Who should buy travel medical insurance? That is a question many people ask.
If you are traveling within your home country, your domestic health insurance should already cover you. However, some health insurance companies in the US, especially the ones that provide HMO plans, may not cover outside their state. In that case, they can purchase trip insurance to cover domestically within the US.
However, if you are traveling outside your home country, you should definitely purchase travel medical insurance.
Inadequate Alternatives to Travel Medical Insurance
Domestic Health Insurance
Some people think that their domestic health insurance will cover them abroad as well. Many domestic health insurance companies don't provide international coverage. Among the plans that do, many may have a limited coverage only. Additionally, your coverage would be considered out of network and you would be subject to higher deductible, coinsurance and out of pocket expenses. Also, you would only get paid usual, reasonable and customary charges which may be significantly lower than the actual expenses. Most importantly, it is rare that any domestic health insurance company would cover emergency medical evacuation.
Credit Card Coverage
Some credit cards provide some coverage related to travel. However, many provide coverage only for a certain types of emergency situations. Moreover, they may not provide medical benefits.
Medicare clearly does not provide health insurance coverage outside the United States.
Scenarios Where You Need Travel Medical Insurance
So, what are some of the scenarios where travel medical insurance is highly recommended?
There are many countries where travel medical insurance is compulsory. If you are traveling to any of those countries, you don't have a choice and are required to purchase a travel medical insurance plan that meets their minimum requirements.
If you have family members visiting you from a foreign country, it is advisable to purchase travel medical insurance for them. They may not be aware of the high healthcare expenses in the host country. Moreover, if they were to unexpectedly fall sick or get injured, the burden may be on the host to bear the bills. Therefore, make sure to purchase visitors insurance.
Leisure Travelers and Vacationers
If you are traveling abroad for a leisure or an extended vacation, you should highly consider purchasing travel medical insurance.
Business travelers typically travel throughout the year to many countries. Therefore, an annual multi trip travel medical insurance may be very helpful. They don't have to worry about purchasing separate insurance for every trip.
If you are traveling abroad for missionary work or to help others, it is very important that you plan ahead to protect yourself in case something goes wrong. It is very likely that you will be traveling to a remote region where healthcare facilities are very poor, if there are any at all. Therefore, adequate emergency medical evacuation coverage is mandatory.
Students in Study Abroad Program
While young and healthy students may not be too worried about getting sick or injured while abroad, their parents should really consider purchasing travel medical insurance for them. In many cases, students may have never been exposed to a foreign country before and incidents like food poisoning or slips and falls are very likely.
Considerations When Buying Travel Medical Insurance
While purchasing the best travel medical insurance for your personal needs, or asking yourself the question "How much travel medical insurance do I need?", you should consider at least these few things:
- If you or your visiting family member has pre-existing conditions, make sure to look for the plans that have some coverage for that, at least for acute onset of pre-existing conditions.
- Anyone traveling to a third-world country or remote locations should definitely have a good amount of emergency medical evacuation coverage.
- If you are worried about losing your baggage, make sure to purchase a travel medical insurance that provides a higher amount of coverage for loss of checked luggage. Some plans have an optional upgrade available.
- If you are worried about being kidnapped, consider a travel insurance that would cover that. Alternatively, you can purchase a stand-alone kidnap and ransom insurance.
- Depending upon the destination, other valuable considerations could be terrorism or natural disasters coverage.
Suitable Alternative to Travel Medical Insurance
While travel medical insurance provides many valuable coverages while traveling abroad, if you are looking for trip cancellation coverage, consider purchasing trip insurance instead. Trip insurance provides the coverage for prepaid non-refundable trip costs in case you needed to cancel your trip for covered reasons.