travel insurance
travel insurance

Does Your Health Insurance Plan Cover You While Abroad?

Picture this: You’re traveling overseas and you come down with a fever. You don’t speak the native language and you’re uncertain if your health plan covers medical care, like a visit to a doctor or hospital, abroad.

While this is probably the last scenario you want to consider while planning your trip, medical emergencies happen. But here’s the silver lining: You can easily find out what your insurance will cover while traveling abroad by asking your provider a few key questions. To determine what coverage you have, and what you’ll need when traveling overseas, start by asking these five questions.

1. What does my health plan cover overseas?

The level of medical coverage available for international travel can vary widely, depending on your domestic health care provider and plan. The State Department advises contacting your insurance company prior to your trip and inquiring about the specific overseas medical services that are included in your coverage.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also encourages travelers to ask what is excluded from their policy, such as risky activities. And depending on what is available to you, the CDC advises considering a supplemental policy. The State Department also recommends inquiring about specifics such as whether the plan includes coverage for emergency evacuations to the US and pre-existing medical conditions. You should also familiarize yourself with any out-of-pocket costs that you may encounter for overseas medical procedures or services.

2. What if I have Medicare?

Keep in mind that Medicare does not cover emergency medical services for travelers out of the country. There are some Medigap plans that can offer supplemental coverage but remember that there is a lifetime cap of $50,000 for foreign travel emergency coverage.

3. What about emergency medical evacuations?

Few domestic health insurance providers will pay to transport

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Your top questions about travel medical insurance answered

What exactly is the kind of protection travel medical insurance provides? In this article, Insurance Business explains how such policies work and what their benefits are by answering the top seven questions American travelers have with this type of coverage.

1. What does travel medical insurance cover?

Travel medical insurance helps cover the cost of emergency medical expenses during a trip. It follows a reimbursement-based model and pays out up to the plan limits. Policies come in two forms – standalone travel medical insurance, which can be purchased separately but often excludes trip interruption and baggage loss coverage, and emergency medical insurance as part of a comprehensive policy, which features a wider range of protection.

Coverage varies between insurance providers but typically includes the following:

  • Emergency medical bills: These include all hospital expenses related to the illness or injury. According to travel insurance marketplace InsureMyTrip, coverage starts at $50,000 and can top $2 million.
  • Emergency dental expenses: Visits to the dentist and other dental procedures may also be covered, with limits ranging from $100 to $500. In some instances, costs can be included in the overall medical expenses.
  • Medical evacuation: Commonly the most expensive bill, this includes the cost to transport a patient to a medical facility. The evacuation, however, must be ordered by a doctor to be covered by insurance. Limits start at $500,000. Some insurers offer unlimited coverage.
  • Accidental death or dismemberment: Policies include coverage for repatriation expenses, usually capped at $50,000.
  • 24-hour emergency assistance: Insurers, through its emergency assistance line, help policyholders find a doctor, especially if a language barrier is hampering medical emergency efforts.
  • Trip interruption: Often included only in comprehensive travel insurance policies, this pays out for costs incurred if a trip is cut short due to an illness
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