For travelers planning a trip outside the United States, researching how medical care works in the country you are visiting and whether your domestic health insurance coverage is portable is critical. Why? If your domestic health insurance policy doesn’t work in the country you are visiting and you require emergency medical care, you may be on the hook for a big hospital bill. That’s why many travelers seek proper medical travel insurance to have proper coverage when abroad. The right travel insurance can also help you find the best doctors or hospitals in the area you are visiting and even arrange for a medically-approved evacuation back home for further care.
For those who are unsure where to begin researching their medical needs, here’s some good questions travelers can answer before going on that next trip.
What coverage do I have?
Coverage can vary depending on domestic health care provider and plan. Depending on your domestic healthcare provider, specific plan and area of travel, medical coverage can vary widely:
“In Network” coverage from some providers and plans in certain areas overseas
Limited coverage for other providers, regardless of where you are traveling
No coverage at all
Coverage gaps and deficiencies can be addressed with the purchase of travel insurance. Travelers should also be aware of the following:
Deductibles: the amount a patient must pay for covered services before insurance will kick in
Co-insurance: the amount a patient is responsible of a covered healthcare service
Co-payments: a set amount owed for a covered healthcare service
RELATED: Wall Street Journal recently spoke with InsureMyTrip travel experts to gain insight on the topic of medical care while traveling and the options available for travelers.
What if I have Medicare?
Medicare typically does not cover the cost of emergency medical services for any travelers while out of the country. There are some Medigap options that offer supplemental coverage but there is a cap of coverage.
What if I need to be medically evacuated?
Emergency evacuations can be very experience, sometimes costing more than $100,000. It is unlikely that a domestic health insurance provider will foot the bill to transport sick or injured patients back to the United States for further care. Travel insurance does offer coverage for emergency medical evacuation.
What type of travel insurance policy do I need?
If you are concerned about the quality of medical care and coverage, travel insurance is a good option. Talk to a licensed travel insurance agent at InsureMyTrip to learn what coverage is right for you.
Most travel insurance providers offer two different types of insurance plans that provide emergency medical coverage outside the US:
Comprehensive travel insurance — offers the most protection for travelers. It provides a variety of benefits including trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation, emergency medical coverage, 24/7 emergency assistance, and baggage protection.
Example: For a $5,000 two week vacation to Aruba, a comprehensive travel insurance plan will cost a couple in their 50s around $200. This includes a $50,000 medical limit, $250,000 for medical evacuation in addition to trip cancellation coverage.
Travel medical insurance — provides emergency medical coverage, 24/7 emergency assistance, and emergency medical evacuation coverage. Trip cancellation is typically not included.
Example: For the same trip to Aruba, a travel medical insurance plan will cost a couple in their 50s around $80. This includes a $50,000 medical limit with a $250 deductible and $500,000 medical evacuation.
How it helps
Both comprehensive and travel medical insurance plans are a valued supplement while traveling overseas, offsetting possible coverage gaps evident in some domestic health insurance plans including:
Emergency medical care: when a traveler requires a doctor or hospital visit when traveling abroad.
Emergency evacuation: when a traveler requires transportation to another medical facility or back home for further care.
24/7 emergency assistance: when a traveler needs help with a medical-or-safety-related issue, needs to find a doctor or hospital, or requires translation services.
Some travel insurance policies also cover pre-existing medical conditions. To learn more, visit the learn section on InsureMyTrip.
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