International Travel Medical Insurance
Yep it’s true we are – or should I say we have become part of a truly global society. It is just too easy to travel abroad today with modern technology leading the way. Borders have come down as people and businesses seek new adventure and opportunities outside the borders of their home country. There are so many reasons as to why people travel abroad and that is really all that needs to be said about that. But when you do leave the comfort of your home country making sure you have the proper health insurance coverage is critical. In some cases even required by other nations before they let you stay for any length of time.
Here in the United States we have been going through a huge transformation as to how health insurance and health care are to be delivered now and in the future. The Affordable Care Act depending on how you view it has created either headaches or opportunity depending your personal circumstances. The private health insurance markets still exist even though the benefit structures are basically being defined by the Federal Government. But what happens when you go outside the United States? Does your new ACA Compliant health insurance plan provide you with the proper protection abroad? I think the short answer is that coverage is inadequate at the very least.
Emergency Care vs Emergency Evacuation
There is so much confusion about whether or not your existing U.S. coverage is sufficient when you travel abroad. Just about anyone who has experienced healthcare abroad will tell you the answer is NO. And, this is a very large subject to cover in a single post so I will not try. But what I will do is break some of this down for you in bits and pieces over several future posts.
Recently I contacted a very large U.S. Domestic National Carrier and asked some tough questions about how certain claims issues would be handled. If you call your current insurer and speak with a customer service rep they will most likely tell you that you are covered when you travel abroad. And in some ways this is a true statement. But what and how services are covered are another matter.
So lets talk about the difference between Emergency Care (Domestic Carrier) verses Emergency Medical Evacuation (International Carrier). What I was told by the claims department is this… If a domestic policy holder has an emergency overseas the event is technically a covered expense. However the way I understood it is that in the event of an emergency they will pay claims based on treatment needed to save your life that is provided by the nearest facility able to treat your medical needs or save your life.
That does not mean they will pay for transportation beyond the nearest facility nor does it mean they will guide you to a provider that is most qualified to save your life. Plus if you are discharged then what? They will NOT pay for evacuation to another place or even another country if it means that there are no acceptable places for you to be treated – you are on your own at that point financially speaking. More than likely they will only pay for services received from the closest medical provider you are taken to. In addition they generally do not provide coordination of benefits with that provider nor are they equipped to guide you to medical providers that meet Western Standards. Their policies are written with the idea that you are living and receiving care primarily in the United States.
In addition you will more than likely be responsible for paying the entire bill on your own and when you are able you can submit the medical bills for reimbursement based on how claims are to be handled. In the U.S. this can mean that reimbursement is based on the PPO Network rates based on your residence and you may be required to provide all information regarding your treatment in English. I do not think they are trying to avoid these types of medical reimbursements – they just are not equipped for healthcare on a global scale.
Emergency Medical Evacuation is more comprehensive in its scope of coverage and treatment options. If an unfortunate situation were to occur in which you face a potential loss of life or limb because you become seriously injured or fall ill and there was not adequate medical care within your proximity, then you are evacuated to the closest facility where a high level of care is available. In addition it includes transport via ambulance, helicopter or fixed wing air ambulance.
International companies like GeoBlue will take basically a 1st position in your care. They are equipped on a global basis to find and arrange the best possible care even if it means flying you out to another country. They have people who speak the local languages. They will coordinate benefits with the provider and pay them direct. And if need be they will get you home.
Ask For A Copy Of Your Policy
If you really want to be sure what your domestic plans covers then request a hard copy of your policy and READ IT. I think you will find it lacking. If you are not sure ask questions but do not just accept the answers provide by a customer service rep who is not equipped to answer detailed claims questions. Finally do your homework before you travel and get the best coverage available. Many of our customers come right out and ask us which company offers the best product and we are quick to answer GeoBlue.
We do offer other travel medical plans depending on your unique circumstances so take some time and visit our website and see if you can find a solution to your next trip abroad. If you have questions give us a call (307) 690-0427 or send us an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org“- we are here to help.