If your parents are planning to visit you in the US for the first time, you’ve probably considered getting them medical insurance coverage, known as visitors insurance. Visitors insurance coverage is essential for your parents to have in the USA, since as you are well aware, healthcare costs are extremely high.
However, it is natural to have questions if you have never purchased visitors insurance for your parents before. To help answer those questions, read on.
Are my parents required to have travel insurance to visit the United States?
Legally? No. Practically? Absolutely. While the USA does not have a legal requirement for visitors to buy medical insurance coverage, it is absolutely essential. From living in the US, you are familiar with the high cost of healthcare. Since your parents can not be covered by their domestic health insurance or your health insurance while visiting the United States, they must have visitors insurance coverage to protect you from paying massive bills if they get sick or injured.
My parents are healthy and aren’t visiting for that long. Is visitors insurance really necessary?
Visitors insurance is designed to provide coverage for new, unexpected medical conditions. You cannot predict a heart attack, stroke, broken ankle, or severe allergic reaction. These things can occur whether your parents are visiting for a week or six months. In either case, you need to make sure they have coverage in order to receive affordable treatment.
My mother will be due for her annual physical while visiting the US. Will visitors insurance cover that?
No. Visitors insurance does not cover routine examinations or check-ups. It is designed for new, unexpected medical conditions that occur after the effective date of the policy. If your mother needs her physical, you should suggest that she get it prior to leaving her home country.
My parents are planning to visit for at least three months, but might stay longer. Can I buy three months of coverage and extend it later?
While you can extend many visitors insurance plans, it is always recommended that you purchase coverage for the full trip duration. This is because not all plans are extendable. Even if they are, you could accidentally forget to extend, leaving them without coverage. Also, if your parent celebrates a birthday during their visit, they could get charged a higher rate, or even become ineligible for certain benefits when you try to extend. Purchasing coverage for the full trip duration eliminates these hassles.
Should I purchase the insurance from a US-based company, or a company from my parents’ home country?
This question often comes up with visitors to the USA from India. Insurance from a company in their home country can seem cheaper, but this isn’t really the case. While the initial cost may be less, so will be the coverage. You may easily exceed the policy maximum with only a minor medical issue, and it can be difficult to receive any after-purchase support. Insurance from US-based company will have higher benefit limits, PPO network participation, direct billing, the ability to extend coverage, and customer service based in the country they’re visiting. You might pay a little more at first, but the coverage you will receive is far more valuable.