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Studying Abroad with Remicade

Wed, September 15, 2021 1:15 PM

Hi, I am planning to study in Japan for at least 6 months sometime in the future. I am on remicade every 8 weeks. I have been on remicade for about 11 years and it has helped me tremendously. I do not think it would be worth taking the risk of discontinuing remicade and starting a more easily transported medication.

Does anyone know what steps I can take to be able to study there while continuing my medication? I've talked to my doctor, they don't have much information but will send documents to whomever they need there. The school doesn't have much information either. Do I need to find a doctor in Japan? Are there any other resources for overseas travel with a chronic illness that requires medications such as this?

Thank you

FPO cjstewart753
Joined Sep 15, 2021

Sat, October 02, 2021 11:21 PM

Reply posted for cjstewart753.

I'm not sure if this will be helpful since it's a different country but I also really struggled to find information when I studied abroad and my doctor didn't know anything either so I hope this is at least somewhat useful. I studied abroad in Spain while on remicade but only for about 3 months so I only needed one infusion. The travel insurance my school (college of charleston) provided covered some of it but my parents still ended up paying $500 I think. And I think the insurance was through assist america so maybe look into that. And I origionally paid the full amount and then submitted the receipt to insurance after and they paid back all but $500. I know that's still a lot of monty though so I would see if you can find out what insurance you'll have access to. Before going I looked up doctors where I would be living and had my sister's spanish teacher call ahead of time and set up an appointment. If you are studying abroad there I'm sure there will be some professor that speaks English and Japonese if you don't speak Japonese that can help you with this. I brought papers from my doctor in the US just saying I have crohns and am on remicade and the dosage but they didn't really need it except to know the dosage. I saw the doctor and he wrote the prescription without doing any kind of exam and then scheduled me an appointment for the infusion. 

After college I lived in Spain for two school years teaching English and health insurance was provided through the job. The first year year the insurance company (Mapfre) covered remicade and the second year they used a different company (Asisa) and that one did not cover it. I went to the origional company and asked about getting my own policy through them but since it wasn't through the job they said they wouldn't cover a pre-existing condition. So I don't think a company there would cover it but you could look into it.

Also in my experience any doctor could write a remicade prescription, not just a GI. The wait to get into a GI was too long the two years I was working there so I just went to a regular doctor and told them I had crohn's and was on remicade and they wrote me a prescription no problem. And then I just had to ask around a lot about where to actually get the infusion. Like I didn't get a clear answer from the doctor and had to ask reception and one hospital had an international office with someone who spoke English that told me where to go but in the other place I just talked to reception. 

The year that remicade wasn't covered at all I had to pay for it once and it was about $1,800. Then I got an infusion while home for christmas and while I was there I got an extra dose to take with me. I really needed two but insurance at the last minute said they could only give me one (after saying they could give me two origionally) and then I took it in my carry on in bubble rap without any issues and kept it in a safe, room temperature place until I needed the infusion and then took it to the hospital. And then waited an extra month until I was back in the US to get my next infusion which ended up being fine but I wouldn't recommend taking the risk.

So overall I would check into the travel insurance you're going to get and also talk to your insurance in the US about bringing doses with you. And just make sure to really stay on top of everything and definitely don't wait until the last minute bc you don't want to have you get your infustion late. But studying abroad was the best experience of my life and even though it was made more complicated by all this it's still definitely possible and I would highly recommend doing it!!

FPO cspan29
Joined Oct 2, 2021

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