Visiting a doctor when traveling abroad may be necessary.
While traveling abroad, it is common to get a minor illness such as a cold, the flu, a fever, diarrhea, stomach upset, etc. Such illnesses usually require you to visit a doctor's office.
All U.S.-based travel medical insurance plans provide coverage for outpatient services such as doctor's office visits. (Beware of some foreign travel insurance companies that don't.)
Visiting a doctor may be different inside as well as outside the United States.
In the U.S.
For persons visiting the United States, there are primarily two types of visitors insurance plans:
- Fixed Coverage Plans: Cheaper, limited coverage
- Comprehensive Coverage Plans: More cost, better coverage
The PPO network is a network of health-care providers that participate in providing care to members of particular insurance plans. When you visit the providers in the network, they will only charge the network-negotiated fees. In the case of plans with a PPO network, you can still visit providers outside the network, but the coverage may be less in some plans.
In either case, you get a health card that has all the necessary insurance information for the provider to bill the insurance company directly.
If the plan participates in a PPO network, the physician will generally bill the insurance company directly. Otherwise, it is up to the physician whether they would like to do so or not. If you must pay out of pocket, you can file for reimbursement of eligible claims.
It is important to note that to visit a doctor in the United States, it is necessary to first schedule an appointment in advance. Depending on the severity of the situation, you can choose the right provider such as urgent care, an emergency room or otherwise.
Outside the U.S.
There is no concept of a PPO network outside the United States. You still get the insurance ID card that contains sufficient information for the doctor's office to bill the insurance company directly.
However, health-care systems widely vary in different parts of the world.
The insurance company is willing to work with the providers in various countries. However, some doctors or even some countries just may not be accustomed to dealing with insurance companies.
Therefore, in most cases, you would end up paying out of your pocket for a doctor's visit outside the United States. You can file for reimbursement of eligible claims by filling a claim form.
Some insurance companies provide the list of providers outside the United States. However, in most cases, that is merely a list like the yellow pages and not necessary a list of contracted providers. Those lists are as good as searching the internet for providers in a given area.