Travel Medical Insurance…

Traveling outside the United States by US Citizens visiting other parts for the Globe is an ever-changing challenge.  Most Americans that are traveling outside the border of the United States are doing so for short periods of time.  Although more and more Americans are living overseas on a permanent basis – in this article I want to focus on trips that are lasting for six months or less.  Short term trips may include reasons such as leisure, business, study and missionary travel.

Concerns for the U.S. traveler include things such as H1N1 virus to terrorist threats.  The recent attack in places such as Mumbai are good examples that these types of fears are well founded.  Considering the heightened risk of traveling overseas, people are planning more than ever to help them avoid potential hazards that truly exist.

So why has procuring a good travel insurance plan increased in popularity?  Well, there are many reasons, one of which is simply increased awareness.  Most people do not realize that their domestic health coverages in many cases are inadequate when taken across U.S. borders.  Domestic insurance usually have limited benefits overseas.  In addition, most U.S. health insurers will refuse to pay to get you to a higher standard of care should you need to be evacuated due to medical emergencies.  Most travelers that know this do not want to accept these limitations and are not willing to leave anything to chance.

So why buy a Travel Medical Insurance policy?  Travel Medical Policies are designed to pick up where your primary health plan leaves off.  If for some reason you do not maintain your own major medical plan in the U.S. then your travel medical plan will act as your primary coverage while you are traveling abroad.  Be careful when you choose as all travel medical insurance plans are not the same.

The better plans offer more than just emergency benefits.  They will provide coverage for expenses such as hospitalization and surgeries and they will also cover you for services such as office visits, ambulance services, prescription medications and more.  Some of the better plans will also provide coverage for  sickness or injury that is the result of a terrorist event or even a pre-existing medical condition.  Some policies will pay medical providers overseas on a direct basis you can avoid additional hassles.

There are two types of plans that are sold today.  Those that are insured by Non-Admitted carriers and those that are insured by Admitted Carriers.  Plans that are insured by companies that are offshore from the U.S. are considered Non-Admitted carriers.  Admitted carriers are licensed insurance companies that are regulated in the U.S. and the local Departments of Insurance.  Comparing admitted to non admitted policies is truly hard to do as they are built very differently.

Dealing with an Admitted Health Insurance company has advantages:

1) Consumer Protection – you are protected under U.S. insurance laws and oversight.  U.S. laws are strict and favor health care consumers.  Policy language must be fair and meet the plain English definition.  Policy wording, plan definitions, exclusions, claims turnaround times, formal appeals process etc. all must meet regulatory muster.

2) Global Provider Networks – What good is insurance if you can’t find a doctor you trust?  The best plans give you access to the best providers.  They set up providers to bill the insurance company directly.  In addition, providers are selected based on their medical credentials, language proficiency and more.  Always ask the insurer what their credentialing process entails.

3) Richer Benefits – Admitted benefits tend to be broader and deeper with fewer surprises at time of claim.  The table below illustrates major differences between and admitted policy and a popular non admitted policy.

Coverage Considerations   Sample Provisions Admitted  vs   Sample Provisions Non-Admitted

The following 5 items are examples of coverage considerations that your will find in an Admitted Policy:

  1. Conforms to U.S. health insurance laws
  2. Pre-existing conditions covered to policy limit*
  3. Terrorism covered with no excluded countries
  4. Pre-certification not required for hospitalization
  5. Cashless access to profiled physicians and hospitals in 180 countries

* Pre-existing conditions coverage may be subject to current enrollment in a primary health plan.

So after all this you might be wondering which company is available here in the U.S. as an Admitted Carrier?  Although we represent several international insurers, we believe the one company that clearly stands out from the rest is “HTH Worldwide”. 

So if you are planning overseas travel you may want to consider a “TravelGap” travel medical insurance plan from HTH Worldwide before you leave.  the TravelGap policy provides:

  1. Worldwide Medical Evacuation benefits
  2. Hospitalization, Surgery, Physician Office Visits, RX and more
  3. Access to Profiled. Elite Providers in 180 countries who accept direct payment from HTH Worldwide

To find out more about TravelGap click here!


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