One question that keeps coming up is, how do we handle health care as full-time travelers?
This was a huge consideration for us before we made the choice to do this. Both of us have health challenges that need to be monitored on a regular basis, and medications we need to have all the time. How will we be seen on a regular basis? How will we get our periodic medications? What if we get sick? What if we need to be hospitalized?
One huge benefit in our case is that we are both retired Navy, and we are both disabled vets. Jan’s primary caredoctor is at the VA at American Lake, WA and mine is at the VA at Seattle, WA.
We have a face to face appointment with our doctors and specialists once a year when we go to Washington to visit family and friends. This has worked out extremely well. Our annual physicals, associated clinical and specialist referrals, medication renewals, and any other treatment needed occurs at that time.
When traveling, we have open access to messaging with our doctors. Specialist clinics keep tabs on us. I get my periodic labs referred to local or VA labs wherever we are. The VA pharmacist calls me about my labs and progress every three months. (Jan thinks she is a fantastic patient advocate.)
If we get sick, which both of us have been, we go to an Urgent Care, VA urgent care, or even a hospital, if needed, anywhere we are. If ordered by the VA, they take care of all costs. If not VA, we are both on Medicare and military retired health care as a backup. Sometimes we have a small co-pay, but most times it’s all covered.
Like most folks, our routine medications come as a 90 day quantity, and in our case they are mailed by the VA pharmacy in Seattle. Initially were puzzled over how we would receive them, as everything we read stated that the VA would only send them to our home of record. The fact is, you can call the pharmacy directly and provide a temporary change of address and they will mail the medications there. It usually takes 7-10 days to receive them. If it has been necessary to be seen locally, we can go to approved local pharmacies, of which there are many.
We also pick up some medications in Los Algodones, Mexico when we are wintering in Quartzsite, AZ. When it appeared that some medications may see restrictions or limited supply last year, we stocked up in Mexico.
Illness on the Road
What if we get cut, break something, get Covid, or just feel sick? As noted above, we visit local medical facilities, then coordinate treatment and medications through our home VA doctor, or have billing under Medicare or Tricare.
This is an easy one. We get all of our dental care at the same dental clinic in Los Algodones (which has the nickname “Molar City”.) . A thorough cleaning: $40. Exam, x-ray, and cleaning: $90. Fillings and other treatment are very inexpensive. The dentist and her staff are all very well trained, caring and efficient. The equipment is often better than at US dental offices we have used over the years. Even better, we often get appointments same day or within a week.
We get a full exam in November, plus any treatment, then another cleaning before we leave in April. This has worked out really well for us.
If a dental emergency arises while traveling, we do what everyone does, we go to a local dentist and get treatment. Staying Healthy
The health agenda is to do all we can to stay healthy. Modern foods, even vegetables, are not the same quality as they were 50 to 70 years ago. This goes way beyond GMO. Vegetables today are bred to mature fast, travel long distances, and withstand bruising. Most meat, as we already know is full of hormones and antibiotics. In both instances, we are getting more bad stuff, and less good stuff in our food.
To offset these deficiencies, it is necessary to add supplements to our diet. This is where we all get seriously confused! How do we know which vitamins and supplements are good, and which ones have little to no benefit? Due to massive ad campaigns, it’s almost impossible!
One guide that helps is to steer toward natural ingredients. Do some serious and thorough research, because “natural” isn’t always natural, and some have almost no benefit for your body. Again, massive marketing campaigns muddy the water.
The best choice is to try supplements from several sources. See how you feel after 30 days. Remember, what works for one person may not give the same results for you. The human body is fickle, and that is why medicine is call a “practice”.
Over the years we have tried multiple sources, from the grocery store, military supply, to health food store, to Network Marketing companies. I think we’ve tried most of them!
Our final choice to support our wellness was vitamins and essential oils from doTERRA. We have had some very effective results, and we feel really healthy. Jan became a Wellness Advocate a couple years ago. If you would like to ask some questions about our choice of doTERRA, just ask.
Health issues for full-time travelers can be both simple and complicated. Depending on current health insurance, Medicare eligibility, and VA eligibility, the cost of health care can be either a nightmare or a piece of cake.
There are people in this community too young for Social Security and Medicare, having to work a wide variety of temporary jobs just to keep things going. Those who only have Social Security and Medicare make ends meet, but barely. Some continue to work remotely full time. Some have additional income streams from investments, other retirement, disability, or savings to live quite comfortably.
We are certainly blessed by family and friends who are very happy to receive our meds and other packages for us when we are arriving for a planned visit. At times, we seem to turn a spot on their guest room floor into a local delivery depot.
Careful planning is the only way to live successfully in the RV lifestyle.