A short-term health insurance plan and an accident plan can be a worthwhile addition to your spring break trip, even if you already have health insurance. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re away from home, and you might be at a greater risk for the unexpected. Some health insurance plans won’t cover illness and injury abroad, so it’s definitely worth looking into supplemental insurance as part of your vacation planning. The CDC strongly recommends buying travel health insurance if you’re planning to leave the country.
Benefits of Supplemental Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance that you purchase for a trip is different from trip insurance, which is a policy that covers things like a cancellation because of extreme weather or unexpected illness. Travel health insurance is medical coverage in case you fall ill while on your trip. Health insurance policies usually don’t cover illness when you’re abroad, but accident or illness can still occur. Some of the benefits of a supplemental policy include:
- Medical treatment
- Emergency dental treatment
- Ambulance or airlift
First, call your current health insurance provider to check on any benefits they may provide outside the country. Find out their policies on covering chronic conditions while you’re abroad in addition to coverage for illness or accident while traveling. If there’s coverage, check to see if you’ll have to pay out of pocket and wait to be reimbursed, since you’ll have to make provisions for this before you leave.
In some cases, existing policies will pay for emergency treatment, but it’s up to the insurer to define what this means. For example, will they cover food poisoning? Is preauthorization or a second opinion needed for treatment? Also, some insurers have exclusions for high-risk activities like skydiving or mountain climbing. It’s important to ask relevant questions and get a complete picture of the coverage available. You may decide that an inexpensive travel health insurance policy is still needed.
Emergency Dental Treatment
Even if your travel health insurance plan has good coverage when it comes to medical care, it may not be as helpful when it comes to emergency dental care. Check the dollar amount limits on the policies you look at before choosing one. Short-term health insurance plans for travel usually only cover dental care related to accident or injury. If you want a plan that covers other issues that could cause pain and ruin a trip, like having an abscess or chipping a tooth while eating, you’ll have to check around. Most dental coverage is limited to a few hundred dollars per trip, and issues with dentures, bridges and crowns are excluded from coverage.
Short-term travel health plans should cover ambulance services, including airlift if needed. Additionally, you should purchase a plan that includes emergency evacuation. There are two types of emergency evacuation transportation. The first involves getting you from the location of the accident or illness to an appropriate medical facility. The second is getting you home if special steps are required for your transportation, such as an early return. In case of serious injury, it can cost up to $100,000 to be repatriated to the United States. Carefully read the fine print to make sure that the policy you purchase provides adequate coverage.
Besides evacuation repatriation, your policy should include transportation if you die while out of the country. You might not want to think about death while on vacation, but you should put a plan in place just in case. How would your family get you home? The expense for this can be prohibitive, and your loved ones would be at the mercy of others to help facilitate it. The other option would be to spend money on an expensive plane ticket for a family member to fly to the location and oversee the process.
Some policies also include accidental death and dismemberment and/or term life insurance benefits for your trip. While unpleasant to consider, getting coverage for these situations can be extremely useful if you face them. Having coverage in place if you lose a limb while you’re hiking through Europe, for instance, would help you cover medical bills and other costs while you’re recuperating.
For a few dollars a day, it’s vital to get short-term health care coverage if you’re planning to travel out of the country. Policies may be similar in price, but the important thing to look at is what they cover. First, make sure that they include the four areas outlined above. Next, look at the dollar amount limits and the fine details of what’s covered. A good policy will include assistance in locating health care facilities to treat you in case of illness or injury. Many policies provide similar protection, and as long as you do your homework by reading all the details, you should be able to find an affordable short-term policy with ample coverage.
Once You Purchase Insurance
When you leave for the trip, carry health insurance information with you, including your identification card with the policy number. Keep it on your person, along with your other ID and primary insurance information, so it’s within easy reach in case of illness or accident. If you visit a hospital during your trip, keep copies of all bills that you receive for treatment as you may need them for reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. With your new policy, you’ll have the peace of mind to relax and enjoy your trip, securely prepared for any health problems that arise.