On getting sick in a foreign country
Getting sick is bad enough, but getting sick in another country is even worse. Trust me, I lived through that experience twice, most recently in Switzerland and once in Spain. I wish I had checked with my insurance before I left but they do cover me abroad. If your insurance doesn't cover you, I do recommend buying a travel insurance plan. When I got sick in Spain, I was actually on a study abroad program with UNC and UNC required us to get health insurance abroad so I didn't have to pay when I went to the hospital. However, the doctor I went to in Switzerland is going to be billed as out-of -network. Your insurance website probably has a list of in-network doctors. I checked the directory of local doctors after I got back and it wouldn't have helped me anyway as I was in Luzern, Switzerland and they didn't have any in-network doctors in Luzern.
I found many useful tools on the Blue Cross website, including the directory of local doctors and a search tool for US equivalents of drugs in other countries. Switzerland was extra hard for me because I only speak English and Spanish and their drugs were in German. Due to my German illiteracy, I actually ended up chewing an effervescent tablet LOL.
The international claim form is also found on your insurance website. It is worth printing one out and bringing it on your trip, but of course I didn't do that. You will need to save every receipt from your doctor visit as all proper documents must be submitted to your insurance. I ended up having to pay $181 for my office visit in Luzern, including drugs, so obviously I want that back. BCBS has an online wizard on the website to help you submit the claim. I have no idea the process after submitting the claim because their customer service is only open M-F 8-5 pm.
Don't be scared of going to the doctor abroad. You do what you have to do. I felt very ill on Christmas Eve and I have no regrets going to the doctor in Switzerland on the morning of Christmas Day. I walked to 800 feet from my hotel to Permanence MedCenter in the Luzern train station. I believe it is open everyday from 7 am - 11 pm, including holidays. In my experience, medicine is the same everywhere in the world. All the drugs are the same as what we have in the U.S. BCBS should be reimbursing me for this visit. And without going, I never would have gotten well and I had to go to Italy the next day. Doctors do speak English. I will say that as an American woman alone in a foreign country, you will get unwanted attention from men. My Swiss doctor gave me his phone number on a card, which is not appropriate. I even asked local Swiss people at my hotel reception, and they said that is not normal and men should know how to behave.