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Your Medical Insurance and Foreign Travel

Foreign travel should be fun and relaxing. You spend a lot of time and money planning foreign travel for vacations, work, or even visiting family abroad. One of the little known facts about foreign travel is the limitation of medical insurance benefits outside of the United States. Most group and individual medical plans feature limited benefits for medical care in foreign countries. For retirees who are on Medicare, the Medicare program provides very little of the medical benefits you may need abroad. For students who are traveling on internships or study programs abroad, it is equally important to verify what benefits their current medical insurance plan will provide abroad. If you or a loved one are planning a trip abroad, let's talk during your planning phase. It's my job to make sure you or your loved one(s) are adequately protected in the event of medical emergencies in other countries. To understand more about this coverage and its necessity, read more about it below. When you are ready, call me. Let's be sure you are properly covered. ~Tim Bruner ~Sue Huff, CLTC, Sales Representatives

Do You Need a Travel Plan for Medical Care Abroad?

Many of our clients travel internationally on business or pleasure. In some cases, their children are students involved in a foreign exchange program, or they may even be taking a missionary trip. Regardless of the excursion reason, your current medical plan may not provide all of the coverage you or a loved one need out of the country. In fact, Medicare is very limited on the benefits it provides outside of the United States. Some individual medical insurance and group medical insurance plans have limits on what and when they will pay for benefits needed in another country. Very few insurance plans cover an emergency trip back to the United States which is very costly.

You may find it interesting to note that our government also warns you about the challenges of medical benefits in foreign countries. Check page 2 of your U.S. Passport. You will find the following warning:

"HEALTH INSURANCE. Persons considering foreign travel should determine what health insurance coverage, if any, they require while outside the United States. Medicare does not cover health care costs outside the United States and its territories, except under limited circumstances in Canada and Mexico. The simple fact is that many international travelers do not have appropriate insurance protection. Government sponsored health programs such as Medicare almost never cover care received in a foreign country. Employer-sponsored plans often limit overseas coverage to emergency care only (and the burden will be on you to prove it's an emergency). Emergency medical evacuation is almost never covered. Even if you're traveling on business, you may have significant gaps in your coverage. "

That's where we come in. We offer a variety of benefit plans featuring comprehensive benefits and travel assistance that support and fill those gaps. Travel peace of mind...we have it covered.

"Why is insurance so critical for international travel?"

"Obtaining healthcare in some parts of the world can be tricky. Some hospitals won't provide any treatment--or won't allow a patient to be discharged--until the hospital has received a guarantee of payment. Such guarantees are commonly provided by travel insurers, in conjunction with assistance providers, but rarely by other insurers or managed care plans. This means you'll have to pay in advance, perhaps as much as tens of thousands of dollars, with your credit card. Of course, for this to work the hospital must accept foreign credit cards and your card must have a sufficient credit limit.

Medical evacuations are tricky to arrange and there are some air ambulance providers who should be avoided. Worse, local authorities may have financial ties to certain evacuation companies. The solution? Most travel insurance includes a medical assistance benefit, which is critical. It gives you 24/7/365 access to a company that will arrange an evacuation for you with a creditable evacuation company--or, through their medical personnel, can help assure that you're getting appropriate treatment locally. Emergencies are rare but everyone should have a contingency plan. " ~Frank Gillingham, MD, Medical Director, HTH Worldwide.

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