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Travel Medical & International Health Insurance

Many international travelers do not have appropriate insurance protection. Government sponsored health programs such as Medicare almost never cover care received in a foreign country. Employer-sponsored health plans often limit overseas coverage to emergency care only (and the burden will be on you to prove it's an emergency). Emergency medical evacuation is almost never covered. Even if you're traveling on business, you may have significant gaps in your coverage.

Why is Travel Health insurance so critical for international travel?

Obtaining 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. Such guarantees are commonly provided by travel insurers, in conjunction with assistance providers, but rarely by other insurers or managed care plans. This means you'll have to pay in advance, perhaps as much as tens of thousands of dollars, with your credit card. Of course, for this to work the hospital must accept foreign credit cards and your card must have a sufficient credit limit.

In addition, remember that leaving your destination—for a place with higher quality medical care or to return home where your regular insurance is accepted—can be difficult. Medical evacuations are tricky to arrange and there are some air ambulance providers who should be avoided. Worse, local authorities may have financial ties to certain evacuation companies. The solution? Most travel insurance includes a medical assistance benefit, which is critical. It gives you 24/7/365 access to a company that will arrange an evacuation for you with a creditable evacuation company--or, through their medical personnel, can help assure that you're getting appropriate treatment locally. 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.

Assess Your Personal Health Plan

If you have health insurance in the U.S., the first step is to check with your insurance company and establish what kind of coverage you have. If you have difficulty getting a straight answer, that alone should be a warning. If you don't have insurance in the U.S., consider that you might need it more than ever when traveling—and recognize that the coverage can be cheap—as little as $1.50 to $9.00 per day.

Main Types of Coverage to Consider

Health/accident insurance. Typically referred to as travel health insurance, these policies pay for doctor and hospital bills, and sometimes dental care and medications. These plans can be written for short trips (1 day - 6 months) and will supplement Medicare or a managed care plan. International health insurance can also be purchased as primary insurance for expats or someone relocating to another country for an extended period of time (6 months or longer). These plans are comprehensive and include added features such as preventative services, acupuncture, chiropractic, maternity benefits and more.

Medical Evacuation. Evacuations can be expensive (as much as $100,000 or more from a remote location). In addition to the coverage, you'll want assistance arranging an evacuation. All of GeoBlue’s products offer coverage for medical evacuation.


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