Medical problems do happen and the longer you are on the road, the more likely it will happen to you. We had been lucky. Other than an occasional serious cough or cold and one trip to an emergency room for a cut thumb, nothing major had happened—until it happened!
A Personal Story… It happened to us—a real medical emergency—and we were in a totally strange area. We just pulled into New Bern, North Carolina, had a campground reserved for three nights, and were going to be a tourist there. It’s what we do.
Sandy was not feeling well (rare) but we went out for a quick dinner that first night. The next day, she was still feeling just fair. The third morning she said maybe she should see a doctor. You should note that when either one of us says that, we go—it’s past time for discussion or home remedies.
The campground told us about a walk-in medical clinic (20 minutes away) that took us right in, checked her, and suggested she go to the emergency room. We did. She checked in, they ran tests, and diagnosed
appendicitis—about to rupture! Within a couple of hours, she was in surgery and a 45-minute procedure turned into a 2.5-hour major surgery due to the contamination. Two days later, she was home, we had an
extended stay in that campground for another week, and she was pronounced fit to travel with minor restrictions.
The campground owners, medical staff, everyone, were totally helpful, professional, and caring for two total strangers literally passing through. We will always be grateful for that.
There was nothing we could have done to actively prepare for that experience. It was truly an emergency. We did, however, consider it a true “test” of our lifestyle and the test was positive. Everything, from the local people’s reaction and help to the insurance claims, was handled efficiently. The fact that we traveled full-time in our motorhome never entered the picture except to provide a few smiles, an occasional question, and some lively conversation.
We meander. Traveling over the United States (all the states except Hawaii in the RV) and Canada has presented us with an occasional medical “situation” and therefore, paying for the resulting treatment.
First, the “care.” We have been taken care of perfectly everywhere it was needed. I have zero complaints. We have gotten in where needed, tests when called for, facilities when necessary, and treated with the utmost respect by everyone. I am thankful for that.
We are now both on Medicare, carry a well-known secondary insurance, and TriCare for Life (I am retired military) as a third level coverage. To date, our insurance has come through with payments or reimbursements as required. I am thankful for that, too.
[Author Note… Please don’t e-mail me with insurance questions. I am not capable nor do I have the knowledge to answer. Sorry.]
Fulltimers will at some point experience dental problems. Dental facilities seem to be more focused on long-range fixed appointments than medical clinics. You rarely see a walk-in dental clinic. However, you can get in for emergencies. Even so, it may take a day or two.
A Personal Story… We happen to be in Gilroy, California (the garlic capitol) one summer, having dinner, and I broke a tooth. I am a member of an e-mail group for Monaco owners so, that evening, I posted a message asking if anyone had knowledge of a dentist near Gilroy.
A fellow replied immediately and recommended a wonderful dentist in San Jose (about 40 miles from us). The next day I called, they got me right in, and that dentist did a temporary crown that lasted about six months—long enough for us to return to our regular dentist (one we used when we permanently lived in a house).
Interestingly, I had the same experience (different tooth and city) the following year, too.
Since I do not have dental insurance, this work called for a full payment before we left the office. They took a credit card. No problem. Actually, my experience was the same as if I had still been living in a house. The only difference being that I needed to locate a dentist that would take me in.
Mexico and Dentistry
We have talked with numerous RVers who get their dental work done across the border in Mexico. Many have told us they were happy with the quality of the dental work, the price was low, the facilities were sparkling clean and perfect. We have not experienced this and therefore, cannot judge or speak to it. I just mention it here as it is not uncommon among RVers staying close to the Mexican border.
During our seminars (especially our Fulltiming seminars), we are often questioned about medical or dental emergencies and how to deal with them since we travel all the time. I know this is a legitimate concern to those thinking about fulltiming and especially the “older” crowd (and rightfully so). We definitely belong to that “older” crowd and it was also a concern for us—but no more.
We have also had minor medical situations while in Canada and these, too, were handled professionally and efficiently. One was a medical-clinic visit for a pretty serious cold/cough, one was an emergency room visit that turned out to be not serious, and the third was for a prescription. I ran short of one prescription and was still in Canada for another week or so. I took my prescription bottle into a Canadian pharmacy, showed them the data on the bottle (it was current and noted that I had refills coming).
The pharmacist gave me a 10-day supply of my prescription to tide me over. It worked. To date, there have been no problems whatsoever with getting any kind of medical care (short or long term). The people, facilities, access, costs, and quality of care have been excellent and I would go back to any of them.