Minneapolis, MN – You remembered your toothbrush and other summer travel essentials, but what about travel health insurance? Policy analysts for medicareresources.org and healthinsurance.org are reminding consumers to know the limits of their health coverage in case of an illness or accident while traveling.
“Of all of the things you want to take with you and make sure you bring back, good health and financial security top the list,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, an analyst for medicareresources.org. “Taking the time to make sure you’re covered can help you avoid large medical bills if you experience a health issue while you’re away.”
Health plans vary in terms of how they cover medical care and prescription medications when you travel out of state or to another country. Here’s what consumers need to know.
Know the specifics of your plan
Whether people have a Marketplace plan, employer coverage or Medicare, it’s a good idea not to assume you are covered while traveling. Consumers should:
- Contact their health plan and ask specific questions about their coverage while traveling.
- Request the specifics of their coverage in writing. Ask the plan to send or refer them to specific documents so they have those details.
- Consider purchasing travel health insurance to make sure they’re covered.
“Trips take lots of planning and preparation; unfortunately, many travelers overlook travel health insurance,” said Louise Norris, health policy analyst for healthinsurance.org. “Getting sick or injured on vacation is always unfortunate. What’s worse is when that results in colossal health bills because someone didn’t understand the limits of their health insurance coverage.”
What you need to know if you have Medicare
Medicare coverage while traveling depends on the plan.
- Original Medicare. Original Medicare generally doesn’t cover treatment outside the United States and its territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands). However, Original Medicare will provide coverage anywhere in the United States. And if you add a Medigap plan, it may provide some coverage for emergency care abroad.
- Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans cover emergency care anywhere in the United States or its territories. But plans typically require enrollees to use a local provider network for routine care. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover medical emergencies that arise during foreign travel, but you’ll want to check with your plan to see how this would work.
- Medigap. Some Medigap policies cover medical emergencies abroad. However, Medigap does not include medevac – medical evacuation – return to the United States. Beneficiaries with Original Medicare plus Medigap coverage might want to consider purchasing medevac coverage prior to a trip abroad.
Consider travel health insurance
A separate travel health insurance policy can help ensure you’re covered in the event of an accident or illness while you’re traveling.
Consider the following:
- Whether the policy offers coverage in your travel destination.
- If the benefits include medical care, extended hospital stays and prescription medications.
- If the plan will cover you for your entire trip, and beyond, if you end up in the hospital.
- Whether the policy includes medevac coverage, or if a separate policy is needed in the event you need to be transported for care.
“Travel health insurance is specifically designed to ensure you’re covered in the event of an accident or illness when you are not in your covered area,” said Chumbley Hogue. “Just like with any insurance policy, though, it’s important to understand what you’re getting. Travel health plans vary from plan to plan just like traditional health insurance plans.”
Healthinsurance.org provides free, online resources for consumers, including information about individual health insurance, major medical insurance and affordable medical insurance.
Amy Fletcher Faircloth, [email protected]