Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, a trip abroad takes a lot of research and planning before the fun (or work) begins. In addition to looking up flights, hotels, attractions, eateries, and how to ask, “Where's the restroom?,” in a new language, there's another important topic you should explore before you go: health insurance. There is always a risk of experiencing an unexpected illness or an injury on a trip. And, if you need medical care in another country, you don't want to be on the hook for the full expense if you can avoid it.
You've likely done careful budgeting to figure out how to finance your vacation, so the last thing you want (besides a health-related setback!) is an unexpected medical bill. Travel health insurance can help provide financial protection if you need medical care while abroad. This not only can provide peace of mind, but it can help you avoid potentially devastating financial losses if you become sick or hurt.
What Is Travel Health Insurance?
Travel health insurance can provide coverage for expenses, including hospital stays, emergency medical care, and transportation costs when you're away from home. The specific coverage and benefits of each policy vary depending on the plan and the insurance provider, so it's important to understand what's covered and what isn't before choosing. Of course, you’ll want to keep your costs reasonable, but you'll also want to be covered for the most likely scenarios.
Do I Really Need It?
Your first step in figuring out the answer to this question should be to check with your regular health insurance provider to determine whether your policy provides coverage for medical expenses incurred while abroad. If it's covered and you feel the coverage is sufficient, you may not need to look any further. Keep in mind, even if your regular policy offers some coverage, it may be limited or may not cover certain types of medical care, so ask about specifics. And it's important to note that Medicare isn't accepted abroad. Some credit cards offer travel insurance that may cover medical care, so that can be another option to explore. The cost of medical care can be much higher in other countries, especially if you need emergency care, so if your regular policy doesn't cover that, look into additional coverage.
It's also worth noting that some countries actually require proof of health insurance before they'll allow entry, including Cuba, Antarctica, and the United Arab Emirates.
What Types Are Available?
The kinds of policies you can choose from include:
How Should I Choose a Policy?
When making this decision, consider:
Once you've purchased insurance, be sure to carry your insurance card and/or a copy of your policy with you during your trip. If you do find yourself in need of medical care while abroad, the U.S. Embassy will be able to provide information about local doctors and hospitals. Even if you don't expect to run into medical issues, a sudden illness or accident can cause a huge financial loss. It's best to be prepared.
As always, we're happy to answer any questions you might have about this topic as you figure out your insurance needs. And we wish you happy and healthy travels!
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