Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Alarming Data on Health Care Abroad for American Travelers

A surprising number of Americans are unclear about the cost of medical care when traveling. A 2017 survey from InsureMyTrip, the authority on travel insurance, found that many travelers are unclear whether their domestic health insurance works outside the US.
• Thirty-five percent polled were not sure whether their domestic health insurance plan would cover any doctor or hospital visits while traveling out of the country.
• Thirty-five percent said it would provide coverage, while thirty percent believed their domestic health insurance plan would offer no coverage.
So, what's the right answer? It's complicated. Big insurance providers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna, and Aetna may provide emergency and urgent care coverage abroad. However, the definition of emergency varies. Medicare will not pay for inpatient hospital, doctor, or ambulance services you get in a foreign country.

Travelers can request clarification of coverage prior to departure. Here’s how:
1. Call your medical insurance provider
2. Ask to review your certificate of coverage for explanation of benefits
3. Ask for hospitals and doctors in area of travel
What about emergency medical evacuations? According to the US State Department, very few health insurance companies will pay for a medical evacuation back to the United States, which can easily cost up to $100,000, or even more, depending on your condition and location.

In addition to seeking proper medical protection, travelers can also reduce health risks by learning about destination-specific medical concerns, including required vaccinations. The US State Department is a helpful resource. The US Federal Consumer Action Handbook also provides travel insurance recommendations for travelers (Source: USAGov in Technology Transformation Service, General Services Administration).

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