Emergency medical coverage is provided in most trip insurance plans. While making plans for an overseas trip, you may be excited about the tourist attractions, shopping, food and the entire foreign journey experience. However, it is very important to purchase a proper trip insurance that provides adequate emergency medical coverage. Your regular health insurance may not provide medical coverage overseas. Even if it does, it may be subject to a higher deductible, copay, coinsurance and out of pocket maximum expenses. Moreover, they will most likely not be familiar with dealing with foreign hospitals and other foreign medical providers. Medicare, in particular, does not provide any medical coverage outside the United States.
Even if you are taking a cruise that starts in the U.S. and ends in the U.S., most cruise ships are registered outside the U.S. In that case, you would still be considered in a foreign territory and the rules about coverage outside the U.S. would apply.
For residents of countries with social health care, there may be no coverage outside their province or country. Even if there is, coverage will be less and the odds are great that the coverage provided will be insufficient in the case of a major incident.
A proper travel insurance plan with good emergency medical coverage could relieve a lot of stress and be very beneficial if you were to unexpectedly fall sick or injured in an unknown place in a foreign country.
Emergency medical benefits will provide coverage for sudden, unexpected and unforeseen sicknesses, injuries or accidents that first occur during your trip and are of an acute nature that you need to get treated immediately. For eligible expenses, the insurance plan will pay for medically necessary costs such as those associated with a physician, hospital, surgery, X-rays, labs, CT scan, MRI, local ambulance, prescription drugs and so on.
Additionally, the insurance plan may also cover a small amount (such as from $250 to $1,000 and with per tooth limit) for emergency dental treatment due to injury to sound, natural teeth. It might also pay for an infection to the tooth. In absence of such coverage, delaying the treatment could cause irreparable damage or much bigger expenses later. It will not cover any expenses related to bridges, crowns, dentures, orthodontic work, etc.
Even though the actual exclusions may vary by the specific insurance company, the following are common exclusions:
- Pre-existing medical conditions. However, it is possible to get pre-existing conditions waiver with proper planning
- Routine maintenance / Preventive check ups
- Vaccinations, including travel vaccinations
- Trips taken specifically for getting medical treatment
- Medical conditions that are not of emergency nature. For broader coverage, you may consider purchasing travel health coverage which can also cover minor things like flu, cold, fever etc. Emergency medical coverage in trip cancellation insurance usually provides coverage from $10,000 to $250,000. If you need higher medical coverage, you should consider purchasing travel health coverage which can provide coverage up to $8,000,000 depending upon your age.
- Elective treatments, treatments that are not medically necessary
- Mental, nervous or psychological disorders
- Normal pregnancy, childbirth or elective abortion
- Injuries due to participating in hazardous sport activities such as scuba diving, jet skiing, para sailing and so on. However, some plans may provide coverage for some of the sports.
- Injuries due to participating in professional, or semi-professional sports.
- Injuries or medical conditions occurring from alcohol or drug abuse or while committing a crime.
If there is a medical emergency while traveling, having travel insurance can be very helpful. Undoubtedly, procedures for getting treatment in foreign countries will vary. Some hospitals will be willing to provide direct billing to your insurance company in the U.S., some will require a guarantee of payment, while still others will require cash payment upfront before ever starting treatment. Unfortunately no travel insurance company, or anyone else, can control the administration practices of medical providers all over the world. So if you get injured severely and the hospital says they will not help until they get a guarantee of payment, it would be up to your loved ones to arrange the money in a short time period in a foreign country for you to get medical care. This can be a very troublesome situation to be in.
Travel medical insurance plans can help. If a guarantee of payment is required, in many situations the insurance company can provide that. The insurance companies are normally very willing to work with the providers to the extent practically possible. With many of the insurance plans you can get assistance with finding appropriate care for a given situation, search for providers in the area that are able to bill directly and/or you can find providers that speak your language (English or otherwise). They can also help you locate a pharmacy to replace lost prescription drugs, if needed.
On the other hand, even if your domestic plan provides some medical coverage outside your home country, they may not provide the services listed here. Therefore, you would most likely have to pay out of your pocket and file for reimbursement.
- Travel insurance can either provide emergency medical coverage either as primary or secondary coverage. It is very important to understand the difference between the two. You can look into the certificate wording to find this information.
- It may very useful to carry all of your medical records in an electronic format in a USB flash drive or stored on cloud services. These might be very useful to the medical providers in treating you properly in a prompt manner. As well as potentially save your life if there happen to be allergic reactions documented or other severe conditions which should be taken into consideration.
While traveling abroad, you should purchase a comprehensive travel insurance that provides emergency medical coverage. For a relatively small cost, it would be very helpful, save you lots of money and provide an immense amount of help in case something unexpected were to happen that required emergency medical treatment.