Health Care Travel Insurance Puzzle Demystified

Healthcare is perhaps the most confusing area in purchasing travel insurance. Most people think they are covered if they already have existing health care insurance. Within the United States, that’s true. Outside the U.S., however, is a big IF. And in some cases, your insurance won’t even cover you if you’re travelling on a foreign-flagged vessel. This is a huge red flag, since most cruise ships, even those cruising U.S. waters, are not flagged in the U.S.

In many cases, even if you are covered for basic emergency care overseas (again, a big IF), in almost all cases, your current health insurance does NOT cover you to evacuate you and repatriate you back to your home country.  This is where Medical Evacuation and Repatriation” insurance comes into play. It’s an insurance program (usually an annual premium, not often purchased per trip) where if you get sick or injured overseas the policy will get you treated, stabilized and flown back to your home country. There are a number of good companies that provide this plan, two of which are Travel Guard and Medjet Assist. Our Advice: YES, get this, with another important caveat: read the fine print. With Travel Guard and Medjet assist, these policies provide that they will get you initially treated and stabilized and then send a medically equipped and staffed jet to fly you to the doctor and medical facility of your choice. This is crucial. Many other companies offer this insurance will fly you to the doctor and medical facility of their choice, which may not fare up to the standard.

And then there’s another reason for getting this coverage: If you’re in a foreign country, particularly a developing country, many hospitals will admit you without caring about coverage, but they won’t let you leave until you pay. Travel insurance can help facilitate payment, and act as an advocate so that you’re not overcharged just because you are a foreigner.

 

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