Emergency Medical Evacuation Is NOT Covered by U.S. Domestic Plans…

Emergency Medical Evacuation…

GeoBlue_logo2Traveling abroad can be exciting and a very enjoyable experience.   But like everything in life there are risks.  For those of us who live in the United States we have become very comfortable with our healthcare system and how it works.  For the most part should the need arise for a certain level of care there are plenty of resources within the states to help guide you to the appropriate place for care.  World travelers on the other hand need to properly protect themselves against financial exposure due to catastrophic medical events.  If comprehensive travel medical benefits and assistance services are not secured before you travel, you could find yourself exposed to huge losses – both physical and financial.  Though illness can strike at any time, when severe incidents occur overseas, lack of proper coverage can leave you the traveler with steep medical bills for less than sufficient care.

In addition there are no many countries that REQUIRE proper International Health Cover before they will issues visas and especially extended visas.  Included in these policy requirements is the inclusion of proper Emergency Medical Evacuation Cover.  One of the primary reasons for other countries to require this coverage is they do not want foreigners to place unwanted loads on their existing social system structures.  Having said that = even if you have access to one of the social medical systems out there – there are huge gaps in the quality of coverage and access to care.

“Before you go abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas.  If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, REMEMBER to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form.  Although many health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States.  Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 and up, depending on your location and medical condition.”

Source: U.S. State Department

T6526As a global traveler you need to be prepared for the possibility that you could find yourself in a location where the Medical Care is poor or inaccessible.  In the event you find yourself in a situation where you need to be evacuated to an area where you can receive the appropriate level of care then you need to make sure your International coverage includes a comprehensive Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit.  Medical evacuations are not a simple procedures and they can be extremely complicated and expensive.  This must be available to you 24/7 no matter where in the world your travels take you.  In addition you need a partner who is capable of organizing and caring out the evacuation no matter where you find yourself.

Considerations for any medical evacuation are:

  1. Evaluating the appropriateness of local health care providers
  2. Identifying the closest facility where a high level of care is available
  3. Determining the risk vs rewards of moving the patient
  4. Choosing the best method of transport (ie: ambulance, helicopter, fixed wing air ambulance)
  5. Securing the cooperation of the local treating physician, including a determination that the patient is stable enough to move
  6. Enlisting the most appropriate team to handle the transport (ie: doctor, nurses, therapist)
  7. Arranging for speedy and appropriate intake at the receiving facility
  8. Having someone on your side helping guide you through the whole process – that is GeoBlue…

Emergency Coverage vs Medical Evacuation

These two phrases are used by so many people as if they have the same meaning.  Most U.S. health plans do not cover medical services outside of the United States. While many health plans, both job-based and those offered in the health insurance marketplace do provide some coverage for out-of-network services, this coverage often stops at the U.S. border.  This includes cruise ships that have sailed beyond U.S. territorial waters.  Emergency coverage generally means that the insurance company pays the cost for transportation and care to the nearest medical facility.  In the states this is usually not a big deal as we enjoy access to care in almost every state.  But when abroad there may not be appropriate medical care available to save your life close by or even within the borders of the country you might be in.  Your U.S. domestic plan will not cover the expense to evacuate you to the nearest appropriate level of care that meets Western Standards of Medicine.  In some cases that means transportation to another country and it may be quite a distance to travel.

In addition the U.S. Domestic plans fall way short of being able to advise you as they generally have little or no access to local provider information because that is not what they do.  In almost every case even if there are benefits provided under your domestic plan you will be required to pay for the services yourself and submit your claims at a later date for reimbursement.  Be sure you submit all claims and medical records translated to English as you will be required to do so.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does require health plans cover urgent care services, even if provided outside of the plan’s provider network, it is best to check your coverage if you do plan to travel outside of the country.  Urgent Care IS NOT EMERGENCY CARE and IT IS NOT EVACUATION COVER!  Foreign doctors, hospitals and pharmacies most likely will require you pay upfront for any services.  Additionally, the costs of a medical transport back to the U.S. can easily exceed $10,000+ and higher, depending on the nature of your illness and your location when the services are provided.  In the U.S. if you have a ACA Compliant coverage we suggest you do your own investigation.  Call your insurer and ask questions and then ask them to send you copies of your Certificate of Coverage and READ IT!  More than likely the customer service rep you get on the phone will provide you with inaccurate information.  This lack of proper information can cost you your life or cost you dearly in your pocket-book, or both.

Make sure when you travel, you travel with a full service, travel health plan that provides a higher level of protection and peace of mind than standard evacuation memberships offer.  If you are not sure about your current plan or one you are considering make sure you get a copy of your certificate of coverage and read it.  Make sure you have a complete picture of what you are buying.  Then cover yourself with an International Travel Medical plan or a comprehensive Expatriate plan from the premier U.S. Based International Insurer… GeoBlue.

Travel Insurance insures your financial investment in your trip. Typically it covers such things as the cost of lost baggage and cancelled flights, but it may or may not cover costs of medical attention you may need while abroad.  Travel Medical Insurance covers costs of medical attention you may need while abroad.

GeoBlue Provides Global On Your Mobile

samsung_2One of the most critical things about maintaining proper International Cover is that you must have access to help when you need it.  GeoBlue provides 24/7 access to their help services from anywhere in the world.  One tool that almost everyone can carry with them is the world-class GeoBlue Mobile App available to every GeoBlue member.  You can take care of business directly from your phone’s app that you download from the app stores on Apple, Google Play or Amazon.

Access daily business needs such as filing a claim, claims resolution, translation services and more.  View worldwide security alerts and profiles, find your medications when needed and most important access to providers in the country where the need arises.  You can locate all types of providers using the GPS function on your phone or you can enter your location.  Request an appointment and even arrange direct billing.  With the GeoBlue Mobil App – GeoBlue literally travels with you.

For U.S. Citizens traveling or living abroad you have available to you the plans from GeoBlue, a U.S. based insurer.  In addition to U.S. Citizens, foreign nationals that work abroad for a U.S. based company are also eligible as are legal residents of the United States.

Backed by the Power of Blue, GeoBlue boosts a very large resume of global experience serving the International Communities along with stellar customer service.  Visit our website to view more on the plans from GeoBlue.  If you are planning a trip in the coming weeks call us @ (619) 435-6700 or send your questions to “sales@individualhealth.com“.



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