Will my health insurance cover me when I travel out of the country?

When you travel out of the United States, will your health insurance cover you if you get sick, or do you need to get extra insurance?

Travel health insurance covers patients for a limited time only, and is usually purchased for foreign trips only.

Before you travel out of the country, check your existing health insurance.  Many companies will pay for medical costs in a foreign country, so you do not have to get additional coverage.

But be sure to read what is NOT covered.  Most insurers will not pay to have you evacuated out of a foreign country if you become ill, and those evacuations can cost over $50,000.

If you buy travel health insurance, be sure to read their “pre-existing conditions” rules carefully.  For example, if a patient has had kidney stones in the past, then travels overseas and gets a kidney stone, the insurance may not pay.

What about Medicare, the insurance for those 65 and older?  Medicare does not pay for medical care or hospital stays outside of the United States except in very limited circumstances.  So patients on Medicare will need to get travel health insurance.  Some Medicare Advantage plans (run by private insurers) do provide coverage.

If you travel out of the country, be sure to take any medications that you need (in their original labeled pharmacy bottles).  Be sure to have your doctor’s contact information available if you have chronic medical conditions.

If you get sick overseas, calling the United States Embassy in the country you are in can be helpful, as they can advise on which doctors and hospitals are accredited.  The US State Department website lists insurers that offer travel medical insurance and medical evacuation insurance.


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