Top 5 FAQ about International Health Insurance Plans

“Do I need international health insurance?” This is a common question people ask themselves when traveling abroad. Although insured domestically, most people often neglect to obtain international health insurance when traveling abroad. Since many domestic policies do not cover medical treatment received outside of the home country, purchasing an international health insurance plan extends your protection and offers borderless coverage. The risk of being uninsured is paying expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. Even a short visit to a doctor can be costly without an insurance plan.

1. What is included in an international health insurance plan?

Most international health insurance plans cover hospitalization, physician, surgeon, specialist fees, and prescriptions drugs. They usually include a wellness benefit that can be used for an annual physical or other routine exams.  

Health insurance plans provide medical coverage and supplemental insurance can be added for dental, vision, life, and war and terrorism related injuries.

how to get international health insuranceMedical evacuation and repatriation coverage, are usually both covered under international health insurance. If you are traveling to a remote area, where proper medical facilities are unavailable, emergency medical evacuation coverage would transport you to another facility that can better treat your needs. If the other facility is not local, then emergency medical evacuation coverage will pay for you to be airlifted to a better facility. Since emergency medical evacuation can be quite expensive, make sure you are covered for at least $50,000 under your international health insurance plan.

Repatriation of bodily remains covers air or ground transportation expenses arising from the death of the insured member. It returns mortal remains back to the home country. You should also double-check to make sure repatriation is covered under your international health insurance plan.

2. How much will international health insurance cost?

Like a domestic health insurance plan, the cost of international health insurance varies depending on the level of treatment, age, health, country of coverage, pre-existing conditions, medical history, deductible, co-insurance, and lifestyle. For example, healthy individuals, such as those who do not smoke will pay less for insurance than those who do. Since there are so many variables, there is a wide range in premium.   

3. Which hospitals will I have access to?

how to get international health insurance

With a private international health insurance plan, hospital access will vary from country to country. Most policies give you access to a range of providers worldwide and guarantee of payment, which means that the provider sends payment in advance of approved treatments.

Check to see if you can find a company with 24/7 healthcare support in English. Expats should also ensure they will have access to English speaking doctors, hospitals, and claims support.

It is important to research the individual destination location and compare that to what the individual insurance plan states. International insurance providers will be able to answer specific questions about coverage before a policy is obtained.

4. What are common restrictions of obtaining a policy?

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Typically, policies have exclusions and limit coverage for pre-existing conditions. Exclusions generally include acts of war and terrorism (even in countries where war has not been declared), and nuclear explosions. Recreational activities are often not covered by insurance.

Although pre-existing conditions may not prevent you from obtaining insurance, they will affect which plans you are eligible for. If any of the following applies to you, you may need to check for pre-existing condition clauses or exclusions, or seek special international health insurance that covers pre-existing conditions:

  • Pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Asthma

Note that if you have any other long-term health conditions or chronic health conditions, those may qualify as pre-existing conditions. Immunizations, vaccinations, and inoculations may not be covered

 international health insurance for seniorsSometimes, there are age limitations on obtaining an international health insurance policy as they may not offer coverage for people over a certain age. So, you may need to do considerable research to fit the criteria for the policy that you need.

When filling out the insurance application, be sure to include all pre-existing conditions. Any claim related to an undeclared pre-existing condition can be rejected, even abroad. This can lead to expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. It is always better to declare pre-existing conditions when obtaining a policy than to leave it off and hope for the best. Although most plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, pre-existing condition exclusions can be removed if you have been treatment free for 18-24 months.

Having pre-existing conditions does not make you ineligible for international health insurance. You simply need to be aware that your pre-existing condition may not be covered.

5. Do I need any supplemental health insurance if I’m going to a high-risk country?

If you are traveling to a high risk country like Afghanistan or Iraq, injuries resulting from war & terrorism may not be covered. In order to prevent a gap in coverage, you will need to purchase supplemental insurance such as personal accident, which covers accidental death & dismemberment as well as disability. Make sure emergency medical evacuation is covered under your health insurance plan. A kidnap and ransom policy should also be considered in high risk locations.  

Learn More about International Health Insurance

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