Will I still be able to travel?
Yes. You should be able to travel and it is encouraged! For many people, traveling is a form of recreation. It’s an experience that allows for a break from the day-to-day routine. For others, travel is a necessary part of employment. Either way, if you want or need to travel, be assured it is still possible. With a little extra preparation, you should be just fine.
How much time do I need to start planning my trip?
The amount of time you need depends on several factors. Are you traveling to another state or internationally? It takes about 6 weeks to prepare for travel within the U.S. It takes about 12 weeks to plan for international travel. Are you traveling during the holidays? A clinic may already have visitor stations reserved for the holidays. If you are on peritoneal dialysis and need to ship your supplies, you will need to give your supplier 30 days notice in order to deliver supplies to a new location. You should also take into account that it may take longer to deliver your supplies during the holidays.
I’m visiting a remote city. Will I be able to find a dialysis clinic out there?
Dialysis clinics are located all over the world. Even if a clinic is not in the town you are traveling to, there is a chance that a clinic is close by. A good way to find out if there is a dialysis facility within the United States near your travel area is to check out http://www.medicare.gov/Dialysis. This site will allow you to locate dialysis facilities that are available within a certain distance from a city you request. The site will also allow you to view and compare the details of the facilities, such as treatment modalities offered, shifts starting after 5 p.m., and number of stations available. Some clinics offer peritoneal dialysis as well as hemodialysis. If you are traveling internationally, log on to www.globaldialysis.com for a comprehensive list of units around the world. You may want to check with a travel agent for special travel programs that accommodate dialysis.
I’m on peritoneal dialysis and I’ll need my cycler and extra supplies. Can I take these items on a plane, or do they need to be shipped to me?
You do have options for getting your supplies to your destination. If you’re going for one or two days, pack your supplies and enjoy yourself. If you’re going for a longer time, or flying, tell your PD nurse your plans. Ask for names of nearby units to call in case you have a problem. Thirty days before a long trip, tell your PD supplier where to ship your bags. The supplier will ship anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. Two days before you go, call to confirm your supplies have arrived. If you use a cycler and are flying, pack it in its case. Call the airline to make sure they will “gate check” the cycler as a critical medical supply. This means you carry it to the gate, and the cycler is last on and first off the plane. It will be waiting at the arrival gate.
If I dialyze outside of my regular clinic, will my insurance still cover the cost of treatment?
If Medicare is your primary healthcare coverage, it will pay for 80% of your treatment cost anywhere in the U.S. or U.S. territories. Medicare does not cover treatments on cruise ships — even U.S. cruises – or at facilities outside of the United States. Facilities often ask patients to pay the 20% Medicare co-payment for dialysis and medications. If you have secondary coverage, ask your insurance company about reimbursement of the co-payment. The payment policies of commercial health insurers vary. Many require that you get authorization before treatment, so check with them before making plans. Medicaid (state medical assistance) programs will pay for treatments if you are traveling within your state but generally not if you travel out of state. Please be sure to check your health care coverage before traveling as information does change periodically.
Is there someone available to help me plan for traveling?
Yes. When you begin dialysis and become affiliated with a dialysis center, you will be able to speak with a social worker who can guide you through the travel process and help you to secure all the necessary arrangements for travel.