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Health and Safety Abroad

Your health and safety are Texas State’s top priority while you study abroad. Whether you are participating in a Texas State Faculty-led Study Abroad Program, a Texas State Exchange Program, a Texas State Affiliated Program, or an independent study program, you will find important information below concerning your health and safety while abroad.

Before You Go

Insurance

Non-Emergency Situations

In an Emergency

Before They Go – For Parents and Loved Ones


Before You Go

Attend Orientation Sessions
If you are participating in a Texas State Faculty-led Study Abroad Program or in a Texas State Exchange Program, be sure to attend the pre-departure orientation sessions, which will provide you with extensive information about your specific program. If you are studying abroad in an affiliated program or independently, take advantage of all orientation opportunities available. The more information you have prior to departure, the greater your chances for a successful and less stressful experience.

Visit Your Doctor
Some study abroad programs and travel can be physically and medically rigorous, so Texas State Study Abroad strongly advises that you have a physical examination to receive assurance from your doctor that you are able to travel abroad. Ask your doctor whether he or she recommends that you receive any inoculations prior to your trip. Also check the Center for Disease Control Web site to determine what inoculations are recommended or required, and refer to the following section.

Receive Any Necessary Immunizations
Some countries and regions of the world require that visitors, especially visitors who stay for an extended period, receive certain vaccinations prior to arrival, so double-check on the requirements of your destination country. If you are traveling to a location where rabies is possible, or if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, consider whether you need to receive a rabies vaccination before your departure.

If you have allergies or other medical conditions, check with your doctor to ensure your medical or health needs can be addressed during your travels.

Secure Medications
If you are taking any prescription or non-prescription medications, be sure you have an adequate supply for the duration of your time away from home. Some insurance providers such as HTH and travel assistance companies can secure prescription medications for you while you are abroad, but this service can be costly, and you must have subscribed to a company that provides the service. Sometimes medications easily found in the United States may not be available abroad or in the dosages that your doctor prescribed. All medications, including over-the-counter medications, must be clearly labeled and in the original containers, since they are liable to inspection by immigration officials. Also, be aware that some substances considered legal in the United States may not be considered legal in your destination or countries you visit in transit, so you may want to do further research regarding your specific medications. See the U.S. State Department Web site, view the YouTube video Health and Safety Abroad: Prescription Drugs, and consult with your doctor for more information on bringing your medications abroad.

Become Familiar with Your Insurance Coverage
If you are participating in a Texas State Faculty-led Study Abroad Program or in a Texas State Exchange Program, you have health insurance and travel assistance coverage through HTH Worldwide (HTH) and International SOS (ISOS). Become familiar with HTH and ISOS prior to departure, and determine if the medical coverage provided through HTH is sufficient to meet your needs. If you determine that the coverage is insufficient, you may need to take out an additional policy so that you have adequate coverage while abroad.

If you are studying abroad independently, Texas State Study Abroad strongly advises you to make sure that you have sufficient health and accident insurance for the entire period of your trip. Some insurance providers are listed below.

Be Aware of Legal Information Specific to Your Destination
While you are abroad, local law and judicial systems will apply to your actions. These systems can be quite different from our own and may not provide the same rights that we often take for granted in the United States. There is little that the University or U.S. State Department can do on your behalf if difficulties arise; moreover, the costs can be high, and the process can be complicated if you are arrested.

Be aware that the University’s Code of Student Conduct is expressly enforced during Texas State Study Abroad Programs. Though discipline problems have been at a minimum in the past, students occasionally have been dismissed from programs because of misconduct. If you are dismissed, you will lose credits, there will be no refund, your discipline records at Texas State may be affected, and your continued stay—should you choose to stay—as well as your return home will be at your own expense. You will not be allowed to remain at the program’s location or to participate in the program in any way.

Be Sure a Loved One Has a Current Passport
For each study abroad student, Texas State Study Abroad encourages a parent, family member, or loved one to have a current passport; a critical situation may occur during your time abroad, in which you may need the support of a loved one at your location abroad.

Stay Informed about Health and Safety Abroad
In addition to the suggestions above, Texas State Study Abroad recommends that, in preparing for your study abroad experience, you view the free video series Health and Safety Abroad, produced by HTH, which are available on YouTube.

The following resources will provide you with additional and current information about international health and safety issues:

Make Travel Preparations
Minimize unexpected difficulties during your program by making some simple preparations:

  • Before departure, learn how to make a phone call from your study abroad destination to the United States and within the country. Investigate calling card and cell phone options for your destination. There are several Web sites that provide instructions for calling internationally.
     
  • Always travel with some emergency cash and credit cards, and secure this currency—for example, in a hidden pocket in your clothing, or in a neck pouch under clothing—to guard against theft. Often in emergency situations, cash payment is required prior to receiving treatment. ISOS can provide cash transfers when requested, but at a considerable expense.
     
  • Pack an extra change of clothes, your medications, and essentials in carry-on luggage. In the event of lost luggage or travel delays, you will have your essentials. Be sure those items meet Transportation Security Administration (TSA) standards; visit the TSA Web site and read “What to Know Before You Go.”
     
  • Always carry a list of emergency contacts—including your loved ones, your Academic Program Director (APD) or program representative, your health insurance provider, local police if appropriate for your location, the Texas State University-San Marcos Police Department (UPD), Texas State Study Abroad, the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and the U.S. State Department emergency number—with you. Do not rely solely on numbers in your cell phone, since your cell phone may become disabled.
     
  • Sign up to receive flight status updates from your airline, and confirm your flight information before you depart for the airport. Report any changes in your itinerary to your APD or program representative, to your loved ones, and to any Web sites where you submitted your itinerary.

Insurance

HTH and ISOS for Texas State Programs
In the interest of your health and safety during your study abroad program, Texas State has contracted with two companies: International SOS (ISOS) and HTH Worldwide (HTH). ISOS is a travel assistance service, and HTH is a health insurance company. Please note that policy coverage from these companies only includes the dates within your program period; if you choose to travel on your own before or after your program period, you will not be covered. Texas State Study Abroad recommends that you purchase health coverage for the additional time abroad.

For the safety of its students, Texas State requires that all students participating in study abroad programs have international  coverage through HTH insurance and SOS travel assistance, regardless of any other insurance they may have. Since most U.S. health insurance carriers do not adequately cover the range of issues facing students who study abroad, the Texas State has selected an international health insurance and travel assistance provider and negotiated rates for all its study abroad students.  Texas State must ensure a standard level of coverage for all, so that predictable levels of support can be accessed if needed, especially during any emergency. Insurance waivers will not be provided to students participating in Texas State study abroad programs.

Services of HTH
Your group health plan with HTH offers comprehensive benefits, including health insurance coverage at 100% of reasonable expenses for physician office visits, inpatient hospital services, and hospital and physician outpatient services. The advantage of using HTH at some locations is that you may use the HTH network of physicians and health care facilities without having to pay out-of-pocket in some cases; you may need to contact the physician and HTH ahead of time to make these arrangements or to contact HTH upon arrival at your destination to determine which hospitals and physicians are pre-approved or need to be approved. HTH will not cover all medical expenses, such as injury sustained from being legally intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol as defined by the jurisdiction in which the event occurs. For a complete list of what is not covered, visit the HTH Web site.

Services of ISOS
ISOS does not provide medical insurance but does provide travel assistance and emergency evacuation services. The ISOS network of multilingual critical care and aero-medical specialists operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from ISOS Alarm Centers around the world. International SOS now has a new dedicated phone line for urgent and non-critical medical and security advice and support for all scholastic members. Calls are answered and managed by coordinators, medical and security staff who are trained to handle students' requests for assistance. They understand that student travelers have a unique set of needs. Their services are designed to supplement the policies, procedures, and staff support that the University already has in place. For more information on ISOS, visit the ISOS Web site.

 

Insurance for Students Studying Abroad Independently and/or Traveling Abroad Independently
It is important to realize that most U.S. insurance coverage is not recognized abroad. Therefore, Texas State Study Abroad strongly recommends that you acquire sufficient health and accident insurance for the entire period of your trip. Ask your study abroad program provider if you will have insurance coverage while participating in the program; if so, request a detailed description of this policy. The following insurance companies provide health insurance to study abroad students (these options are presented as a reference, and it is not the intention of Texas State Study Abroad to recommend any of these companies):

HTH

Travelex Insurance Services, 800.228.9792

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)

Travel Guard Insurance

CMI Insurance Worldwide

Betins International Health and Travel Insurance

Health Care Global 2000

Travelinsured


Non-Emergency Situations

During your study abroad program, you may encounter non-emergency situations that are not critical but with which you still require assistance.

What Are Non-Emergency Situations?
Examples of non-emergency situations are minor illnesses or injuries, difficulties with roommates or housing, or problems with program coursework.

Assistance with Non-Emergency Situations
If you are participating in a faculty-led program, your faculty leader, the Academic Program Director (APD), will normally be able to assist you. In other cases, your program may be with a third-party provider that may also have on-site staff to assist you. If you need non-emergency medical assistance, you can contact HTH, ISOS, or your medical insurance company for help in locating a health care provider in your location.


In an Emergency

What is an emergency?
An emergency is an urgent, usually unanticipated situation or occurrence that threatens your health or safety and requires immediate action.

Examples of emergencies include the following:

  • Severe illness or injury
  • Crime victim
  • Arrest
  • Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country

Whom to Contact in an Emergency
In case of an emergency, your Academic Program Director (APD) or on-site program support staff will normally be able to assist you.

If you are unable to reach either the APD or the on-site support staff at the moment of your need, for all medical emergencies, you normally should first contact HTH (888.243.2358) or your medical insurance provider. In some emergency situations, Texas State Program participants may need to contact ISOS (215.942.8478). Be prepared for an emergency situation by becoming familiar with the emergency services your insurance and travel assistance providers offer for your location.

For non-medical emergencies or in cases in which you cannot contact program or insurance representatives, you may contact the following:

  • ISOS (Texas State Program participants), 215.942.8478
  • Texas State University-San Marcos Police Department, 512.245.2805
  • Texas State Study Abroad, 512.245.1967
  • The U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting

When making an emergency phone call, always first state the phone number where you can be reached and your location, in case you become disconnected or your call is interrupted.


Before They Go—For Parents and Loved Ones

The planning and involvement of family or loved ones can help to ensure a safe, enjoyable study abroad experience for the student. Be prepared for a critical situation while your loved one is studying abroad by following these recommendations.

Understand the Student’s Health Insurance
The health and safety of Texas State students as they study abroad are the top priority of Texas State Study Abroad. In the interest of students’ health and safety during their study abroad programs, Texas State has contracted with two companies: HTH Worldwide (HTH) and International SOS (ISOS). HTH is a health insurance company, and ISOS is a travel assistance service. Policy coverage for students on Texas State Study Abroad Programs or Texas State Exchange Programs includes the dates within their program periods. If students choose to travel on their own before or after their program periods, we recommend that they purchase health coverage for the additional time abroad.

We recommend that family and loved ones become familiar with HTH and ISOS (or other insurance coverage) prior to the student’s departure. Please read the information above under Insurance, and please refer to the Web sites of HTH and ISOS. In many countries it is required that the patient pay for services prior to treatment. Often credit cards are accepted, but in some cases they are not. In such a situation, your student may need access to cash that is readily available—from an ATM, for example. ISOS will advance funds and pay in local currency if requested, but charges will apply.

Consider Legal Issues
Though we do not anticipate that Texas State students will have legal difficulties during their time abroad, please know that there is little that the University or U.S. State Department can do on students’ behalf if legal difficulties arise. While students are abroad, host country law and judicial systems will apply to their actions. These systems can be quite different from our own and may not provide the same rights that we often take for granted in the United States.

Student Behavioral Expectations
Be aware that the University’s Code of Student Conduct is expressly enforced during Texas State Study Abroad Programs. Though discipline problems have been at a minimum in the past, students occasionally have been dismissed from programs because of misconduct. If a student is dismissed, the student will lose credits, there will be no refund, and the student’s continued stay—should he or she choose to stay—as well as the return home will be at the student’s expense. A dismissed student will not be allowed to remain at the program’s location or to participate in the program in any way.

Have a Current Passport
For each study abroad student, Texas State Study Abroad encourages a parent, family member, or loved one to have a current passport; in a crisis, you may need or want to be able to support your loved one at the location abroad. Both HTH and ISOS provide reunion costs reimbursement if approved and certain criteria are met.

Learn How To Contact Your Loved One
Before the student departs for the study abroad program, be sure you know how to reach the student by phone at the destination. Know the phone number(s) at which your loved one can be reached. Learn to make a phone call from the United States to the destination country; learning how to do so before the program begins will save you essential time in the case of a crisis situation.

Record Essential Contact Information
Record these phone numbers if available and keep them in an easily accessible location:

  • Student’s phone number
  • Academic Program Director or Program Representative
  • Host institution contact number, if applicable
  • HTH (for Texas State Program participants): 888.243.2358
  • ISOS (for Texas State Program participants): 215.942.8226
  • Other insurance provider, if applicable
  • Texas State Study Abroad: 512.245.1967
  • Texas State University-San Marcos Police Department: 512.245.2805
  • U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest the study abroad location

New Dedicated SOS Line for Texas State Study Abroad Participants: (215) 942-8478

In the interest of your health and safety during your study abroad program, Texas State has contracted with two companies: International SOS (ISOS) and HTH Worldwide (HTH).

International SOS now has a new dedicated phone line for urgent and non-critical medical and security advice and support for all scholastic members. Calls are answered and managed by coordinators, medical and security staff who are trained to handle students' requests for assistance. They understand that student travelers have a unique set of needs. This new dedicated line ensures consistency of service for students, faculty, staff, parents and administrators.