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Travel Medical Insurance Plans for Expats

How does travel medical insurance come to play?

Imagine traveling to a distant place. You look forward to spending that special moment exploring new places. You also look forward to experiencing different cultures. It sounds like an exciting adventure. But the best way to enjoy your travel to the fullest is to be prepared for certain circumstances that might arise.

There is a possibility of facing a medical emergency. Some health conditions occur when you least expect them. Hence, the first thing you need to make sure of before traveling is what healthcare support will aid you when times like this happen.

If you have any questions or want to invest or get insured as an expat or high-net-worth individual, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use these contact options.

Travel medical insurance should not be a substitute for health insurance.

What is travel medical insurance?

Travel medical insurance serves as a fallback that accompanies you anywhere you go. The good news is that you could integrate this with your existing health insurance. This means it could offer an extra layer of coverage for you. 

We don’t know what awaits us. There might come a time when you inevitably sustain an injury or fall ill while you’re abroad. In this way, travel medical insurance steps in. It will provide you with the necessary emergency medical treatment at any time and place. This serves as reliable health support that will cover and assist your needs while you’re far away from familiar healthcare facilities.

But what does travel medical insurance really entail? It’s designed to cover unexpected health emergencies. If you happen to meet with an accident, catch an unforeseen illness, or face a medical situation that requires immediate attention, this insurance can ease your worries. From hospital stays to medical procedures, it ensures that you receive the care you need, even in a foreign land where healthcare systems might be unfamiliar. 

Another good thing about securing a travel health insurance plan is that unexpected medical costs might shock you. To secure your medical finances, travel medical insurance will do its best to cover these costs. You need to know that the majority of health insurance plans in the US only have limited coverage once you’re overseas. Hence, acquiring medical travel insurance could go a long way.

When do you need to acquire travel health insurance?

It’s recommended to have travel medical insurance, especially if you plan to travel outside of the United States. You may also think about choosing a complete health insurance plan. Although it might cost extra, it will surely cover things like travel cancellations, lost baggage, and delays. Most premium travel credit cards provide these advantages.

It was recorded that 13% of people had medical problems when going overseas that needed treatment, according to a GeoBlue survey from 2022. In addition, the survey indicated that 46% of customers anticipate using their current domestic health insurance plan, while 76% of consumers either don’t know how they would pay for medical care overseas or are likely to lack enough coverage. 

All tourists are advised to have travel medical insurance, especially: 

  • Children in families
  • Anyone traveling to a place where a foreign language is spoken
  • Individuals with ongoing illnesses
  • Solo Travelers
  • Vacationers going to a far-off place
travel medical insurance plans

What does travel medical insurance cover?

Single-trip and multi-trip forms of travel medical insurance typically provide coverage for costs associated with treating medical and dental emergencies that may arise during covered vacations. Most travel insurance policies include medical coverage, but some businesses also offer this option as a separate policy.

Travel medical insurance often includes coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation, in addition to covering the cost of doctor’s appointments, essential tests, and ambulance expenses. However, traditional health insurance does not cover normal medical treatment.

The insurer, plan, and medical providers’ maximums for travel medical coverage are affected by the age of the traveler. Emergency medical coverage often has a per-person maximum set by insurance plans, typically between $50,000 and $500,000. However, medical evacuation coverage often increases to $2 million.

Although there may be variable limitations on services like prescription medications, dental treatment, and ambulance rides, the majority of insurance carriers let you choose a different medical coverage limit.

The majority of insurance companies let you choose your deductible amount, and some even give no-deductible choices, but these are more expensive. Travel insurance will pay for eligible medical costs up to the policy’s maximum after you pay your deductible.

For medical visits and expenses that go above the limits of your coverage, you can still be required to provide a co-payment.

Standard Healthcare Coverage

The finest travel insurance providers offer packages that cover a range of common medical procedures. Prescription medicine, emergency dental care, lab work, X-rays, and medical visits for sickness and injuries are included. Some policies also cover telemedicine consultations overseas and physical therapy appointments required for an ailment that occurs while traveling.

Travel health insurance policies typically do not cover regular treatment. However, physical examinations, checkups, immunizations, and even dental cleanings are included in standard health care coverage. Plus, it also comprises doctor visits for managing pre-existing diseases, pregnancy care, and prescription refills.

Insurance often does not cover health care required as a result of drug abuse, self-harm, or involvement in risky or illegal activities. However, some policies may be supplemented with add-ons that cover dangerous pastimes like skiing and surfing. 

Urgent Medical Attention

Essential travel health insurance offerings cover expenses for necessary treatment in foreign hospitals for emergency situations like heart attacks, bone fractures, problems breathing, and severed limbs or fingers. Reimbursed costs include hospitalizations, anesthesia, operations, and diagnostic tests.

The insurer’s 24-hour hotline should have an English-speaking person readily available. They can provide you with guidelines for a hospital and instructions on how to explain your medical emergency to the professionals there. Additionally, a service person can reach you to check on you while you receive treatment and, if required, contact family members back home.

Emergency Evacuations

travel medical insurance emergency
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Your travel medical insurance covers transportation to the nearest medical institution. It can handle your particular situation under the emergency evacuation portion. Not only does this cover typical ambulance travel, but it also includes possible emergency air transportation.

More so, you can easily spend a longer stay at the hospital. If you worry about who will look after you while you’re hospitalized, you can have a friend or family member be there with you, as it’s also included in the coverage.

Furthermore, the plan includes repatriation coverage. You can request to be transferred back to your home country. This also applies if you pass away while traveling. Your family can then require the U.S. to retrieve your remains.

Does travel medical insurance cover COVID?

According to Forbes, several travel health insurance options cover COVID-related medical costs. But if COVID coverage is crucial to you, you should check before purchasing a plan because not all plans provide it.

COVID medical coverage will limit the benefits of the plan’s travel medical insurance portion. If you contract COVID while traveling, your medical expenses, including medications on prescription, doctor visits, and hospital stays, may be covered.

Additional travel insurance advantages, such as travel delay insurance, may cover the extra expenses associated with COVID quarantines. For instance, if COVID is caught while traveling and there is a need to prolong the stay due to quarantine, the travel insurance plan may be able to compensate for the additional expenses if it covers COVID.

Does travel health insurance cover pre-existing diseases?

You have to keep in mind that medical travel insurance may or may not cover pre-existing conditions. It heavily depends on the insurer and plan. Also, the type of your health condition may play a role in whether it’s included in the cover or not.

If you have been monitored and found out that your health has been stable, a higher chance of getting coverage must be anticipated. The typical look-back duration ranges from 60 to 180 days. If you had symptoms or received treatment for the ailment within that period, the insurance won’t cover associated medical costs.

Insurers who offer a pre-existing condition waiver can be discovered if you are willing to pay extra for higher-tier travel medical insurance coverage. This normally covers a certain dollar amount of emergency treatment for pre-existing conditions.

You must acquire foreign travel medical insurance within days after paying your first trip deposit to be eligible.

How much does travel health insurance cost?

The price of travel medical insurance is affected by a number of variables, such as your age, the length of your trip, and the plan’s coverage constraints and deductibles. The plans start at a few dollars a day per traveler and increase based on the amenities and degree of coverage. Travel insurance providers offer quotation adders on their websites to help you decide the cost of coverage.

Younger applicants, those who take a larger deductible, and those who select a plan with lower coverage limitations pay less for travel medical insurance, similar to normal health insurance costs.

Furthermore, a one-week vacation costs much less compared to going overseas for a month. This length of the trip also impacts the cost. More so, you can also obtain coverage at a lower cost if you have no pre-existing ailments or have no intention of partaking in any dangerous activities. Often, travel insurance plans that cover cancellations for any reason also incur additional costs.

When you decide on a travel medical insurance budget, you should consider the benefits of a less expensive plan compared to the possibility of facing greater out-of-pocket expenses due to coverage restrictions or exclusions. If you need to satisfy a large deductible to obtain treatment, even a somewhat cheaper plan may not make sense.

To discover the greatest bargain for the coverage you desire, it pays to learn about and compare policies from several insurers, like with any insurance product. Just choose reliable insurance rather than solely basing your decision on cost.

What are the pros and cons of travel medical insurance?

To give you a more realistic and transparent expectation, there are underlying advantages and disadvantages that you need to absorb when you avail yourself of travel medical insurance plans.

Advantages of travel medical insurance

  • Sense of Relief. Having the best travel medical insurance also means having peace of mind. You may be certain that your insurance will pay eligible medical expenses. This is as long as you meet the deductible. Just remember to not exceed the plan’s limits. Additionally, notwithstanding paying for your own medical care overseas, there might be several things that concern you. One of them is arranging it due to language barriers and unfamiliar medical systems. The majority of travel insurance packages include customer service, making it easy to get answers to your health-related questions and advice for emergency care.
  • Premiums Are Low. The cost of your trip will only be covered by other travel health insurance. Assuming you spend $5 a day, your insurance expenses will be just $70, which is good for a 14-day trip in your chosen country. 
  • Broad Plan Selection. Both travel insurance companies and traditional health insurers provide a broad variety of plan options at varying pricing ranges. The good thing is that there are enormously suitable options that you could select even if you don’t have health insurance or have pre-existing conditions.

Disadvantages of travel medical insurance

  • Plan Exclusions. It’s important to know things like your chosen plan’s exclusions. In this way, you could evade any out-of-pocket payments that are added to your premiums. Consider this: if you end up being caught in a situation that has either lightly or severely injured you, then there’s a chance that you will also be liable for your medical expenses. This goes the same when you are undergoing treatment for a pre-existing cardiac condition or having a heart attack in the middle of your travels.
  • Out-Of-Pocket Expenses Probability. It was said that medical emergencies might save you money through travel insurance for medical emergencies. However, you’re not exempt from the deductibles and co-payments. You may be required to pay the service provider in advance before they will repay you. You need to take note that maximums are applied by insurance companies and certain services. This entails the probability of increased expenses.

How to find the best deals for travel medical insurance

You have to choose the best from the list. Hence, you should refer to a trustworthy company. But how can you determine if it is trustworthy? First, it should only charge reasonable premiums. And second, it should provide comprehensive coverage, all in line with your medical requirements.

Top insurers offer reputable customer service and settle claims while being financially secure. Make sure to check the Better Business Bureau and its AM ratings to ensure that the firm you are working with is reputable. Financial strength can be determined by the highest scores.

Your current health insurance provider may offer its own travel health programs. For instance, GeoBlue plans with choices for trip-specific and long-term coverage are offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Obtain estimates from many providers and carefully review the plan features and exclusions to ensure that you have the best coverage for your needs and budget. Additionally, please confirm if you need to use a medical provider through a specific network and if there are local physicians available at your location.

Can you use your current health insurance when traveling abroad?

Even in an emergency, overseas coverage is often not provided by Medicaid or traditional Medicare. However, a few specific circumstances could provide you with partial coverage. In rare circumstances, Medicare may be able to fund ambulance transportation and emergency inpatient treatment if you are in a US territory but the nearest hospital is abroad.

On the other hand, some kind of overseas health insurance may be included in Medigap plans to increase the scope of your Medicare coverage. Then, after you pay a $250 deductible, they would reimburse you for 80% of your allowable medical costs abroad. The drawback is that there is a $50,000 lifetime cap.

Private health insurance plans with international coverage offer a broad range of options and frequently impose higher out-of-network rates. The insurer will likely only cover emergency care, and you may need to obtain the insurer’s prior authorization for treatment before any international coverage takes effect. Furthermore, individual insurance policies often do not cover emergency evacuations.

Keep in mind that your insurance company may enforce various deductible, coinsurance, and co-payment amounts for medical treatment received abroad.

Bottom Line   

Overall, traveling with a travel medical insurance policy can fill up any coverage gaps in your standard insurance. This coverage may make receiving emergency medical treatment easier, even though travel medical policies often do not cover regular care. Additionally, they could cover the cost of your return transportation.

However, you must acknowledge the effect of exclusions and potential out-of-pocket costs on your budget when choosing a plan so you can manage your expectations. Before enrolling in medical insurance for your desired international vacation, you need to be ready ahead of time. This should be associated with your location and planned activities. To travel is to help you get rid of your worries. So, this is your sign to have a travel health insurance plan you can best avail of in your town.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.



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