Health Insurance Coverage for Travel
If you plan to travel outside of the United States, check with your health insurance to see if it covers hospital or medical costs in other countries.
Many health insurance plans, including Medicare, do not pay medical costs outside of the United States.
However, you can buy health insurance coverage for travel, commonly known as travel medical insurance, to cover you on your trip.
Travel medical insurance is important because many foreign doctors and hospitals require cash payment and may refuse to treat you if you are uninsured.
Also, some countries require that tourists have accident or travel medical insurance.
Choosing Travel Medical Insurance
Travel medical insurance coverage varies widely, so you should understand what a policy does and does not cover.
The U.S. Department of State suggests asking the following questions:
- Does the policy cover preexisting conditions?
- Does the policy require pre-authorizations or second opinions before you can receive emergency treatment?
- Does the insurance company have a 24-hour physician-backed support center?
- Does the policy cover moving you to the nearest adequate medical facility or returning you to the United States (medical evacuation) for treatment, if needed?
- Does the policy cover injuries caused by high-risk activities, such as mountain climbing or paragliding
- Does the insurance company guarantee medical payments outside of the United States. and will the company directly pay foreign hospitals and doctors?
Even if you find out that your health insurance plan does cover “customary and reasonable” hospital costs outside of the United States, most plans don’t cover the cost to return you to the United States for treatment, if needed.
This medical evacuation can cost $10,000.00 and up. Coverage for medical evacuation is particularly important if you are traveling to remote areas or on a cruise ship. You can purchase separate medical evacuation insurance, if necessary.
Another thing to look for in a travel medical insurance policy (or your regular health insurance) is coverage for repatriation, that is, the cost of returning your body to the United States if you die in another country.
This coverage can save your family many dollars and headaches.
Travel medical insurance is different from travel insurance to cover the cost of things such as lost baggage and canceled flights.
Although some travel insurance may include medical coverage, you should have enough coverage.