Medical Insurance for International Travel

January 1, 2010

International travel demands special consideration to protect against the cost of medical expense while traveling.  Most U.S. health insurance policies do not cover members traveling abroad.  Conversely, most foreign policies do not cover their members inside the U.S.  Even those policies that do cover a member outside their own country do not cover the cost nor take responsibility for language translations (for billing and medical record purposes) nor do they handle the issue of monetary conversions and payments to be made outside their own country.  It almost always makes sense to take a separate policy that specializes in these issues of international law.  Fortunately, this coverage is usually inexpensive and easy to find.

Note that this article is intended only for U.S. residents traveling outside the U.S. or non-U.S. residents traveling in the U.S.  This article is not intended for non-U.S. residents traveling outside the U.S.

Most of this coverage is issued online.  Special programs are designed to ask an applicant relevant questions and then steer them to the best type of policy for their specific situation.  Immigrants coming to the U.S. will likely find attractive options at http://www.medsave.com/inbound-immigrant-insurance-features-and-benefits.htm.  Other popular policies are listed on the home page at www.MedSave.com by clicking on the box that says "International Medical Insurance".  Since the major insurers in this market are similar in price and service, electing the insurance company is not as important as selecting the proper type of policy.

Below are a few special situations and considerations:

U.S. ex-patriots (U.S. citizens with their permanent residence outside the U.S. cannot purchase short term medical insurance in the U.S.  A U.S. address is needed.

U.S. residents who are not U.S. citizens should not use the American Health Shield policy.  This policy is available to citizens only.  Any other policy listed at MedSave.com can be substituted.

A pregnant woman (or the future father) generally cannot purchase health insurance in the U.S. until the pregnancy is completed.  One exception is www.BasicHealthInsurance.net  that offers limited benefits for pre-existing medical conditions after six months.

Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions is either limited or excluded by most health insurance policies, depending on the specific policy.  International medical insurance policies tend to be more generous than U.S. health insurance plans in covering pre-existing medical conditions.

Short term health insurance from www.FreedomBenefits.net covers the U.S., Mexico and Canada.  The policy and ID cards can be printed out immediately at the time of enrollment, so this is an especially attractive option for U.S. residents planning a vacation in North America.

Long term health insurance from www.FreedomBenefits.net provides worldwide coverage but the policy issue time is about 3 weeks.


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