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Key Health Insurance coverage questions for travelers
Topic Overview: Health issues have no borders, no boundaries and certainly won’t stay at bay just because you’re on the trip of a lifetime. So before you embark on your journey, have a clear understanding of what your health insurance will cover, or won’t, so you can explore supplemental coverage options.
1. I’m traveling overseas, what should I expect my health plan to cover?
The level of medical coverage available for international travel can vary widely, depending on your domestic health care provider and plan. But keep in mind that most regular health insurance plans provide partial or no coverage while you are traveling in another country. Countries with universal health care might assist with minor needs, but in the event of major or ongoing medical expenses, they would cease to help, and they would never pay to help with the return trip home. Contact your insurance company prior to your trip and inquire about the specific medical services included in your coverage when overseas.
2. I have Medicare – what kind of protection do I have when traveling?
If you are traveling within the United States, your Medicare coverage travels with you. The rules change when overseas though. Medicare does not cover emergency medical service for travelers out of the country, so travelers should explore supplemental coverage that stretches for foreign travel.
3. What about a medical emergency?
Don’t assume your health insurance provider will pay to transport you back to the United States if overseas or back to your home medical facility if traveling domestically. If you're visiting a place that's isolated or with poor quality healthcare, a supplemental evacuation insurance plan can be very necessary and very expensive. In fact, average air ambulance bills can easily soar more than $40,000.
4. What type of medical coverage is right for me and my trip?
Take stock of your travel plans, how long you will be gone, and what experiences you possibly expect to find yourself in. For those who are travelling for long periods of a month or more, you may wish to look into dedicated travel medical plans. For the vast majority of trips taken that are a few weeks or less, travel protection plans typically package medical benefits along with other key travel benefits and services.
As far as activities, if your adventures will find you participating in things like cliff jumping or mountain climbing, check for any exclusions related to those activities. Just remember that even if you only plan to find warm sand, cold drinks and a lounge chair, medical bills can add up quickly for even minor issues. Be sure you are aware how far your medical coverage extends.
5. How do I file a claim?
Many plans also include access to experts to help navigate the process and provide guidance to access care resources while you’re away. You’ll want to specifically talk to your insurance provider about what kind of documentation you need to submit and when. For starters, hold on to your receipts and keep tabs on your hospital records. But don’t wait to call your insurance provider until you’re ready to make a claim.
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