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Health insurance

I'll be staying in France for a month this summer and my friend will be with me for two weeks. I've been to Europe multiple times and it never occurred to me to get health coverage. Typically, US insurance does not cover us out of the country. What are your thoughts.... Insurance or not?

Posted by
14241 posts

Well, I have Medicare and a supplement. I got my particular supplement because it does cover internationally up to a certain amount. More important to me is med-evac coverage so I get a policy that covers both some medical and med-evac.

I know you said "HEALTH insurance" but will you have any costs that are non-refundable? I book with Delta and can cancel relatively last minute for a credit. I book refundable hotels that I can cancel within a certain number of days. I book train tickets and sometimes they are refundable and if not I've not lost a lot of money if I cancel. I sometimes take tours and sometimes get coverage for them, depending on the tour operator.

I think you have to look at the whole picture of what you want to cover. Do check with your current health insurer to see if it for sure does not cover you internationally.

And frankly, after Covid, I always make sure I've got coverage for medical and hospitalization for international trips.

Posted by
486 posts

Wow MaryJane, clearly you weren't raised by my mother. I'm 60 years old, and she still asks if I have good medical coverage before I leave for an international trip! Therefore, we always purchase a medical policy for international travel from GeoBlue. And many on this forum have referenced medical evacuation insurance with MedJet. Can't vouch for claims from either company, and this is not to be confused with travel insurance, which covers delays, cancellations, etc.

Posted by
18717 posts

For those of you that have a US policy that will pay European costs, I suspect that the will Reimburse your costs, but you will need to pay the actual bill out of your own pocket. So make sure you have $10000 or $20000 free on your credit card.

Posted by
9 posts

I have researched a bit so I believe I can get health insurance for traveling in France very affordably. Does anyone know how much or what kind of coverage I should get? I'm a healthy 52 year old woman.

Posted by
410 posts

So I’ve had to deal with this twice. If your expenses at most healthcare providers start to reach a certain level, your insurance company will work with your provider to cover the expenses. They’re not going to cover the expenses if you go the ER and get sent home the same day but if you get admitted and need cardiac assistance etc., generally the insurance company will call the hospital during working hours and work something out. We’ve had to do it twice. It was not a problem either time.

Posted by
8212 posts

Check your current health care coverage. Every policy I had in my working life covered us for emergency care abroad; many medicare gap policies cover you for tens of thousands in emergency care. When we relied on that we also had a policy that would cover medical evacuation which is likely to be the. most bank breaking cost. Now we have an annual policy on top of our medigap.

Posted by
18717 posts

You guys may be absolutely correct and your insurance company will (or apparently from the comments above, has) call the hospital in Bucharest between 1 am and 9 am CST (between 8am and 5pm in Bucharest) to discuss receipt of tranlated medical reports and wire transfers of money to the hospital to settle your account prior to you leaving.

Or

The hospital in Bucharest might trust that a month or two after you are gone your medical insurance carrier will have made full payment or in the event not, that they can mail a bill to your home Kansas City and you will pay it promptly.

But just in case something doesnt go as it apparently shouuld, I still feel comfortable with MedJet and their cash advance combined with a full European Medical Policy + my Medicare Advantage policy once i do get home one way or another. .

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for the feedback. I am only 52 and still employed so I don't have Medicare or any other retirement insurance. I'm a teacher and my home health insurance is not great. I will still welcome more information on where to get health coverage (what company provides this) and what it should cover.

Posted by
410 posts

I suggest you start with insuremytrip.com. Put in details and you can get policies and start reading.

Before I started buying an annual policy when asked what my trip is worth, I put some like $500 or $1000. I know that the airlines I fly will let me change my ticket for a reasonable fee (i jmean it’s not great but it wouldn’t be devastating). I never book Nonrefundable hotels because I have an 87-year-old mother on hospice and yes I probably would lose some tour tickets etc. but it’s just not material for me so all I want to is the medical. I don’t give them full value of my trip, because that bumps up the cost of the insurance. Plus there’s no need to insurance against things they are not going to cover. For example, with the with the hotel the insurance company is not going to pay me if the hotel either didn’t charge me or refunded it because I had a refundable stay

Posted by
27405 posts

Several people have mentioned here that they've bought travel medical policies from GeoBlue, which is part of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield family. I don't remember whether any of them have ever had to file a claim. I had a regular US BC/BS policy for almost my entire working life, and I found the company reasonable to work with. It reimbursed me for expenses incurred when I fell ill in Slovenia in 2015. Based on my own BC/BS experience (with a completely different policy from the one you would be buying, of course) I wouldn't hesitate to use GeoBlue if I needed to buy a travel medical policy. This is not to say it's the best choice for you.

It's important to keep in mind that insurance companies are businesses; they are not charities. They will not cover things outside what the written policies specify.

Posted by
4 posts

My insurance company offers a very reasonable supplement (I think it was something like $35 or $50 for 10 days when I traveled in December) to provide international coverage. I would check with your insurance to see what they offer.

Posted by
18717 posts

I use Allianz, but it is a European expat policy. It has paid 100% of every thing billed to them. I also have the MedJet expat policy for getting home to my "regular" coverage.

Posted by
486 posts

Just to clarify, you do not need to have medical insurance with Blue Cross/Blue Shield to purchase international medical insurance from Geo Blue, though you do have to have a primary policy insurance that covers you in the US.

Posted by
2 posts

On a trip to Bordeaux and northern Spain, we bought just a medical travel policy from Allianz. It wasn't very expensive, but covered us well. One of us used the urgent care in Spain and it covered everything, plus a prescription. Just keep all documentation.

Posted by
8212 posts

I had an Allianz travel insurance policy when I managed to break my elbow in several places in southern France and had surgery and several days in the hospital. It paid the hospital directly and reimbursed me for follow up care in Paris including physical therapy (continuing my trip, saved my trip and saved them money flying me back). I now have an annual policy with Allianz which I hope to never use so don't know how good it will be.

Many US policies cover limited care abroad, so first look carefully at your own poiicy and see if it offers emergency care out of the country. If not, definitely et a travel policy that covers medical care. and includes flying you home if necessary. For years we only had a Medjet assist policy because our health insurance covered emergency care. Medjet flies you from an international hospital to your home hospital which is the cost that will bankrupt you if you need it.

Posted by
284 posts

I did extensive research for our 3 month trip. Unfortunately, our medi-gap insurance would only cover 2 months overseas (Blue Shield). The real reason I wanted insurance though was for trip interruption or evacuation. After much research, the cost of an ER visit in France is $25. Most of MD office visits are the same. So the exorbitant prices that insurance policies charge is ridiculous. The trip interruption was from a previous hospitalization that delayed our trip by months. We lost about $5000 because of that. Medjet is a reasonable policy because it will be for an entire year. Medical evac from the most expensive trip (I believe from Australia to the States) is about $20,000-$50,000. Otherwise, and this is from memory, about $10,000-$20,000 from Europe to San Francisco, Max. Of course, that would be determined by needs and whether you just need a nurse companion (which would also upgrade you to first class), or full medical emergency evacuation. This is probably more than you wanted to know, yet, to get a breakdown from most insurances includes everything, not just medical insurance. I'll take a look at insure my trip because it might be a better deal. BTW, I used Squaremouth to compare travel insurances.

I also now only buy refundable reservations. Will now be doing the same with Airbnb because our other insurance wouldn't likely cover a glitch there. We almost lost $4000, because the host was sick and couldn't supervise certain issues in her apartment. Thankfully she completely understood our position and granted the refund. You can only buy the insurance at time of reservation with airbnb. I don't know about vrbo.

Posted by
18717 posts

Sue, doing the research yourself proves you to be a reliable source.

Here is how I look at it, and it isn’t to say there is anything wrong at all with your logic. I suspect given the numbers you are dealing with that we travel in different circles and classes and that does impact decision making. Then there is peace of mind. Don’t know how you put a dollar figure on that.

Most of my hotel bookings have free cancelation up to a few days prior to arrival, so I don’t worry too much about that, but yes, something could happen on the last day. I could easily lose $1000 if I got sick the day before. Praise G-d, hasn’t happened yet.

I fly cheap and this is probably where what works for you doesnt necessarily work as well for me. To upgrade for free cancelation would add $300 to $500 to a RT ticket. I am more settled now, but over the last 20 years I have flown across one ocean or another not less than 60 times.

Let’s use the low end of $300 additional cost and say I am exaggerating a bit and I only took 50 trips. The added cost would have been $15,000. $15,000 divided by a $1500 rt ticket (also probably high) means that for the $15,000 to be recovered I would have to recover the cost on at least 10 trips. It will happen someday, but to date I have never not flown on a ticket I purchased and to the best of my recollection I have only changed two flights at $200 each.

But the travel insurance will also pick up all the smaller things like the pre-paid guides or theater tickets or train tickets between points, etc…… I will give you that.

I guess if I were younger and smarter and knew that I would be traveling as much as I have, I could have put $300 in an escrow account each trip and called it self-insurance.

With regards to the medical, that’s a whole different thing and very location specific. I know nothing about the medical costs and quality of care in France and assume you are correct in the costs and satisfied with the quality of the public healthcare system.

I spend a lot of time in Eastern Europe. I live in the EU in an Eastern European country. For emergency care the public system is all that is available. We had RS person here a few months back that found herself in our local public care system with a life-threatening situation. They did an excellent job apparently. But the conditions were not what Americans are used to. Large wards, bring your own food, bring your own toilet paper sort of things. But the bill for procedures and days in the hospital was not more than what most of us carry in our wallets every day. And that wasn’t discussed until discharge.

For less than life threatening emergencies in Eastern Europe, I go to a private clinic. They do some out-patient surgeries as well. The prices are substantially lower than the US, but its still real numbers. For that I have a medical insurance policy. For the most tragic of situations I have MedJet and Medicare in the states.

Posted by
8212 posts

Note that a policy that covers 60 days may not (probably will not) cover the first 60 days of a 90 day trip. Medigap might, but travel insurance policies definitely don't. You must have coverage for the whole 90 days (or whatever the trip is) to have any of it covered. And insurance companies always start with 'how can we deny these people coverage). -- when I fell and. broke my elbow in a castle ruin, the company was very stern about whether this was a pre-existing condition. Obviously an elbow broken in 6 places wasn't but apparently if I had a pre-existing condition that made me clumsy that might have caused them to reject. I always got the insurance immediately on booking the flight, or renting the apartment, so pre-existing conditions were covered. But don't assume anything is covered unless you conform to all the rules. And having coverage for the total trip is one of those rules.

Posted by
4064 posts

The question of evacuation insurance -- that is, being moved back home, is also vital (pun intended). It might include such things as flying a close friend or relative to your bedside as companion. Or not; there are many variables. Yes it is pricy. And like all personal insurance, the rates go up along with your age. As a senior, I wouldn't leave without it.

Posted by
28 posts

I was checking out MedJet and I got to a part that says if you are 75-84 you have to have your application signed off on by you doctor. Has anyone had an experience with how great an increase in cost there might be?

Posted by
1170 posts

This doesn't apply to everyone, but if you plan on participating in several activities and particularly extreme sports, they may require a note from your doctor. I parachuted into Normandy with a bunch of reenactors in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-day. In addition to all the standard requirements (U.S. license, currency, equipment checks, etc.) they required I get a letter from my doctor attesting to my fitness. My doc was concerned and she made me have a stress test before she would write the letter. I am guessing maybe things like parasailing or rock climbing may be similar.

Posted by
8212 posts

Because we aged out of MedJet Assist we have purchased a similar policy from another company. No idea how good it is -- because we hope to never use it, but we are insured for dust off by AirMed.

Posted by
8 posts

Hello MaryJane,

Please note that most travel insurance companies requires you to buy it soon after you book your flight/hotel etc. to ensure that you will be covered if you have a medical issue before the trip that would cause you to cancel - i.e. pre-existing condition.

I am only interested in medical insurance and medical evacuation back to the US instead of the rest of the "insurance product" for delayed baggage, missed flight, etc.

I purchased a policy from AIG (Travel Guard) for about $500 for a 3-week trip to France for 2 people that includes medical insurance ($100,000) and medical evacuation ($1 million). This was for $8,000 worth of expenses that would not be easy to get refunded (advance tickets for concerts and museums, tours, etc.)

I did not include the cost of the refundable flights in the calculations of the $8,000 of coverage.