Do Health Insurance Benefits Cover Someone While They Travel Out Of Country?

Do health insurance benefits cover someone while they travel out of country? Most will cover emergency treatment, which the member will be required to pay for at the time of service, then submit a claim form to their insurance company for reimbursement.

"It usually depends on the policy specifications and the insurance company. Most will cover emergency treatment, which the member will be required to pay for at the time of service, then submit a claim form to their insurance company for reimbursement. I worked with a client that spent 2 months in a hospital in India, the spouse paid the bill, we then filed with Blue Cross of Georgia and the member was later reimbursed most of what they spent," recounts Cindy J. Holtzman, Director of Operations at Medical Billing Advocates of America (MBAA). So while often times your medical insurance will cover your health care expenses accrued while abroad, it may require the aid of a knowledgeable medical insurance billing professional to wrangle the funds out of the health insurance company. If you are a frequent traveler of other countries, you may want to check with your health insurance company on what your medical insurance policy covers in those situations. You will also want to find out what billing procedures would take place and how you would go about recouping your funds if necessary.

On a side note, Ms. Cindy J. Holtzman adds, "Medicare will not pay for "out of the country" services. They will consider emergency medical treatment from Canada and Mexico."

If you travel to other countries often, and either know for sure or simply fear that your medical insurance won't be too useful should an unfortunate health related event happen, you may want to look into Global Travel Health Insurance. This health insurance covers emergency costs such as an emergency room visit, emergency surgery, hospital stay, ambulance ride, prescriptions, x-rays, and the like. If you are visiting a country without proper necessary health care facilities, Global Travel Health Insurance covers the cost to either fly you to the nearest country that can treat your emergency needs, or even fly you back to the United States for medical care on home turf. This type of health insurance can be costly, but the cost of being without it could be astronomical. Global Travel Health Insurance is available to individuals as well as group plans for employer's to provide for their well-traveled employees.

There is Travel Health Insurance UK for when you are traveling straight from your home country to the United Kingdom. Depending on the policy you purchase, the insurance covers emergency expenses, medical costs, hospital bills, a flight home in the case of an emergency, and legal expenses. A more comprehensive policy may cover things like the expense of obtaining a new passport, the loss of personal assets due to a mugging or natural disaster, lost luggage, lost personal money, trip cancellation, travel delays, etc. However, if you travel to the United Kingdom with the intention of becoming a permanent resident any hospital treatment you may need will be free of charge as long as you can provide some sort of proof that you live there and are legal to do so.

One final note, the activities you participate in while traveling abroad may not be covered by your insurance. Check and see if things like scuba diving, skiing, or any other physical activity that could lead to injury will not interfere with policy coverage restrictions. Keep in mind, outlandishly dangerous activities (running with bulls, jumping off of cliffs, etc.) will not be covered and you will be participating at your own risk and expense.

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