So you’re planning a dive vacation? You’ve packed the swimming trunks, the extra layers, your dive gear, the sun screen, but the question remains: is your medical insurance traveling with you? Do you need additional travel insurance? What happens if you get to the Bahamas like you always wanted to, and then, in a freak accident, you break your ankle? What if the conch from that charming restaurant reacts badly with your digestive system. Now you are suddenly having the worst food poisoning you’ve experienced in your life? It is no small matter; according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one half of US travelers heading to another country will experience some sort of health problem while abroad.
The truth is, unless you make special preparations, the outlook is not good. According to www.worldwidemedical.com, “most US insurance companies, HMOs, PPOs or Medicare plans do not provide adequate medical insurance.” There may be exceptions, and you should look into the fine print of your plan, but every major US health insurance providers suggests getting some form of traveler’s insurance. Unfortunately, there is no foreign country that provides free health care for travelers.
Travel insurance plans provide three types of coverage. First, for medical care when abroad. Next, the cost of emergency medical evacuation. Finally, reimbursement for sudden trip cancellations and lost luggage.
Should you require medical attention while abroad, most insurance companies provide support in the form of emergency hotlines. They will advise you on the best hospitals in the area, as well as the ins and outs of the local systems. It is strongly advised that, if possible, you consult your provider before seeking medical attention in a foreign land. Also, insurance providers warn that most third world countries’ hospital systems require payment upfront for services rendered. This fee would be reimbursed by the plan.
The most pressing concern is the case of an emergency medical evacuation from a foreign country. Evacuations are necessary when a very serious medical condition arises. Traveler/patient may need to be transported back to the care of his/her primary care physician. This can cost upwards of $10,000 as it is a coordinated effort between several hospitals and at least one airline. Most travel insurance plans provide the option for specific coverage for this contingency.
Another aspect to consider when traveling abroad, is the cost of sudden cancellations, or changes in travel plans as a result of medical or other emergencies. In an era when airline companies are logging record numbers of lost luggage, this aspect of travelers insurance provides reimbursement for the purchase of clothes and other necessities.