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Visitor Medical Insurance Overview
While the USA offers some of the best medical care in the world, it is very expensive. It is of the utmost importance to purchase visitors medical insurance policy if you are planning to visit USA.
Visitors Medical Insurance is a short term medical insurance that would generally cover the illnesses/injuries that occur after purchasing the policy and while outside the home country. It will generally cover all eligible medical expenses, such as, doctor's office visits, hospital charges, surgery, lab work, x-rays, prescription drugs and other related medical expenses. These plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, and the eligible medical expenses are for new illness/injuries.
You can purchase visitors medical insurance either from your home country (such as India) or from the USA. Generally, medical insurance from American insurance companies costs higher. It is generally preferred to purchase insurance from the USA as it clearly has many advantages such as:
- You get health insurance card that has information such as an id number, claims filing address in the U.S., toll-free number in the U.S. that the doctor's office can call to verify the coverage. The doctor's office needs this kind of information to bill the insurance company directly, if he/she is willing to do so. There are several U.S. based insurance plans where they have a PPO network of doctors and hospitals across the United States where you can go to and the insurance company has the ability to arrange direct payment with them. This makes the claim process easier, painless and you don't have to pay up front, if the doctor is willing to bill directly.
- You can get instant quotes and make an instant purchase (credit card payment through secure web site) right here on this web site. Coverage can start as early as the next day or any future date that you specify.
- No membership, paperwork or medical exam is required.
- The insurance industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States and the government rules are very strict. There are much higher chances that you would get the benefits as per the insurance policy.
- In case of any problem, it is much easier to follow up as the companies are right here in the U.S.
- Reliable companies with a proven track record. Companies are rated A-, A, A+ or A++ by A.M. Best.
- There are many choices to suit your needs based on your budget and the amount of coverage that you wish to purchase.
- Most U.S. based companies that offer visitors medical insurance are a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), that can help with any dispute.
- Most plans are renewable. That is an advantage if you are not sure about the duration of your stay.
- Most plans are refundable in case of your early departure.
- Faster claim processing with less paperwork and follow ups.
More details at Buying from USA vs India
You can get instant quotes and make an instant purchase for most U.S. based companies. It is important to buy from a reliable and reputed broker that has many insurance plans and can advise you for the most suitable plan. It is better to purchase from a broker that has a wide variety of plans and one that does not prefer one company over another, but works in your best interest. Please note that no matter where you buy visitor medical insurance from in USA, there are only handful of actual companies in USA that issue such insurance, and we offer international medical insurance from the most prominent US companies.
The insurance can be purchased for as little as 5 days, 15 days or 1 month. Some plans can be purchased in multiples of days, or 15 days or 1 month. E.g., Visitors Care (min. 5 days), Inbound USA (min. 5 days), Liaison International (min. 5 days) and Patriot America (min. 5 days), Atlas America (min. 5 days) plans can be purchased in multiples of days. Other plans such as Diplomat America, Visit USA, can be purchased in multiples of 15 days such as 15 days, 1 month, 1.5 months, 2 months, 2.5 months and so on.
The effective date of the insurance plan can be the date you leave your home country or any other future date that you specify. It is advisable to have the effective date the same as the day you leave from your home country and the end date the same as the date you come back to your home country. That way, you can be covered for eligible medical expenses during your journey. Please keep in mind the time zone differences as insurance starts at midnight either at Eastern Time, Indianapolis Time, or Pacific Time depending upon the insurance company. Keeping the time zones in mind, you may need to start your insurance one day in advance in case you would like to cover your journey.
As there are many insurance plans available, it would be wise to study and compare several plans so that you can choose the one that best meets your needs.
Please note that visitors medical insurance plans generally do not provide coverage for travel (trip delay, cancellation, etc), dental, or vision. There are other plans that are available on this web site that may offer those features. Also, the insurance company will not pay for over the counter medicines and the medicines that you are regularly taking for pre-existing conditions. Please bring enough supply of those medicines from your home country before traveling to the USA. Also, if you wear glasses, bring a couple of extra pairs of glasses, as they are quite expensive in the USA and not covered by visitors medical insurance.
Essentially, there are 2 major types of insurance plans: scheduled benefit (fixed coverage) plans and comprehensive plans.
Scheduled benefit (fixed coverage) plan: It provides limited coverage and it pays a set amount of money for every procedure (such as $55 for doctors visit, $330 for emergency room visit, $3,300 for surgery, etc.); you have to pay any difference beyond that.
Comprehensive plan: Generally, you pay the deductible, after that it pays 80% for the first $5000 of expenses (you pay 20%), and after $5000, it pays 100% up to policy maximum.
This is a very high level generic description and you should look at the specific details of the policy to find out all the benefits of the plan.
It is advisable to purchase a comprehensive plan as it provides much better coverage compared to a scheduled benefit (fixed coverage) plan.
The premium rate of the policy depends upon several factors such as age, deductible, policy maximum, the kind of policy you choose, and insurance company. For the same age, deductible, policy maximum and very similar features, premiums may vary from one insurance company to another, but it will only have a few dollars difference, not very significant. But for the same plan with the same features from the same company, insurance will always cost you the same amount no matter where you buy it from, whether it be any web site, over the phone, directly from the insurance company or through any other means. No one is allowed to sell the same policy at different price as it is strictly against the law.
Visitors medical insurance works entirely different from domestic health insurance that you usually get through your employer. In such a group plan, you usually pay a $10 or $20 co-pay for a doctor's visit, usually paid at 100% for hospitalization etc, but it does not work that way for visitors medical insurance. As most high tech professionals have group insurance through their employer, they never have to deal with purchasing insurance on their own. Therefore, many are looking for similar terms in visitors medical insurance too. It is advisable to find out the details about what is different in visitors medical insurance by reading the brochures on this web site, looking at different plan comparisons and calling us if you still have further questions. There is no concept of co-pay in short term insurance plans. There is no plan that will cover pre-existing conditions either.
Different plans may have positive or negative features. You can never predict what is going to happen to your health in the future, and therefore it is impossible to find out in advance which plan will provide you the most coverage you may need at the lowest cost. Insurance plans are generally designed in such a way that you get what you pay for: In general, cheaper plans provide less coverage and more expensive plans provide more comprehensive coverage. For a given plan, the higher the deductible you choose the less the premium you have to pay up front. But if you choose a higher deductible, in case you get sick or injured, you will have to pay that much money first before the insurance company starts paying anything for eligible expenses.
Disclaimer: The information within this article is intended as a broad summary of benefits and services and is meant for informational purposes only. The information does not describe all scenarios, coverages or exclusions of any insurance plan. The benefits and services of an insurance plan are subject to change. This is not your policy/certificate of insurance. If there is any discrepancy between the information in this article and the language of your policy/certificate wording, the language of the policy/certificate wording will prevail.