Travel health insurance is a good idea if you plan to travel abroad, as not all U.S. health insurance is accepted in other countries. Additionally, some U.S. health insurance providers will not pay for services provided outside of the United States. Travel health insurance will give you the peace of mind to know you are covered if you become sick or have an accident in a foreign country.
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Even if your insurance company will pay for emergency medical treatment outside of the United States, it still may not cover your every expense. Some travel destinations have poor health care, and most U.S. health insurance providers will not pay for transportation to a country with sufficient medical care. Some countries require travelers to show proof of adequate health insurance before being granted a visa to enter the country.
What will my health insurance cover during travel?
Most insurance companies will cover some costs associated with health issues that arise while you are travelling. Such services may include doctor’s visits and hospitalizations. However, your health insurance policy may define the amount they will cover as “usual, customary, and reasonable.”
This means that if your provider deems that your treatment is unusual, unconventional, or unreasonable, then they will deny your claim. This language is used to keep insurance companies from being billed for unnecessary medical treatments, such as plastic surgery, performed outside of the jurisdiction of medical boards and U.S. law. It however, could leave you with some very expensive foreign medical bills.
Traveler’s insurance will cover doctor’s bills, hospital stays and other costs associated with emergency medical assistance. Some specialist operations such as search-and-rescue or medical evacuation can be billed to you just as the use of an ambulance would require payment. Traveler’s insurance will cover those costs beyond what your health insurance will cover.
Check with your health insurance provider first before travelling to find out what will and won’t be covered while abroad. If you cannot receive full coverage while travelling outside of the country from your insurance provider, then you need to get traveler’s insurance.
Is traveler’s insurance needed in the US?
You may find that your health insurance provider might not cover medical expenses accrued outside of your state, let alone outside of the country. If your health insurance coverage is a managed care plan, you might not be covered if you visit any provider that is not part of the approved network; or, you might be covered at a greatly reduced rate.
Traveler’s insurance is a good investment even when travelling within the United States if your current health insurance will not provide enough coverage.
What does traveler’s insurance cover that health insurance does not?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, some airlines have expensive requirements for travelers who are seriously ill. Some require that the ill traveler be transported on a stretcher that takes up about ten seats on an average plane; other requirements might include being accompanied by a doctor whose roundtrip ticket must also be purchased.
Emergency travel costs for ailing travelers can quickly add up to over ten thousand dollars. Most health insurances will not cover these emergency travel costs, but travel health insurance will. Travel health insurance will cover costs for emergency transportation associated with medical issues. If the ill traveler is being returned to his or her home country, then it is called repatriation.
Traveler’s health insurance will also cover the transportation costs to return the body of a traveler who has died to that person’s home country. In addition, a form of repatriation, returning a body to a home country requires many costs and red tape that would be a burden to grieving loved ones.
How much does traveler’s insurance cost?
Traveler’s insurance rates vary depending on your destination, your age, overall health, and similar factors. Some companies charge a percentage of the trip costs, such as 10% of the total trip expenses; others have a set premium based on your personal factors.
Generally, just the emergency health coverage portion is very inexpensive unless you are already in poor health or you are travelling to a dangerous destination. Regardless of cost, traveler’s insurance will always be more inexpensive than the out-of-pocket expense of covering a foreign illness or accident yourself.
What are some destinations that require traveler’s insurance?
Many European countries require those applying for visas to also present documentation showing proof of sufficient medical coverage; that sufficient coverage includes covering repatriation costs as well as typical doctor’s or hospital bills. Many of these 26 countries, called the Schengen countries, have government-supplied healthcare for its citizens. Travelers will not be able to receive medical assistance without coverage or upfront payment.
The Centers for Disease Control Traveler’s site, recommends that all travelers, no matter the destination, maintain adequate health insurance and medical evacuation insurance while outside of the United States.
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