Prescriptions are pretty easy in the US. Most major pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, Walmart) will fill your prescription at any of their locations, and they are all over. You will need to plan ahead so that you can have your prescription transferred to a local pharmacy, this can sometimes take two visits. One to request the transfer, and one to pick-up the prescription.

If you are in Canada, you have the option of having your prescriptions sent to someone in the US and then having them trans-shipped to you in Canada. You can send them to a marina (see “How do you get mail on the Loop?“) or to any Canada Post office for pickup. We’ve had mixed results with Canada Post, so we suggest a marina or Harbor Host. We have found that most US pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies will not send prescriptions internationally. The other option is to get a three-month supply just before you cross the border.

Be sure to carry copies of your prescriptions with you (even if they are out of date) so that if you do go to a doctor, you can show them what you are taking. Especially for narcotic prescriptions, be absolutely sure they are in the original pharmacy package with the label, and again having a copy of your prescription as backup can help if you are ever questioned by customs.

Speaking of prescriptions, if you wear glasses, make sure that you carry an extra set of both regular and sunglasses in case they fall off and end up in Davey Jones Locker! Also, carry a copy of your prescription to get replacements in an emergency. Using the straps to hold your glasses around your neck to catch them if they fall off while leaning over tying up lines can save the day.

For routine medical and dental care, we would schedule appointments when we planned to make a trip home. There are urgent care clinics in almost every town for emergency care, and many locations will have dentists with whom you can make urgent care appointments. I had to have some minor surgery on our second Loop and was able to go to a walk-in clinic right near the marina to have it taken care of.

As far as medical care insurance is concerned, check with your insurance company. Most US insurers, including Medicare, will cover you anywhere in the US for emergency procedures. It is best to check with your insurance company for the procedure and notifications you need to make BEFORE you leave on your trip.

Medicare will not cover you internationally in most instances, and commercial insurance also has significant limitations. (Tom had to pay $35,000 out of pocket before they would release him from a hospital in England when he got sick). We ended up getting reimbursed by the Blue Cross, but it took several months.

A relatively inexpensive solution is to get a “Travel Medical Insurance Policy” from a company like GeoBlue (Blue Cross, Blue Shield), World Trips, Travelex, AIG, or AXA. These cover you when you are outside of the US (for example, in Canada and the Bahamas) and provide you with medical evacuation coverage to get you back to the US if needed. These plans are relatively inexpensive (typically a few hundred dollars for a couple traveling for a few months) and more than worth the cost. In Canada, there are many clinics and hospitals, so getting medical care is pretty straightforward. In the Bahamas, you have to pick and choose your medical provider and hospital.

Also, if you have pets on board that need medication, make sure that you carry and adequate supply especially when traveling in Canada and the Bahammas.

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