iTHINK Financial logo

Planning For Medical Coverage When Abroad

Before you leave the country, contact your insurer for more information about overseas coverage and consider purchasing travel insurance to mitigate the risks of runaway medical expenses.

Life saving ring made of dollars with red bands.

Will your medical insurance cover your expenses while you're abroad?

If you can't answer that question with confidence, don't worry - you're in good company. Many of us are unsure how foreign travel affects our coverage. And, in fact, there is no universal answer to this question, as terms differ between policies.

Additionally, those who don't have an existing policy may wish to review their options for temporary insurance, as access to medical treatment may be limited for those who don't have some sort of coverage.

To help make sure you're prepared for all medical contingencies, let's take a closer look at the steps you should take to secure overseas medical coverage.

Contact Your Insurance Company 

Anyone preparing for extended overseas travel should first reach out to their insurance company to review policy coverage details. You should inquire as to whether you'll be covered in the event of injury or illness, if you'll have to pay out of pocket and then be reimbursed and how much your coverage limits will differ with out of country coverage.

Policies differ widely in terms of overseas coverage, so performing your due diligence is critically important.

Consider Travel Insurance

Travel insurance generally has a medical component, which makes it a great supplementary option for those who have coverage limitations with their standard health insurance. It's also a smart choice for those who don't have health insurance, as it's an affordable way to help make sure you have access to medical care while traveling. These plans also often cover the costs of emergency evacuation, which is often not covered with conventional health insurance policies.

Travelers from the U.S. should also be aware that government insurance programs (Medicare and Medicaid, for example) will typically not pay for overseas medical expenses.

Check Your Host Country's Medical System

Travelers from the U.S. will also discover that their country is something of a global outlier in terms of health care coverage. While the U.S. uses a complex patchwork of private and public insurance providers, many other nations take a more centralized, government-run and subsidized approach to healthcare.

Yet while medical treatment may be free or deeply discounted at the point of care in nations such as the U.K., visitors are sometimes charged for treatments. 

The Takeaway

Medical expenses can skyrocket in a hurry, so it's critically important to make sure that you're covered in the event of serious illness or injury. Before you leave, contact your insurer for more information about overseas coverage and consider purchasing travel insurance to mitigate the risks of runaway medical expenses.