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Difference between health insurance and short-term travel medical insurance or visitors insurance

Difference Between Health Insurance and Short-Term Travel Medical Insurance (or Visitors Insurance)

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Many people that invite senior citizens such as their parents, in-laws, or other relatives to the U.S. from abroad may purchase short-term travel medical insurance, also called visitors insurance, while they are in the U.S. for a short duration.

Many of those customers have health insurance through their employers, where there are a lot more things covered including preventive care, immunization, pre-existing conditions, routine maintenance, and a lot more. Those are long-term, major health insurance plans that they have to keep year-round and pay a large premium for every month. As the employer may be paying a large portion of those premiums, they may not realize the how expensive health insurance in the U.S. is.

On the other hand, visitors insurance plans are low-cost, short-term, travel medical insurance plans that would generally cover any new medical conditions, injuries, or accidents that may unexpectedly occur after the effective date of the policy. All such short-term travel insurance plans come with their limitations, and some people may have trouble understanding what should be covered in and what to expect from visitors insurance.

It is very important to set the right expectations for visitors insurance.

The following is the partial list of common questions that people ask whether they are covered or not:

  • COVID-19 Tests
    There are many visitors insurance plans available that would cover COVID-19 just like any other new medical condition that occurs after the effective date of the policy. That would include medically necessary testing as well as treatment.

    However, many people would like to get a COVID-19 test done just like that, or they have no symptoms but they suspect they have been around someone who has COVID-19 and would like to confirm, or they are planning to go back home and the airline requires it, or their destination country requires it to avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement. Such COVID-19 tests are not covered in any visitors insurance plans. Check your local area to see if there are any free COVID-19 testing facilities available.

  • Flu Shot
    A flu shot, or any other vaccine or immunization, is considered a preventive measure and is not covered in any visitors insurance plan.

    More information

  • Prescription Refill
    Many people visit U.S. from abroad with the plan to stay for a set duration and return back home after that. They brought the medicines for any ongoing pre-existing conditions for their original intended duration of stay. However, they are then forced (or would prefer) to stay in the U.S. for a longer duration due to the COVID-19 situation, and they would like to get their prescriptions refilled.

    No visitors insurance plans from any insurance company anywhere would cover prescription refills and associated physician visits for routine maintenance of pre-existing conditions. You would have to pay out of your pocket for the same.

    Of course, if the insurance plan you purchased has a prescription drug discount card, you can use that to lower your out-of-pocket costs.

  • Periodic Check up
    People that have pre-existing conditions might need to go for periodic check-ups, such as for their blood pressure or diabetes. They might be visiting a doctor every three months or six months in their home country.

    When they end up staying in the U.S. for a longer duration than originally planned, they would like to get their blood pressure or diabetes checked with a U.S. physician. Unfortunately, that is not covered with any of the visitors insurance plans from any company anywhere.

  • Healthcare for Chronic Conditions
    When a senior citizen ends up in the U.S. for several months and longer than originally planned, other needs arise from chronic conditions that may have developed over many years, and he or she would like to get them immediately taken care of. Some examples are cataract surgery, knee surgery due to arthritis, and so on. Unfortunately, short-term visitors insurance plans are not designed to cover such healthcare issues that arise out of long-term degeneration over many years.

    Some people would like to visit a physician or chiropractor for situations like back pain or knee pain, chronic issues going on for years. No visitors insurance plans from any insurance company would cover routine maintenance of pre-existing conditions.

  • Dental and Vision
    Some of the visitors may end up breaking their eyeglasses or may feel their vision prescription has changed and would like to get a new prescription and new eyeglasses. Some visitors may want to get dental work done. No visitors insurance plans would cover such dental work or vision expenses.

    Consider purchasing Careington Dental/Vision Plan, which may provide the coverage for dental and vision up to some extent.

As the above items that people routinely end up needing are not covered, some people inaccurately claim that visitors insurance is useless. However, that is absolutely not the case. Some people even allege that visitors insurance is a scam and rip off, which is completely baseless, as none of the visitors insurance plans promise to cover such expenses in the first place. It is some of the customers that unreasonably expect them to be covered. As visitors insurance plans come at such a low cost and are intended to last only for a short duration, they can’t possibly afford to cover all these routine items that you would need.

Visitors insurance plans are not long-term health insurance plans and don’t cover all of your healthcare needs. However, you never know what kind of new medical conditions, injuries, or accidents you might face that occur unexpectedly after the effective date of the policy. That is what visitors insurance is meant to cover. As healthcare in the U.S. is very expensive, it is highly advisable to always purchase visitors insurance.

Even if you are a U.S. citizen between jobs and purchase short-term medical insurance, that also would not cover pre-existing conditions or routine healthcare expenses, but only new medical conditions, injuries, or accidents.

Some people mistakenly think that such restrictions are only in U.S.-based travel insurance companies and that they might be better off purchasing from their home country. You should carefully analyze buying travel insurance from U.S. vs home country before making any decision. Those traveling from India to the U.S. should read comparing travel insurance from U.S. vs India for further information.

In any case, there are many different visitors insurance plans available that differ in coverage and prices. Before making any decision, it is of utmost importance to review the certificate wording to understand what it covers and what it doesn’t.

Did you know?

Prices are regulated by law.

You cannot find a lower price anywhere for the same product.

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Why purchase insurance from Insubuy®?

Same Price. Better Service.®

There are many advantages in purchasing from Insubuy® and no disadvantages.

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Visiting USA?

Healthcare costs are very high in the U.S.

Buy U.S. based visitors insurance and enjoy your trip.

Learn More

Traveling abroad?

Did you know that your insurance may not cover you abroad or that it may only provide limited coverage?

Purchase travel medical insurance that includes emergency medical evacuation.

Learn More

New immigrant to USA?

You are not eligible to enroll in Medicare for the first 5 years.

Purchase new immigrant medical insurance to bridge the gap.

Learn More

Going on a vacation?

You could lose your non-refundable trip costs if you had to cancel your trip.

Buy a trip cancellation insurance package plan and be worry-free.

Learn More

Are you an exchange visitor to USA?

The U.S. Department of State requires all J visa holders to purchase compliant insurance.

Buy J visa medical insurance to meet your requirements.

Learn More

Traveling to Europe?

Schengen countries require most non-US citizens to purchase Schengen visa insurance.

Make an instant purchase online and get instant visa letter.

Learn More

Traveling frequently throughout the year?

You don't need to purchase travel insurance for every trip.

Purchase annual multi trip travel insurance for your travels.

Learn More

International student in the U.S.?

Most schools require international students to purchase health insurance.

Purchase international student health insurance that meets most school requirements.

Learn More

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