Health Insurance for the Traveler

By Lindsey Johnson

Your bags are packed, itinerary set, passport in hand – you are ready! But have you stopped to consider what you might do if the unexpected happens?

While nobody anticipates their vacation going awry, sometimes things arise unexpectedly and it’s best to be prepared. A broken bone, an illness, an accident – these things can happen anytime and anywhere.

Before You Go

Call your health insurance agent or company before you leave for your trip and acquire a list of available in-network providers at your destination. Ask for the names of the preferred Emergency Room, hospital, ambulance service and Urgent Care Center. For minor illness or problems, you can most likely be seen at an Urgent Care Center, which will minimize wait times and costs. If an ambulance is needed, depending on the nature of the call, you may be able to give them your hospital preference. If a member of your party is pregnant, ask your health insurance provider for more specifics on a maternity hospital. If children are traveling in your party, inquire about pediatric services and hospitals as well. Find out if an authorization is needed before being admitted to the hospital.

For many health plans, when you seek out-of-network services, the costs can be tremendous. Some remote or international locations may not have in-network providers available. Ask your health insurance provider how to file an out-of-network claim or exception if you must seek care but an in-network provider is unavailable.

When speaking with your health insurance provider, be sure to ask about how claims at these facilities would be paid and what portion you are responsible for. Do you have a copay, coinsurance or deductible for these providers? Being prepared with how you will be charged can help alleviate any (additional) surprises.

When You Arrive

When you reach your destination, scope out the locations of these providers and make a plan for transportation if needed. Keep your insurance card and list of providers with you on day excursions and activities.

When You Return Home

If you utilized services while you were away, call your health insurance company to file a claim, if needed. Also carefully review your monthly Explanation of Benefits document to review the breakdown of your visit charges and call with any questions.

While nobody anticipates spending time at a medical facility during vacation, sometimes it is inevitable. Knowing where to go and how much it will cost will save you from additional headaches should the need arise for medical care. If your destination does not have any in-network providers, make sure you find out how to file a claim for reimbursement of services. Be prepared for an unexpected illness and do not forego care in emergency situations.

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