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Do I need health insurance when traveling to Europe?

To sum it up...
  • With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most Americans are required to have a health insurance plan that meets certain minimum standards
  • A health insurance plan that covers medical expenses incurred while traveling to Europe is not required
  • You can purchase supplemental or additional insurance that will cover any medical expenses that you incur while abroad

While most Americans are required to have some type of health insurance, it is not necessary for that plan to cover expenses that may arise as the result of visiting a doctor, hospital, or clinic in Europe or elsewhere in the world.

One of the reasons why insurance plans are required is that having insurance may make it more likely for a person to visit the doctor for preventive care or treatment before a condition worsens. Given the low probability of medical expense while traveling abroad, it’s thought that most travelers likely will not need any type of coverage that extends to Europe.

Check out cheap health insurance quotes above before you jet set off to Europe and make sure you’re covered no matter where you go!

What type of insurance do Americans need?

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The level of medical insurance that meets standards outlined by the ACA can be provided by a private company or a government agency such as Medicaid or Medicare. Private plans are often obtained through an employer or other organization; Medicaid is for people who meet certain income requirements, and Medicare is for most Americans age 65 and above.

The ten basic benefits that all qualifying health insurance plans must include are:

  • Outpatient care
  • ER services
  • Hospital fees
  • Maternal and newborn care
  • Mental health services
  • The cost of prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative care
  • Lab fees
  • Preventive services
  • Pediatric care

What happens if you don’t have health insurance?

Unless you meet the qualifications for an exemption, you’ll be required to pay a fee if you don’t have adequate health insurance.

For most adults, that fee is $695.

The Marketplace

If you don’t have any other way to buy a health insurance plan, you can obtain coverage through the Marketplace. Open enrollment for a Marketplace plan typically begins in November. The Marketplace allows individuals to buy plans that would be similar to what they would be eligible for if obtaining coverage through an employer.

In the past, individuals buying their own insurance were faced with steep premiums. One of the intentions of the ACA is to lower costs associated with purchasing insurance independently.

Does your private insurance cover medical expenses when you’re traveling in Europe?

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In most cases, your medical insurance will probably not cover medical expenses when traveling overseas. Most of the American health insurance plans only cover expenses incurred while in the U.S.

If you have a limited type of Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, you might not even be able to receive coverage for expenses incurred when you’re traveling away from your home region.

For this reason, it can be a good idea to shop around while signing up for a plan. If you only make the occasional trip to a different region, this may not be a major point of concern, but frequent travelers might consider signing up for a plan that’s more comprehensive.

Check with Your Insurance Company First

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There is a possibility that your medical insurance does cover some level of care received while traveling. This coverage is limited in scope and may entail a high deductible, so you should contact your carrier to learn more about your individual policy.

You may be able to add on a supplemental package that could lower your out-of-pocket expenses if anything were to happen. Again, the type of plan available will depend on your insurance company, with some of them requiring a payment out of your pocket followed by reimbursement when you return to the U.S.

If you have trips to foreign countries planned well ahead of time, you may have to time to change your insurance plan to include provisions for coverage while abroad.

What about Medicare?

If you have Medicare, which most Americans over the age of 65 do have, medical expenses are not covered if you receive services in Europe. In some cases, hospital, doctor, and ambulance services may be covered if you’re located in the U.S. and a foreign hospital is closer to you than the nearest American hospital. However, this is only applicable to people near the Canadian or Mexican border and not those in Europe.

What should you do if you’d like to obtain more comprehensive insurance?

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There are a number of options available to you if you’d like to be covered by an insurance plan while traveling to Europe. The State Department maintains a list of companies that provide travel medical insurance.

These plans vary in terms of coverage, with some of them covering only catastrophic cases that involve air ambulance or medical evacuation. Other types of plans may cover some of the expenses incurred while visiting a doctor or a hospital in a minor situation. These may be wise to purchase if you’re planning on spending an extended amount of time abroad.

Most likely, your current plan does not cover medical expenses that arise while traveling in Europe. If something happens during your trip, you can receive care and pay for it out-of-pocket. If you would like to extend your coverage to protect yourself while on vacation, you can contact your current provider or explore your options for more comprehensive coverage.

If you want to change your healthcare plan or simply see what else is out there, enter your zip below to get free rates!

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