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Health insurance when traveling overseas

health insurance when traveling overseas

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There are plenty of good reasons for purchasing insurance while traveling abroad. Social Security Medicare benefits don’t apply when individuals are traveling outside the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs. Some consumers’ traditional insurance policies won’t cover all medical care types for those abroad; in many cases, the cost of medical evacuation to the United States (which can cost $50,000) won’t be covered. In some cases, uninsured travelers may be refused medical care when traveling abroad. Countries with socialized medical care may not cater to travelers, only residents. Additionally, when traveling abroad, you may encounter countries requiring proof of travel insurance before granting entry.

Current Insurance

Before purchasing additional travel insurance, contact your current insurance provider to learn what the coverage includes. Ask whether the policy will cover your return to the United States should you become ill, and if the insurance covers high-risk activities such as scuba diving or parasailing. If the policy requires pre-authorizations or second opinions before covering emergency services, this could result in a delay when seeking medical care abroad. Learn whether your insurance coverage will reimburse foreign doctors or health care providers directly, or if you will be expected to

pay upfront and then receive a reimbursement.


If desired, purchase insurance for traveling abroad from a travel agent, tour company or directly from a provider. It’s possible to bundle travel-related insurance to include medical care and travel insurance for events such as lost luggage, cancellations or trip interruptions. Some policies may cost 6 percent to 7 percent of your trip’s total cost, depending on desired benefits. Other policies charge per day; for example, you may pay $2 per day, according to “U.S. News and World Report.”


When traveling abroad with a preexisting condition, bring a letter from your physician describing the condition, prescription drugs being taken and the names of comparable generic drugs. Not all medical evacuations will return you to the United States; for example, if you require medical evacuation while traveling in India, you may be transported to Singapore. And not all travelers may require special insurance while traveling abroad, although it’s recommended for those with pre-existing conditions or individuals traveling in locations where they’d rather not receive surgery. Consumers with homeowner's insurance, traditional medical insurance or credit cards with generous benefits programs may already have adequate coverage; purchasing travel insurance for medical care or lost luggage would be redundant.

Category: Insurance

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