I recently read an article about a little-known issue that can have serious consequences for those traveling outside the United States - travel medical insurance. This is not to be confused with trip cancellation insurance, although the two can often be combined.
To quote from the article: “While younger clients might dismiss the added expense as unnecessary, older clients should seriously consider such protection. Why? Travel insurance protects against more than lost luggage and weather-related travel delays. It includes coverage for medical care in a foreign country and, if necessary, medical evacuation.
Even the most generous Medigap policy, Plan F, provides limited coverage abroad. The AARP Plan F policy sold by United HealthCare Insurance Co. covers 80% of medically necessary emergency care services during the first 60 days of an international trip, with a maximum lifetime benefit of $50,000 after an annual deductible of $250.
In comparison, a married couple who are both 65 or older could buy a travel insurance policy for a two-week, $10,000 trip to Europe for less than $800, according to TravelInsurance.com, a site that allows consumers to compare costs and features of a variety of travel insurance policies.”
“For example, a policy from Travel Insured International includes $1 million of medical evacuation coverage per person and $100,000 of medical coverage per person with no deductible. It also includes trip cancellation coverage for 100% of the insured cost of the trip, trip interruption protection for up to 150% of the trip cost and $1,000 per person lost luggage protection.
That same couple could buy a medical-only travel insurance policy with $1 million of medical evacuation coverage per person and $1 million of medical coverage per person for less than $400. Or, for as little as $145, the couple could buy $100,000 of medical evacuation coverage per person and $50,000 of medical coverage per person. That could be a good, low-cost option for someone who's enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers no medical coverage abroad or who has original Medicare and a Medigap supplemental policy that does not offer any medical coverage outside of the U.S.”
"A travel insurance policy could be a lifesaver for some people, between the medical coverage and the medical evacuation protection," said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com. In addition to the coverage for health care costs abroad, travel insurance provides 24/7 telephone assistance anywhere in the world.
"If you're on vacation and have a medical emergency, you don't have to navigate a foreign healthcare system," Mr. Sandberg said. "You're just a phone call away from help."
Travel insurance is a time-sensitive purchase. It's best to purchase as soon as you book a trip, particularly if you buy nonrefundable tickets. It protects you if plans change, if weather disrupts your trip, or if a traveler or a family member becomes ill. Travelers with health issues can usually purchase a pre-existing waiver for an additional fee. Prices are based on trip length, duration, destination and travelers' ages. AAA offers a plan to members for either singles or couples for under $200 per year.
Medicare will cover medical emergencies abroad, but you are limited to $50,000 lifetime benefit, you must pay the bill first, and then bring back the EOB in English to get reimbursed. Obviously this can get very tricky and very expensive quickly! So to summarize, if you can afford a 2 week river cruise in Europe, you can afford the extra medical coverage.
If you have questions about this important topic, please do not hesitate to call. I have links to share that will be helpful. Happy travels!
Until next time, Cheers!