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Travel Health Insurance

I was told that it is best to get travel insurance and for good reason. COVID-19 messed up everyone's travel plans including my own. However, should I get health insurance for countries that have universal health coverage? I am not on Medicare or Medicaid. Do I have to buy health coverage; does my insurance from home work; does the country's health system cover me.

Posted by
25713 posts

I'm afraid you will need to give more details.

Which country?

What does the fine print of your insurance from home say?

Posted by
2914 posts

You don't indicate your country of residence, but since you mention Medicare, I'm assuming you are American. As Nigel said, you'll have to ask your own health insurance company whether or not they cover out of country expenses. Odds are that it won't, but some may.

"Universal health care" in most countries only refers to its own residents, not tourists. That's one of the reasons that travel health insurance exists. You would have to be specific as to which countries you will be visiting.

Posted by
7467 posts

does my insurance from home work;

Only your carrier can answer that question with certainty.

Posted by
5963 posts

Even if your regular medical insurance works overseas, it often means you have to pay your medical bills yourself, submit a claim when you get home, and wait for reimbursement. Doctors and hospitals overseas dont necessarily have working relationships with foreign insurance companies, so they expect you to pay and leave the insurance issues up to you. Medicare doesnt cover anything overseas anyway for anybody, without paying extra for supplemental insurance.

Posted by
1940 posts

does my insurance from home work

It may also be a "yes and no" answer based on the level of coverage you want. My home health insurance covers emergency and urgent care worldwide, but preventive and non-urgent care only within their home network. My home health insurance will pay some costs of transportation to a nearby healthcare facility; it will not pay for me to be transported home or to the facility of my choice.

Posted by
85 posts

mintelegator, when you research travel insurance plans, be sure to check whether medical evacuation is covered. Health insurance plans that do cover medical expenses abroad might not cover the (potentially astronomical) cost of getting you home for further treatment.

Also, if you will be traveling anytime soon, note that the vast majority of travel insurance plans have a clause that stops all benefits in the event of a government-declared epidemic or pandemic.

Posted by
1 posts

Heath insurance has been a consistent conundrum for us since we became nomads. Like you, we evaluate our options each year based on our plans and circumstances. Awesome that you found something that doesn't exclude COVID.

Posted by
5656 posts

Actually, I believe that insurance always covered treatment for COVID if you contracted it -- what it did not cover was cancelling your trip because of the fear of COVID or inability to travel due to governmental closures.

Posted by
3132 posts

It’s pretty easy to find out if your home health insurance covers you outside the U.S. pick up the phone. You also may have some coverage through credit cards, AAA membership, etc. it’s worth checking. National health systems do not cover tourists; however, I have heard tales of folks receiving free urgent care on a small scale - - e.g., sprained joint, food poisoning,etc. - - because the doc said that the payment was not worth the paper work. I would never count on that, however. Also, to make a sensible decision, it is good to know that medical attention is far less expensive in Europe than in the U.S.

Posted by
21192 posts

Since routine medical care is pretty reasonable in European countries you should be able to self-insure -- we do. What we worry about the most is a very severe medical problem and the need to be evacuation home. That can be very expensive so we carry med vac insurance to get us home. And don't confuse general traveling insurance with medical insurance. Travel insurance primarily covers disruption of travel plans, cancellation fees, etc. and not medical. Medical should be a separate policy. AND --- always read the fine print because everything is not automatically covered just because you think it should be. For travel insurance your premium should be around 5 to 10% of the total costs insured.

Posted by
5963 posts

Gael, they do - for their own citizens, not for every foreigner who happens to be there. Its important to note that even if your US medical insurance covers international medical costs, its not necessarily seamless. You would likely have to pay the provider yourself, and then get reimbursed from your insurer, so paperwork is important for your claim. Foreign hospitals don't normally deal with (or care about) US insurance companies, so there is no established system for them to deal directly with your insurer.