Emergency medical travel insurance is about choosing the right plan to cover you and your family should a medical emergency arise. Learn how to sift through your choices, estimate costs and select the right plan for you.
What is Emergency Medical Travel Insurance?
Determining what is emergency medical travel insurance requires boiling the issue down to its most basic elements.
Here’s the first element, and it’s presented as a question: What do you buy in order to shield you and your family from paying a whooping medical bill if you get hurt or fall sick while on a trip?
To answer the above question, here’s another basic element to understand about emergency medical travel insurance: Hospitals and doctors in other countries may require cash on the barrelhead before you receive care. The price for care could cost thousands of dollars. You want a travel health insurance policy that will cover that unexpected expense. It will be found with a proper travel insurance policy.
Another basic issue to be aware of is that travel insurance and travel health insurance are two different animals. Travel insurance will cover trip problems such as delayed flights, lost luggage and cancelled trips. Travel health insurance pays for medical expenses like emergency room visits, doctor fees and medical evacuation.
The above information will give you a fairly good picture of what to look for with travel insurance.
Insurers may offer a travel insurance plan that will cover both trip problems and medical problems in one comprehensive package. Do check, though. You don’t want to be surprised with a $2,000 hospital bill to fix a broken toe.
What Travel Insurance Costs
A survey by American Express stated that an average cost for a comprehensive travel insurance policy is about $250.
To get a better estimate for yourself, simply find the sum of your trip in dollars and multiply that number by 4 to 12%. That will give you the average range for travel insurance.
The insurer may offer different levels of medical coverage in a travel insurance plan.
The first is the economy plan and will cost the least. At the top end is the elite policy and will cost the most. Last is a middle plan whose cost will be between the basic and elite plans.
Realize, too, that the cost difference between a basic and elite plan may only be a few dollars for higher coverages. Insurers publish charts where you can see the price differences.
The majority of travelers choose a medical trip insurance plan to cover a single trip of 5 to 12 days duration. The average cost for this will be $40 to $80, according to Travel Insurance Review.
Adding and Subtracting the Cost of Medical Insurance
In general, the older you are, the more you will pay.
Coverage limits may start at $50,000 and go up to $8 million. The higher the limit, the more you will pay.
The deductible can range from zero dollars up to $25,000. You will pay less for a higher deductible policy.
A medical travel plan that includes travel in the United States will cost more than a plan that excludes travel in the US.
Destination. Where you travel to has a bearing on the cost of a travel health insurance policy. A visitor to the United States will pay more for a travel health insurance policy, while a visitor to Hungary will pay less.
Paying For Bandaids and Bidits
Each insurer will offer information on the types of medical travel insurance available. These plans will lay out details of different coverages you can buy. These policies will show the cash limits – the maximum dollar amount that the insurer will reimburse you – for different coverages. That coverage may include the following:
1. Hospital room and board
2. Emergency room costs
3. Prescription drugs
4. Doctor’s office visit
5. Outpatient costs
6. Inpatient hospital costs
7. Ambulance costs
8. Emergency medical evacuation
And If You’re Feeling Lucky…
If you feel lucky and don’t want to buy emergency medical travel insurance, here’s an estimate of the costs for basic medical care services outside the United States.
A tumble down the stairs or an injury in an automobile accident will probably require the services of an ambulance. Even if you’re in a country with socialized medicine, you don’t count. That’s because you’re not a citizen of that country. You will be expected to pay cash. Expect to pay about $500. That’s for each ambulance trip.
The cost for a day in the hospital can run up to $2,000 per day in Australia, while the cost might be half that in France. And no, the US State Department is not your rich uncle who will help pay for emergency medical costs. The department will only assist you with transferring money from your accounts to a designated caregiver. You pay it all.
A visit to a doctor in another country is not exceedingly expensive. You can probably pop in for a doctor visit just about anywhere for $40 or less. Specialists, of course, may charge more. A travel policy insurer will help you find a doctor who will honor your emergency medical travel insurance.
Emergency Medical Evacuation
Pay attention. An emergency medical evacuation could bankrupt you.
This coverage will extract you from an area that has limited medical expertise and land you in an area where your medical emergency can be properly treated. That doesn’t mean a flight back home to the United States. You’ll be taken to a medical facility that can best treat your medical emergency.
The evacuation could be carried out by a medivac helicopter or airplane. These aircraft are specially outfitted with trained medical personnel and life-saving equipment. That’s expensive.
The cost for this service can run, on average, $50,000, according to the US State Department. The cost can exceed $100,000. This evacuation service nearly always operates on a cash-upfront basis. In other words, these companies will not take your old iPhone as a downpayment. It’s cash all the way. The right emergency medical travel insurance will cover this cost.
Other coverages are included with emergency medical travel insurance plans. It’s up to you to read the various plans to ensure you pay for the coverage you want. Talk with your insurer and ask questions.
You can buy coverage for as little as five days up to a renewable option for 36 months.
More Details About Travel Health Insurance
As with any medical insurance policy, be aware that these policies can be complex. They may have exclusions and requirements that you must meet before the policy becomes effective.
You can buy plans that include travel in the United States and other plans that are designed for travel outside the United States.
Also be aware that your personal medical policy that covers you in the United States may not cover you in a foreign country. Ask your insurer before starting a trip.
People on Medicare should not expect that program to pay medical expenses outside of the US. Some Medigap programs may cover some expenses. To be safe, Medicare recipients should buy medical travel insurance.
Travel insurance given out by credit card companies can have significant gaps in coverage. Again, buy health travel insurance to be safe.
More Tidbits About Travel Health Insurance
Let’s go through more details about travel health insurance, so you won’t get surprised.
The Beginning and End of Travel Health Insurance
Your policy will not go into force until you take off in the airplane or cruise ship. In some cases, you must leave your country’s border before the policy becomes effective. Understand, too, that the policy may not cover an illness or injury that happened before you embarked on your journey. The policy ends when you reenter your home country.
About That Number on Your Travel Medical Policy
After you buy your policy, the insurer will give you an identity card. It will have a number on it that identifies you as the holder of a specific policy. That number will activate your coverage and pay for emergency medical treatment.
Payments and Billing
As mentioned previously, many caregivers in other countries will expect you to pay upfront for medical emergencies. You may be required to pay a percentage of the care and be billed for the remainder. It’s simply impossible to know beforehand how payment is settled among caregivers in other countries. You will need to file a claim with your insurer for reimbursement.
Check First Before Treatment
Check your policy carefully to determine if you need a pre-authorization before medical treatment. If you don’t get an okay from your insurer before getting treatment, your reimbursement for medical care could be severely limited. Insurers may handle pre-authorization in different ways. It pays to shop around and buy a policy that you’re comfortable with.
Where to Find Medical Providers in Different Countries
Go to your insurance company and ask for a list. The company will have the names of medical providers who can not only care for you but also accept your travel medical insurance.
Your Best Bet
As can be seen, answering the question of what is emergency medical travel insurance is a complex answer. You want whatever is best for you and your family. You should buy enough coverage for basic emergency medical care. That would mean insuring these medical contingencies:
1. Hospital room and board
2. Ambulance costs
3. Emergency room costs
4. Emergency medical evacuation
The cost for this coverage will be determined by what limits you decide on. The choice is up to you.