Health & Safety

Preparing for the Worst: Medical Evacuation

A majority of students will enjoy their education with only minor medical setbacks; however, being prepared for the worst case scenario certainly paid off for Nancy Mason and her daughter Annelise Poda, a student at the University of Southern California. After a skateboarding accident, Annelise found herself facing surgery in an emergency room – 360 miles away from home.

“It’s hard when you can’t do anything for yourself and you’re at school. Your friends don’t really understand,” said Annelise.

Mason, a physician, was making arrangements to be at her child’s bedside when she remembered her medical evacuation membership with MedjetAssist. In less than 12 hours a transport team picked up Annelise at the LA Medical Center and transported her to Stanford Hospital. The entire cost of the evacuation was paid for in one low annual membership fee.

Most students will never suffer an illness or injury severe enough to require surgery or weeks of care. But when it does happen, more parents are relying on services like MedjetAssist to get students home. Medjet is a membership program that arranges to transport its members back to any hospital of their choice if hospitalized more than 150 miles from home.

Many schools require special health insurance for students studying abroad, and this usually includes some form of medical evacuation. Typical health policies only cover a medical evacuation when it’s deemed “medically necessary” – only if the current location is incapable of completing the care. Even when approved for medical evacuation, it often means getting the student to the closest facility deemed “appropriate” by the insurer.

This is not the case with Medjet. The difference can be big – especially while traveling abroad. Eileen Shirk’s Spring Break trip to Acapulco was going great until she was in a car accident. Shirk, whose family had a Medjet membership, was transported home to Toledo, OH within a couple of days. One of her friends also involved in the accident was not a member of Medjet. He landed in a hospital in Texas, nearly 1,000 miles away from his home in Chicago.

Medjet memberships through the University Media Connection Plan costs $235 for an annual membership (normally $250). Domestic and Collegiate plans are also available online at

Differentiating between these different types of services can be difficult. Consider these important factors when looking at evacuation companies like MedjetAssist:

  • Decision Making – If your student is hospitalized, who makes the decision as to whether or not they are evacuated? Is the decision left up to you, a foreign doctor, or an insurance company?

  • Hospital of Choice – Make sure you have the power to choose which facility will be the final destination. Beware of language that includes “nearby adequate facilities.” Are there any foreseen circumstances where your student may not make it home?

  • Exclusions – Many insurance policies will include exclusions in regards to the student’s activities (diving, mountain climbing, biking, professional athletic events, motor racing, etc). Does the program fit your student’s lifestyle?

  • Maximum Limit – Keep in mind that a medical transport is very expensive. What cost limitations are in place that may still leave you with part of the bill?

In addition to the evacuation and repatriation services, a standard Medjet membership includes 24/7 medical monitoring/consultation, emergency message relay, translation assistance, medical and legal referrals, and travel security information.

To learn more about Medjet and receive the special pricing through University Parent Media visit You may also view the video below, or call 1-800-527-7478 for more information.

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