Host nation healthcare: What to expect off post
Living overseas can bring changes and challenges for Americans in Europe. One diff erence that may present a challenge is host nation healthcare. Although this can be a dissimilar experience to what Americans are used to, it does not have to be one in which you go it alone. You do not have to be intimidated if you go to a medical facility on the local economy. There are things that can be done to help ease the worry when facing a visit to a host nation treatment center.
Located on all military treatment facilities in Europe, patient liaisons assist Americans who utilize local medical facilities and act as an intermediary between patients and doctors to help facilitate the best care possible. From the language barrier, to insurance forms, to providing comfort to the client, patient liaisons help patients feel comfortable in their surroundings.
When appointments are made with host nation clinics already on fi le with the local military treatment facil- ity, a patient liaison is contacted directly. If you need emergency care, ask the hospital to contact a patient liaison or call your local military treatment facility or TRICARE service center (TSC) to arrange a meeting. Once you have made contact, your patient liaison will help with any questions or needs.
Dr. Evan Steil, the head of the Europe Regional Medical Command (ERMC) patient liaison program, says that the program “is there to help our benefi ciaries feel more comfortable in accessing a host nation medical provider. The liaisons give an extra sense of reassurance that the military treatment facility is not ‘abandoning’ the patient when it is necessary to leave the base for further care.” This reassurance is one that can help facilitate an easy and comfortable visit to a host nation medical provider.
The patient liaison program is available through both TRICARE and the Army’s ERMC and is open to all ID card holders, including non-TRICARE members. “In fact, TRICARE service center staff will provide information and assist as much as possible to anyone reporting to the TSC,” says Maj. Angel Blackwell of USAFE. Patient liaisons are available for calls 24 hours a day.
In addition to the TRICARE provided liaisons, USAFE has at least one Beneficiary Counseling and Assistance Officer and Debt Collection Assistance Officer in every Air Force military treatment facility (MTF) that can provide additional assistance. To find your local TRICARE Service Center and patient liaison, go online to http://www.tricare. mil/tma/EurasiaAfrica and click on the TSC link. To contact your ERMC liaison, go to http://ermc.amedd.army.mil/MTF to find a link to your local MTF. Once there, you will have access to information on how to contact your local liaison.
Medication is another area that diff ers from the American medical system. Many European doctors try homeopathic remedies to medicate their patients. If you are in pain or are not responding well to these treatments, stronger prescriptions are available. Talk with your doctor and patient liaison about your needs and concerns. Communication is the key while in the care of host nation physicians. Inform your medical team of prescriptions you currently use, ask your doctor questions and seek help with your patient liaison if a language barrier exists. You may find a difference in privacy, as well. Hospital rooms are double occupancy and may have no privacy screens between beds. Take appropriate clothing that allows you to remain semi-dressed during exams. Additionally, host nation doctors may not always have a chaperone when examining a patient of the opposite sex. If you feel uncomfortable, it is appropriate to ask for an additional person. Remember, you can say no. If you want to leave your room, make sure to get dressed. Most European patients will not stay in their gown all day. Also, if you anticipate leaving the ward, let the nursing staff know.
Anticipate any healthcare emergency you may need and learn the location of local clinics and hospitals both in close proximity and in the general area. Have a bag packed of key items you would need in an emergency, including a list of medications, local currency and toiletries. Host national hospitals do not provide personal effects or toiletries, but if you forget or are unable to bring those, the hospital will generally have a store where you can purchase them. For a complete list of what to bring, see the suggestions on the previous page.
Despite the differences between host nation and American healthcare, treatment standards are the same; you will be treated fairly and with a great deal of respect. As one patient of a German hospital put it, “The staff makes you feel like it’s a pleasure to assist you.”
What to bring for your hospital stay:
- Photo ID card
- Bilingual dictionary
- List of current medications
- Local currency
- Bottled water
- Notebook and pen
- Pajamas, slippers, robe
- Personal hygiene items/lipbalm
- Reading materials
- Snacks/hard candy
- Clothing for discharge
- Tablet device or laptop with earphones
Dental care for family of active duty
A variety of factors affect whether or not dental care is available for the family of active duty servicemembers stationed overseas. These factors include facility location, branch of service, deployments and staffing fluctuation. When space is not available, dependents must rely on host nation providers for their dental needs.
Through a voluntary dental program with TRICARE, military family members stationed in Europe can be sure they receive quality, affordable dental care. Low monthly premiums provide coverage for treatment from civilian providers at host nation facilities for most dental procedures like cleanings, sealants to even braces and dental implants. Although this TRICARE Dental Plan (TDP) in Europe is the same as that in the States, the European plan provides additional coverage and no cost shares for treatments like fillings and root canals. To locate a preferred provider, visit TricareDentalProgram.com, then click on “find a dentist.” You will be prompted to fill in your country, and a list will be provided of preferred providers in your area. Host nation dentists who qualify as preferred providers must speak English, be licensed in their country and meet a list of more than 15 other standards of quality. Also, senior dental officers on installations periodically visit the offices of preferred providers to assess the quality of care and clinic customer service.
For information about TDP enrollment, claims or covered benefi ts, visit their website or call customer service using one of the AT&T toll-free access operators listed at TricareDentalProgram.com.