Many global citizens, leisure travelers and business travelers still do not have robust international health insurance protection while overseas. Employer-sponsored health plans which are limited in their international travel medical insurance and very rarely cover medical evacuation. Under employer-sponsored health plans, even if a sudden onset of illness or injury is covered, the services are usually rendered on a pay-and-claim basis.
This leaves travelers caught in unfortunate situations to absorb what could be prohibitively high costs up front, in order to receive vital medical care. Why is Travel Health Insurance so critical for international travel, Accessing healthcare in some parts of the world can be tricky. Some hospitals won’t provide any treatment—or won’t allow a patient to be discharged—until the hospital has received a guarantee of payment.
This guarantee is essentially what allows direct billing between the healthcare provider and the insurance company. In addition, traveling for medical attention—either to a place with higher quality medical care or to return home where your regular insurance is accepted—can be difficult. Medical evacuations are often too complicated to arrange yourself; in addition to finding a receiving facility, you also need to ensure you are working with a trusted transportation provider.
Most travel medical insurance includes a medical assistance benefit, which is critical. It gives you a vital lifeline in the form of 24/7/365 access to a company that will assure that you’re getting appropriate treatment locally, or if necessary arrange an evacuation for you with a creditable evacuation company. The assistance company will also be available to help with other travel related problems such as legal troubles, lost passports or credit cards, etc. Emergencies are rare but everyone should have a contingency plan.
Your travel health insurance plan can also come in handy when it comes to paying for a medical evacuation, which are at times accompanied by a six-figure price tag. If you have health insurance in the U.S., the first step is to check with your insurance company to establish what kind of coverage you have. You should make sure your plan includes benefits for medical expenses incurred internationally, if medical evacuations are covered and the extent of that coverage.