needs, purchase a tag or collar that lists your mobile number and any immediate actions which might save your fur baby’s life.
The RV lifestyle is exciting and free, but it is not free of medical or health care needs. From injuries like broken bones to existing health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes,
There are countless times when you may be far from home but in need of immediate medical attention. You will need to take a few extra steps before setting out to live the RV lifestyle, but there are clear-cut methods available to make your traveling life a little more carefree.