Some health insurance carriers in the U.S. do provide some level of coverage for medical emergencies that occur while traveling abroad. It’s important for travelers to carefully examine their current health insurance coverage against their planned itinerary to determine which medical services, if any, will be covered if you get into an accident or become ill while traveling outside the U.S.
The following are the things to consider:
- exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions
- out-of-network policy services
- coverage for pregnancy complications
- exclusions for high-risk activities such as SCUBA diving and mountain climbing
- exclusions for injuries due to terrorist attacks or acts of war
- whether pre-authorization is necessary for treatment
- whether a second opinion is required for emergency treatment
Another consideration is whether there is a toll-free number the traveler can call 24-hours a day for plan information and/or to speak to a representative.
While Medicare and Medicaid will not cover services outside the U.S., some traveler insured by more liberal plans may find that they have some coverage available outside the country.
Typically, even if you are covered abroad, you’ll have to pay for your care out of pocket and submit a claim with the receipts and medical records for reimbursement. That being said, an injured or ill traveler should not wait to contact their health insurance provider until after they return. The sooner you can get in touch and let them know that you are in trouble, the better.