If you plan to travel abroad, it is important to plan for the unexpected. This means taking the time to verify what your current health insurance policy will and will not cover outside the county.  The key to a successful vacation is being able to relax, and having the knowledge that you are covered under any circumstance can help start your trip off right!

As you start to research, you want to answer questions such as:

  • What happens if you get sick or injured while abroad?
  • Will your an expedited delivery of your medicine be covered?
  • Does your insurance fully cover hospital visits?
  • Are certain activities not allowed under your coverage?
  • Will your insurance pay for an emergency evacuation back to the United States?

These are just a few of the questions that you want to find the answers to before you travel abroad. Remember, that each health care policy is different and what a friend may have told you worked for her, may not work under your coverage.  Let us share a few tips with you to use in your research on health care coverage when traveling abroad.

1. Each health insurance plan is different. Contact your health insurance company to learn more about specific benefits. Ask your health insurance company if your emergency medical coverage extends outside of the United States. Often, foreign travel is not covered but travel within U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa is. Further, different health insurance companies have different definitions of what is considered an ‘emergency’ and you will want to get your company’s definition.

2. If you are a senior or traveling with one: Medicare coverage typically does not provide coverage outside of the United States. There is much fun to be had when all the generations of your family can travel together! If you or someone you love has a traditional Medicare policy, however, it will generally not provide healthcare coverage outside of the United States.  Be sure to research an additional policy for the seniors in your group.

3. Consider purchasing travel, healthcare insurance policiesYou may have considered purchasing trip insurance to pay for the cost of your flights and hotels should you need to cancel, but what about a healthcare insurance policy? Healthcare insurance policies for travel are becoming much more frequently used today by international travelers of all ages. For a nominal amount in comparison to paying for healthcare on your own in a foreign country, you can make sure everyone in your travel party is covered in a healthcare crisis.

4. Know early that emergency evacuations are extremely expensive. If you run into a major medical emergency such as a heart attack or a severe injury, know that emergency evacuations back to the United States are extremely expensive. In many cases the costs can be well over $100,000, and are not covered by traditional insurance.  One way to avoid these costs is to purchase emergency evacuation insurance coverage. You also may want to look into your credit card benefits. Some premium cards will cover evacuation to the nearest hospital.

Whether you run into a medical emergency or a minor illness while abroad, it is always important to know the details of your health insurance policy abroad and that you are covered. Do not put off contacting your insurance company using these questions and tips we have shared with you. Being prepared when traveling abroad ensures that you can fully enjoy your trip and have peace of mind, no matter what comes your way.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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