Traveling is the dream for many Americans. After paying off debt, traveling the world is the most popular answer to “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

But traveling presents its own set of health insurance concerns. If you buy your health insurance in the United States, are you covered while you’re abroad? Is there an extra cost? Do you need to have health insurance the countries you travel to? There are many new questions that need to be answered.

Here’s a few considerations to think about when you decide to travel the globe. Specific questions you may have can be answered by a health insurance agent who will be able to help you find the best plan for your traveling needs.

What’s the Difference Between International Health Insurance and Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is only meant to cover you for small trips. You’re not moving to another country indefinitely, but going on a vacation to an exotic location. This type of insurance covers you for issues like:

  • Loss of Luggage
  • Loss of Personal Belongings
  • Emergency Medical Treatment

The objective of travel insurance is to cover an emergency medical situation and get you  well enough to be transported home. Travel insurance is not intended for long-term care and once you are back in your home country, the coverage of your travel insurance is void.

Services that are typically not included in your travel insurance include elective surgery, drug or alcohol related injury, and pre-existing medical conditions.

International health insurance differs from travel insurance because it’s created for individuals who plan on living abroad for an extended period of time. It not only covers emergencies like travel insurance, but it also covers routine healthcare.

International health insurance will cover services like:

  • Hospital Stays
  • Routine Checkups
  • Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Choice of Medical Providers

Some international healthcare plans include additional options like out-patient treatment, maternity care, dental care, and repatriation (sending you back home).

3 Factors To Consider

Age & Current Health Status

If you’re older or have pre-existing health conditions, travel insurance might be more difficult or costly to obtain. If you’re younger, you might not require the same type of coverage. While some young adults opt for no health insurance because they’re low risk, it’s not a risk worth taking. It’s not advisable to leave yourself vulnerable in a foreign country. In some countries, if you don’t pay your medical bills, they won’t release you from the hospital.  

Length of Stay

As aforementioned, the type of insurance you acquire will depend on the length of your stay. If you’re just traveling to a foreign country for a few weeks, you’ll just require travelers insurance. However, if you’re staying for an extended period of time, like a year, then you’ll need to investigate your international health insurance options.

Region You’ll Be Traveling To

The region  you’ll be traveling to is important to note for several reasons. One, some areas put you in higher risk than others. While places like Vietnam and Thailand are perfectly safe to travel to, you’ll higher risk of disease like malaria than in countries like Switzerland or Australia.

In addition to risk of disease, some countries have better healthcare facilities. Some countries like Thailand might be able to treat your ailments with modern medical facilities while others might require you to be repatriated.

International travel is fun and exciting, but it’s important to cover yourself. You don’t want to be stuck 6,000 miles away from home with no options for your pain or health ailment. If you’re uncertain what your options are, speak with a health insurance agent who can go over what options are available to you.

Image Courtesy of Steven Lewis

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