Q: I am a patient of kidney dialysis. Are there facilities for me to take these treatments in Europe and Asia? What are the costs? Will my medical benefits cover these charges?
A: There are dialysis facilities that accept what are called transient patients.
Arrangements, which involve sending medical records ahead, should be made as early as possible, and no less than a month ahead, those knowledgeable about the field say. According to Barbara Shaw, patient travel coordinator for the National Medical Care chain of dialysis centers, Medicare does not cover dialysis outside the United States.
Patients with private insurance may have to pay for treatments out of pocket -- prices range from $150 to $500 depending on location and type of treatment -- and then be reimbursed by their insurer, she said.
A 46-page booklet called "The List of Dialysis Centers Accepting Transient Patients," contains about 1,800 listings in the United States and in 59 countries abroad. It is published each July by Dialysis and Transplantation and is available from Creative Age Publishing, 7628 Densmore Ave., Van Nuys, Calif. 91406; telephone (818) 782-7328. The cost is $8 ($11 if ordered from outside the United States).
A listing of transient dialysis centers throughout Europe, "Eurodial," about 120 pages long, is available free of charge from Elisabeth Simon, International Dialysis Organization, 3 Rue Mazagran, 69007 Lyons, France; telephone (33) 220.127.116.11.
* National Medical Care, Dialysis Services Division, 1601 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Mass. 02154; telephone (800) 634-6254. It operates about 360 dialysis units in the United States, Puerto Rico, Portugal and Madrid. If the company has a center where patients are traveling, the company will make arrangements; otherwise patients will be directed to a center at no charge, but must make their own appointments.
There are travel agencies knowledgeable about dialysis patients' needs. They can be a source of information and possibly handle the complicated arrangements for dialysis:
* U.S. Travel, 11 E. 44th St., New York, N.Y. 10017; telephone (800) 487-8787 or (212) 883-5687. Mary Ann Hamm will arrange dialysis for travel clients at no charge beyond expenses. For non-clients, the charge is $100 plus expenses.
* Dialysis Travel Services, 9301 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, Ariz.; telephone (800) 832-5445. It also makes appointments for dialysis for its clients; arrangements for non-clients are $50 and up.
* Dialysis at Sea Cruises, 611 Barry Place, Indian Rock Beach, Fla. 34635; telephone (800) 544-7604. It offers cruises for dialysis patients, and will make dialysis appointments on land for its cruise or other travel clients. For others, there is a charge of $25 to $50 an appointment.
* Journeys on Dialysis, 65 E. India Row, Suite 22G, Boston, Mass. 02110; (800) 622 0446 or (617) 523 0446. This company specializes in cruises for those on dialysis and will supply information on centers abroad -- but not make appointments -- for non-clients.
Q: I understand there is a hydrofoil that runs between Vienna and Budapest. If so, does it run in mid-April?
A: The hydrofoil service, called the Intercity Express, runs from Austria to Budapest April 4, 11, 17 and 19, leaving at 8:10 a.m. and arriving at 12:30 p.m. From April 24 to Sept. 18, it runs daily. The cost is $69 one way, $104 round trip. Places sell out two to three months ahead, according to the line's U.S. office, so it is vital to reserve soon. Write Danube Cruises Austria, 241 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33334; telephone (800) 327-8223.