Travelling is a part of our lives that brings out a free spirit within us. The best trips are those that allow you to feel liberated and free. While most trips go without any major problems, accidents can and do happen. While you can’t plan for all problems, you can fully prepare yourself by making sure you are covered by sufficient health insurance.
International medical travel and evacuation health insurance falls into that category. If you’re travelling abroad, do you know if your current health plan will cover you? Employee-sponsored or private policies may cover your care abroad, but probably only for an emergency. Medicare is even stricter in coverage abroad.
Thankfully, travel and medical evacuation health insurance will help you with covering the slack in your current health insurance plan.
What is Travel Medical Insurance?
Travel medical insurance covers the gaps in your regular medical insurance while you’re abroad.
Many standard insurance policies will only cover you for emergencies when travelling. Travel medical insurance supplements your current health plan, covering trips to foreign doctors or hospitals. Some even cover events such as medical repatriation, emergency reunion, and a return of remains.
It’s important to know that travel medical insurance is very different from travel insurance. Travel insurance is there to cover a trip cancellation, and to protect your possessions while abroad. It will not cover you in the event of a medical emergency. Both are good to have for their own reasons, but make sure you know the difference.
What to Look For in a Travel Insurance Policy
There are many different factors to look at when shopping for a TIP. One important point to know is that many TIPs do not cover pre-existing conditions. Nationwide’s TIP plan does cover “unexpected recurrence of a pre-existing condition.” If that’s an issue for you.
Most insurers define a pre-existing condition as any ailment in the last six months to three years before you bought the TIP. Diagnosis or treatment of the ailment doesn’t have to occur for an insurer to deem it pre-existing. If you sought medical attention for it in that period, it counts.
Cost is another issue. According to Consumer Reports, a TIP could be anywhere from $15 to $600 a week. Forbes puts the price at five percent to eight percent of the cost of your trip. These differences show that it’s good to shop around.
Pre-existing conditions, age, and duration of the plan will affect the cost, as well as add-ons like medical evacuation.
Many plans work on a reimbursement basis. If you’re overseas, it’s likely you’ll pay up front for a doctor or hospital visit. Even if you do have a TIP, bring a large-limit credit card. Make sure you get detailed records of your treatment in order to get reimbursed later.
When looking at a TIP, consider these questions:
- Are pre-existing conditions covered?
- What exclusions does the TIP have?
- Are re-authorized treatments or services required?
- What deductibles or co-payments does the plan have?
- Is up-front payment required?
- What records do I need for reimbursement?
Look beyond the well-known insurers during your search. You can find decent coverage through the smaller providers as well. That includes companies like GeoBlue, Global Alert, InsureMyTrip, and RoamRight are good places to compare.
Consider getting a TIP if you travel and are on Medicare. Medicare does not cover doctor or hospital visits abroad, even emergencies. Some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans might offer coverage, but even they often have exclusions.
What is Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance?
EMEI covers the cost of ground or air transport to the nearest hospital. If the required hospital is hundreds or even thousands of miles away, the cost to you could be enormous. As emergency transport is often out-of-plan, an EMEI might save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your TIP doesn’t cover an emergency medical evac, consider an EMEI. Many of the providers mentioned earlier offer it.
If you plan on being active during your trip, it is highly recommended that you look into covering all aspects of your health insurance through a travel and medical evacuation policy. This is especially true if you are far away from a proper hospital that can offer sufficient treatment. You never know what can happen abroad so it is often best to be safe than sorry.
Written by guest blogger Susie King.