Planning a trip out of the country requires a fair amount of thought and preparation. It’s possible you have never been to the place you are visiting, and maybe not even the country itself. No matter the circumstances, preliminary research typically focuses on the exciting parts of the trip. Where are you going? Where should you stay? What are the best activities to do once you get there?
This is an understandable thought process when it involves such a large adventure on your hard-earned vacation time. You don’t want to even consider a scenario where the trip doesn’t go exactly as you envisioned. If anything, you may think about getting some protection against weather-related cancellations, or if someone gets injured or sick before your journey begins.
But what if such a situation occurs during your trip? You may be stuck in another country, with a healthcare system you are unfamiliar with. Most people are not readily prepared for an unfortunate event like this, but it is important to understand before leaving the country.
Reviewing Current Coverage
The first step you should take is to research your current domestic healthcare plan. You may need to call your provider to get clear and definitive answers.
Each policy and insurer are different, though chances are that coverage is limited once you leave the United States. You may be partially covered for true emergencies, but there may be differences in how that usually works. There are a few main questions that may be beneficial to discuss with your provider:
- What healthcare scenarios are you covered for, if any?
- What defines an emergency?
- If you are covered, do you need to pay out of pocket and wait for reimbursement?
- Is prescription coverage included or not?
These answers will be the start of understanding your next move. This next step may very well be exploring separate healthcare insurance for the duration of your stay out of the country.
Options When Traveling
After talking with your current insurance company, don’t panic if their answers are not what you had hoped. There are many other options to protect you when it comes to healthcare while traveling abroad.
Typically this involves securing specific healthcare coverage from the date you plan on leaving the country to the date you return.
However, there are policies out there that cover a person for longer periods of time such as a month or six months. You may also want to consider adding a few extra days to the coverage date in case there is a travel delay, or the medical event itself causes you to stay abroad longer than expected.
The key thing to understand is that these offerings provide protections that your domestic insurance and any travel insurance do not cover.
International Medical Insurance Details
One of the main benefits of having a specific policy when traveling abroad is that you will have direct contact with a company that is familiar with the process and offers this service regularly. They may even have expanded hours to accommodate clients being in time zones all over the world.
Additionally, these companies might be more familiar with international networks of doctors and hospitals and will be able to provide recommendations based on that. There are some additional benefits that a dedicated policy can provide:
- Protection for all situations, whether they are emergency or not.
- Coverage for medical evacuation if needed.
- Less total out-of-pocket costs if something does occur.
Planning for unexpected events on your journey may not be exciting, but it is nonetheless important. Make sure you have considered all your healthcare coverage options before embarking on your travel abroad.