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6 Frequently Asked Questions from US Travelers

6 Frequently Asked Questions from US Travelers Featured Image

Q: Why should I be concerned about medical coverage abroad?

  • The Social Security Medicare Program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States.
  • Many health insurance plans do not provide coverage overseas. Those that provide “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad may not pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States which can cost $10,000.00 and up depending on your location and medical condition.
  • Many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service.
  • Uninsured patients may be refused service.
  • Countries with socialized medicine may not provide full services to non-residents.
  • Payment of hospital and other expenses abroad is the responsibility of the traveler.
  • Some countries require tourists to carry accident or travel insurance. Check the Country Specific Information for the countries you plan to visit for detailed information.

Q: What questions should I ask my health insurance company?

  • Does this insurance policy cover emergency expenses abroad such as returning me to the United States for treatment if I become seriously ill?
  • Does this insurance cover high-risk activities such as parasailing, mountain climbing, scuba diving and off-roading?
  • Does this policy cover pre-existing conditions?
  • Does the insurance company require pre-authorizations or second opinions before emergency treatment can begin?
  • Does the insurance company guarantee medical payments abroad?
  • Will the insurance company pay foreign hospitals and foreign doctors directly?
  • Does the insurance company have a 24-hour physician-backed support center?
  • Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.

Q: Can the U.S. government assist me if I become disabled overseas?

  • If an American becomes ill or is seriously injured abroad, a U.S. consular officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family or friends.
  • If necessary a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States.
  • Payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility of the traveler.

Q: Where can I find a list of physicians abroad?

  • For detailed information on physicians abroad, the authoritative reference is The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, published for the American Board of Medical Specialists and its certifying member boards.
  • U.S. embassies and consulates abroad maintain lists of hospitals and physicians, many of which are posted on the embassy or consulate web site.

Q: What’s the difference between Travel Insurance and Travel Medical Insurance?

  • Travel Insurance insures your financial investment in your trip. Typically it covers such things as the cost of lost baggage and cancelled flights, but it may or may not cover costs of medical attention you may need while abroad.
  • Travel Medical Insurance covers costs of medical attention you may need while abroad.

Q: What insurance information should I carry with me abroad?

  • Carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of your insurance and a claim form.

Questions and Answers from US State Department