The day has come! You’re headed overseas for the trip of your lifetime. But what happens if you get sick on the trip? Really sick?
Don’t assume your health insurance will cover doctor or hospital visits while traveling outside the United States.
Get recommended vaccinations. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/ to learn about health risks and the health care system in the countries you’ll be visiting, including the vaccinations you should get before leaving the U.S.
Call your health insurance company. Contact your health insurer to find out if you’ll be covered for emergency medical expenses. Most companies define an emergency as one in which your life would be in danger if you didn’t get treatment – like a heart attack or accident.
However, injuries incurred during a risky activity, such as mountain climbing, probably won’t be covered. You also might not be covered for injuries sustained during a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
If something happens, present your insurance policy identity cards and claim form when you receive care. The provider probably won’t bill you directly, so have cash and credit cards available and expect to pay “out-of-network” costs. You can submit the proper paperwork for reimbursement after you return home.
Don’t rely on basic Medicare. Medicare doesn’t cover expenses overseas, unless you are on a ship within U.S. territorial waters. However, a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan may cover most emergency care, even overseas.
Purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance can act as primary or secondary coverage. Costs will run about five to eight percent of your trip cost, though it’s usually cheaper for a younger traveler. Some plans may not cover pre-existing medical conditions, but you can purchase a waiver. A comprehensive insurance plan also will cover trip cancellation or interruption costs.
Purchase evacuation insurance. Emergency evacuation insurance comes in handy when you’re in a remote area that doesn’t have access to good care. It pays for evacuation to another hospital or home. Evacuations can run $100,000 or more, but check your credit card benefits to see if they cover these costs.
Be safe and bon voyage!