Healthcare for Travel Abroad
By Zeffrey Johnson
Travel is meant to be fun and exciting. Seeing the sites, enjoying the company of friends and family, and enjoying the exotic food….all while making your everyone else on your Facebook feed envious. What could be better right?! Well as summer comes into full bloom more and more of us have a dream destination in mind and for many of us, that does not staying in the US. Adventure awaits us but did you ever think of what would happen if you became ill while being adventurous? Dream vacation, yes but IT IS POSSIBLE….we can run into the wrong burrito here in the states much less overseas….and what about that rock climbing you thought you could do despite the love affair you have going on with your couch every afternoon. Things happen! Before we get too far down the road, I do have a solution for you but let’s clear up some misconceptions about your current healthcare first.
For instance, Did you know…
Just because you have GREAT healthcare coverage here at home that it does not translate when traveling overseas? Yes, many carriers will give their clients some coverage but don’t expect to have the same blanket coverage you have at home. The only way to truly know is to have a frank conversation with your carrier and they can give you some general information on what you can expect.
Things to consider:
What is Covered? Depending on the insurance policy, many will cover “overseas emergencies”. Your interpretation of an emergency can vary widely with that of your fellow travelers. That said, the industry uses the “prudent layperson” standard as their measuring stick. Meaning, if the average person believes they may die from their condition, the client can reasonably assume that their visit to the hospital may be covered, even if the event turns out to be innocuous. With all that taken into account, it is best to contact your carrier as soon as possible so they can guide you to the right places and see the right people as well as making sure you are covered. For those minor or non-threatening conditions, it is best to contact your carrier, knowing you may end up ponying up some cash to get relief.
Who do I see? Do you really want to count on a foreign phone book ad to determine the credibility of your doctor? Like I said, talking to your carrier is a great start in being seen by a credible, U.S. quality doctor. Another place to go would be the U.S. consulate or embassy. They will have a list of doctors in the area but they will be sure to tell you that they don’t endorse any of the providers.
Socialist Healthcare? If I are going to a country that provides free health care, I should be good! Right? Not so much… Free healthcare is intended for the inhabitants of the place you are visiting, not the cheeky, visiting American who has a tummy ache. So what now? Expect to come out of pocket to pay your bills, then get reimbursed by your healthcare provider. Don’t expect your carrier to cough up the cash quickly either. The process (if they cover it) may take months after you have filed a claim and provided them with itemized receipts.
Medicare/Medicaid? If all you have is Medicare or Medicaid, in a nutshell, you’re screwed! The two programs are meant to cover you in the United States and territories of the U.S. Medicare may cover you if you are in the U.S. but the nearest hospital is, say in Mexico or Canada but don’t expect much beyond this for coverage while traveling overseas.
Travel insurance? Travel insurance is sometimes mistaken for health insurance, but the two are actually very different. Travel insurance may cover accidents and emergency care, but is often more focused on providing coverage for trip delays and lost luggage. It is best not to rely on travel insurance for your medical needs.
The painting for coverage has been displayed in very gloomy undertones so far. Never fear…there is an affordable way to get healthcare coverage while overseas. Many of the major U.S. carriers offer International Health Insurance plans that last for days up to over a year and can be renewed. These policies provide the same sort of coverage you would have at home: hospital stays, emergency care and even routine examinations. A typical travel medical plan can range from $50-$100 for a short overseas trip. The premium amount will vary depending on, the length of the trip, the age of the traveler and medical & evacuation coverage limits.
Here are a few situations where International Medical Insurance might be a good idea:
- US Citizens going abroad. Most of us don’t have the luxury of traveling for more than a week or two at a time but those two weeks could be life changing without coverage.
- Business travelers working overseas. Have you ever sat in a budget meeting? I have! Let’s be frank here….you might be on your companies dime but let a fat medical bill drop into their lap that you are counting on them to take care of. Instead, drop an insurance premium bill in their lap. If they are sending you overseas, best believe they expect a sizable return on their investment and many practical business people won’t blink an eye when it comes to paying the minimal cost of coverage.
- Ex-patriots & long-term travelers. I could only be so lucky to have an extended trip to what would seem like paradise. Well, you turned the “dream” into “reality” and you didn’t get this far by being ill-prepared. Get covered!
- Missionary and Foreign Aid work. Nothing ever happens to someone being a blessing to someone else right? *Insert Sarcasm here* No, seriously guys….for some of the work done, you’ll likely be dealing with some unsavory situations….not always, but be properly protected when and if you do.
- U.S. Visitors. Friends and family coming to visit from overseas? They can be covered with a policy to protect them while they are here.
As we discussed earlier, many of your domestic policies will require you to be reimbursed, requiring them to pay for medical care, including the cost of hospital rooms, up front. Temporary health insurance for international travel will cover those up front medical costs. To find out more, contact Sunrise Monetary Solutions, LLC at 1-844-2QuoteMe (1-844-278-6836). Sunrise can tailor a plan for your specific needs and give you the peace of mind you need when traveling the globe.
About the Author
Zeffrey T. Johnson is the owner of Sunrise Monetary Solutions and QwikiTAX, an Insurance Brokerage and Tax Preparation service respectively. While QwikiTAX specializes in personal tax returns, Sunrise Monetary Solutions provides business and personal finance solutions including auto home, life, health insurance and employee benefits.
Zeffrey has a dual degree in Accounting and Business Management from Missouri State University and has over 15 years of experience dealing with accounting and finance related issues. He has served as an auditor in various roles for CPA firms large and small and extensive experience as a business consultant. Zeffrey has audited or consulted with many of the larger companies in Kansas City, in addition to working with governmental agencies like the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation. He was also named Kansas City’s 2015 & 2016 Tax Preparer of the year by Thumbtack.com.
On a lighter note, Zeffrey, his wife (Regina) and three kids (Amayah, Zander and Tiana) live in Lawrence, KS. He enjoys watching football and learning about photography. He attends Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church and is active on several church committees.
His office is located at the VFW Building, 406 West 34th Street, Suite 105A, KCMO 64111 and can be reached at 1-844-2QuoteMe (1-844-278-6836)