Stand-alone health insurance for trips abroad is something a lot of people decline…sometimes with a pride akin to triumphing over that electronics sales person who was pushing an extended warranty.
But unlike an Xbox 360, being more covered than you need could be a matter of life and death (or at least bankruptcy and financial prosperity) when it comes to your health in a foreign land…
…Here are eight of the most common people who may think they don’t need travel health insurance (but really might) and what they need to know:
You, if you’re not already covered
Some health insurance plans don’t, in-fact, cover you for travel outside of the U.S. Many do. The rule of thumb for all of the below is to check out the details of the plan in question in the fine print, online, or call…yes, call. As with anything to do with insurance, what might seem like a hassle will likely be a few minutes well-spent.
If you only have travel insurance that covers a few medical items
If your current at-home plan doesn’t cover you for travel abroad, buying such a plan for the number of days you’re away is never a bad investment. The key is picking the features that will matter if worst comes to worst: Be sure your plan is an actual medical insurance one that covers you for direct medical expenses and not just a travel insurance plan that happens to cover you for a few health-related items such as sickness, death, etc…
You, if you are already covered
Even if your current medical insurance covers you while abroad, check to see exactly what it covers you for. In many cases, a dedicated travel health insurance plan can fill in important gaps in your monthly health insurance coverage when abroad: Are you covered for extended hospital stays? Will your insurance pay upfront for medical costs so you don’t have to worry about getting reimbursed later? Are you covered for emergency evacuations?
Those traveling to countries with healthcare significantly less advanced than in the U.S.
A good policy will pay for emergency transportation to adequate medical care and even emergency transportation back to the U.S. As this can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, travel health insurance may be worth buying if for no other reason than the fact that it should cover you in the event that such a trip is necessary.
One of the most important things a stand-alone student medical travel insurance policy should cover is all costs upfront: Especially important for those on a budget where paying out-of-pocket is a serious concern.
Any existing or stand-alone travel health insurance plan for pregnant women should cover expenses due to pregnancy-related complications and evacuation coverage that guarantees you will be evacuated only to the U.S. or a facility that will deliver the type of care specified by your travel insurance plan.
The older you are, the harder it is to get dedicated travel health insurance. The key for seniors is to be persistent. Keep looking until you find a policy that covers your needs. A good place to start is your existing health insurance provider, as you’re more likely to get the coverage you want with a company that already knows and insures you.
People with pre-existing conditions
In this case, you will want a comprehensive plan that doesn’t exclude anything (if you already have health issues, you don’t want to risk additional issues or complications of your existing condition.) Chiefly, you want a plan that covers every conceivable incident that could arise as a result of your condition. Consulting with your doctor is a good way to double-check the must-have’s for such a plan. Finally, if you decide you need it, be sure to get such coverage in place as far in advance of your travel as possible.
With the eight archetypes above, we’ve hopefully painted an introductory picture of when you need travel health insurance and examples of when it might be useful to recommend it to others.
Any other cases you can think of where stand-along health insurance could really save someone when (or before) traveling? What have been your experiences?