It’s a dilemma we’d rather not contemplate when planning a trip: What if a medical crisis strikes while I’m traveling? What if I’m too ill to travel home? Does my medical insurance cover me in another country?
Every traveler needs to face a few realities before leaving home. Obtaining medical treatment abroad can be expensive, and U.S. medical insurance generally is not accepted outside the United States. Medicare and Medicaid programs also do not cover medical costs outside the country. And, if you are too ill to travel, medical evacuation back to the United States can cost from $20,000–100,000, depending on location, travel distance and severity of the illness.
The World Health Organization advises travelers to carry travelers’ medical insurance for destinations where health risks are significant and medical care is expensive or not readily available. Whatever your destination, however, you should consider purchasing a short-term travel medical insurance policy, especially if your own medical insurance does not cover you abroad.
Specialized healthcare for travelers is a rapidly growing business. Many private companies now cover hospitalization and medical care in case of illness or injury, repatriation for health reasons, medical evacuation via air ambulance and expenses incurred due to illness-related changes in itinerary. Some also guarantee access to English-speaking medical professionals.
Rates for policies naturally vary depending on the specific terms and length of travel. Since these are short-term policies, however, they are relatively inexpensive and can provide great peace of mind. Packages are designed to cover individuals, families, groups, senior citizens and students studying or traveling abroad, and for lengths of stay as short as a few days. Annual policies may offer the best value for frequent travelers or Americans living abroad for extended periods.
Keep in mind that while the U.S. Embassy can assist travelers in finding medical care, travelers are still responsible for the expense. Before you travel, check with your U.S. medical insurance provider to see if you are covered abroad and the details of that coverage. If traveling on business, find out if your company provides employees with international travel medical insurance.
Following are several companies that offer travel medical insurance; for a more comprehensive list visit the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs website (http://travel.state.gov/travel/). As with the purchase of any insurance policy, do your research: Read the details, speak to a representative, ask questions and determine the amount and type of coverage that will suit your needs.
MedjetAssist (http://www.medjetassist.com) offers more of a membership program than a health insurance plan. Several programs are available, from annual domestic or international memberships for individuals and families to expatriate memberships for U.S. citizens living abroad. For an additional annual fee, the Plus Program provides services such as online medical and document storage, free international cell phone rental, personal travel advisors, discounted satellite phone rental, cash advance for medical emergencies and specialty transport services. Unlike many evacuation services, MedjetAssist lets travelers choose the hospital they want to be transported to for treatment.
MEDEX (http://www.medexassist.com) offers travel medical insurance for business and leisure travelers, government contractors, academic travelers and non-profit organizations. Their basic plan provides short-term medical insurance, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation and worldwide 24-hour medical assistance. Travelers pay a daily rate determined by age plus a co-pay per illness or injury. The plan covers trips of seven to 90 days; if you average more than five trips per year, a different rate applies. Other programs offer coverage based on age, length of travel, selected medical benefits and selected deductibles. MEDEX SafeTrip provides emergency evacuation, repatriation, and worldwide travel assistance for those traveling 100 or more miles from home. All programs include multilingual experts available 24/7 to help with medical, travel, legal, security and other travel-related emergencies.
TravelersMed (http://www.travelersmed.com) provides a variety of short-term international policies for individuals or families. Plans vary from five days to three years, with coverage from $50,000 to $2 million and a choice of deductibles. Short-term policies for travelers age 70 and older may have maximum benefit limitations. Those under age 50 whose adventures will include hazardous or extreme sports — everything from scuba diving to whitewater rafting to rock climbing — can enroll in the Patriot Extreme policy (many medical plans do not cover extreme sports).
Travel Guard (http://www.travelguard.com) offers travel medical insurance for international and domestic travel, including worldwide medical evacuation that will transport you home or to the hospital of your choice, plus cover any qualified medical expenses you may incur. The plans are available on a per-trip or annual basis and include 24/7 assistance. You can receive a quote for an annual membership or single trip by entering your travel information at their website.
Read This Next
2004 / April 2004Sep 1, 2010
All Reads on This Topic
Read Them All
FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
Diego Rivera’s America Presents the Most In-Depth Look at Artist’s Work in More than 20 Years
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville, Arkansas, presents Diego Rivera’s America, the first major exhibition focused solely on the Mexican artist in more than 20 years, on view until July 31. Crystal Bridges is the second and final stop for the exhibition, the only remaining opportunity for visitors to experience Rivera's expansive vision of America.
What Business Travel Looks Like Now From Those Who Know It Best
Pack your bags, traveling for business is making a comeback — and the role of the corporate travel manager is more important than ever.
San Antonio, Texas, Preserves Architectural Beauty for Future Generations
In San Antonio, Texas, old buildings are seldom destroyed. When they fall into disrepair, they are instead repurposed and restored to maintain the city’s history and traditions for future generations to appreciate. Whether it’s a former brewery or bank transforming into a chic hotel or a candy factory evolving into stylish lofts, this Texas city embraces both history and sustainability.
Here’s How to Arrive in Style to the World’s Most Unforgettable Hotels
Make a grand entrance to these equally grand hotels:
Fill Your Heart with Ireland
Whether it's the people, the craic (fun) or the coasts, travelers always find something to love about the island of Ireland. What fills your heart?
SponsoredJun 1, 2023
Protected: MORE TO TRAVEL
There’s more to travel than just getting there.
Park Hyatt Tokyo Prepares for Its New Look
London Concours Displays Golden Age Coupes
Fill Your Heart with Ireland
DailyMay 31, 2023
Pick These Resorts and Destinations for a Day of Self Care on Global Wellness Day
Celebrate Global Wellness Day on June 10 with a visit to one of these resorts or destinations.
Share Your Travel Preferences with Global Traveler in a Short Survey & Win
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
eFlyer ReviewsMay 31, 2023
Homer and Janet by Homer Review
The Marais District, covering swaths of Paris’ 3rd and 4th arrondissments, has a distinctively gritty glamour that reveals it to be one of the city’s great incubators for new French food, fashion and lifestyle trends. It is here Moïse Sfez took on the challenge of creating street food establishments Homer in 2017 and Janet by Homer in 2022, doing it in such a way they both transcend the novelty of being regional American comfort food offered at stylized lunch counters matching up with New England lobster shacks and New York delis. Overwhelming local response and Sfez winning the 2018 Lobster Roll World’s Championship title in Portland, Maine, solidified him as a Paris restaurateur and one of France’s hottest culinary stars.