Taking Care When You Are Out Of The Country

March 30, 2010

You're on the sunny shores of Aruba enjoying your dream vacation. Suddenly, you have excruciating pain in your abdomen. You're rushed to the local hospital where they run tests and diagnose you with appendicitis. You are taken to surgery to have your appendix removed. "Will your health insurance cover your hospital stay, will it cover your surgeon, and will it cover the medications? What if you have a more serious condition, will it cover emergency transportation back to the States," asks Frank N. Darras, America's top insurance lawyer.

When planning that perfect vacation do not forget to contact your medical insurance company and ask them some very pointed questions about your coverage overseas or on the high seas. See www.DarrasLaw.com.

Specifically, you should ask:

  • Does this insurance policy cover emergency expenses abroad such as returning me to the United States for treatment if I am seriously ill?
  • Does this insurance cover high-risk activities such as parasailing, mountain climbing, scuba diving and off-roading?
  • Does this policy cover pre-existing conditions?
  • Does the insurance company require pre-authorizations or second opinions before treatment can begin?
  • Does the insurance company guarantee medical payments made abroad?
  • Will the insurance company pay foreign hospitals and foreign doctors directly? Or will I have to pay the provider out of pocket and submit the claim to the company?
  • Does the insurance company have a 24-hour physician-backed support center?
  • Will the carrier cover you if you're traveling on a foreign-flagged vessel? This is very important to find out from your carrier, since most cruise ships, even those cruising U.S. waters, are not flagged in the U.S.

Once you have found out what your medical policy will cover when you are out of the country, you can determine if you need to purchase Travel Medical Insurance. Medicare recipients should be aware that Medicare does NOT cover medical services outside of the US.

"Travel Medical policies focus only on medical coverage and do not cover any other travel expenses. The premium you pay for the insurance takes into account the length of the trip, the age of the traveler, and the amount of coverage. Be sure to ask the Traveler Medical Insurance carrier about the limitations and exclusions of the policy including pre-existing conditions, medical evacuation and where they will evacuate you to (your choice or theirs)", says Darras.

No one wants their idyllic vacation spoiled by illness or injury but sometimes the inevitable happens. Being prepared prior to your trip can make all the difference in your financial health when you return home.