Mom Hacks

Heading abroad? Here's what you need to know about health insurance while traveling

by Ali

Does it seem like everyone you know is traveling these days? That’s because they probably are! The U.S. Travel Association estimates that Americans took 2.2 billion trips for business and leisure activities last year. Wow! That is staggering considering there are only 318 million people in the U.S. So what exactly happens when you get sick or injured while traveling? Will your health insurance cover your medical care? Or will you be stuck paying thousands of dollars out of pocket?

Domestic Travel

One of the most important things frequent travelers need to consider is the provider network for their health insurance plan. When shopping for health insurance plans, look for one with a large provider network either across the U.S. or in your specific areas of travel. You can minimize unexpected costs by trying to go to an urgent care or clinic in-network rather than an out of network ER.

It is important to note that there may not be in-network providers in every city that you visit. Check your plan provisions on what is covered if you happen to be in an area without any doctors or hospitals in-network; some plans cover a fraction of the costs while others will cover none. If you have to go out of network for care, plans that cover a portion of the care are most beneficial to travelers. Some plans even offer a Tel-a-doc service that is especially great for road warriors. If you come down with a sinus infection or other mild concern, you can call a doctor, relay your symptoms, and have a prescription sent to a nearby pharmacy without having to wait in an urgent care clinic. This is a great way to skip the in-network/out of network worries!

International Travel

When it comes to international travel, your regular health insurance plan most likely won’t work. Contact your provider to find out what exactly they will cover (if anything). Most travelers going international need to pick up some form of travel insurance to include medical coverage and evacuation.

If you leave the U.S. with only your traditional health insurance: you will be responsible for emergency medical evacuation expenses/arrangements ($100,000+) should that be needed. Medical expenses are your responsibility to pay and you can file a claim with your provider when you return home. You will need to meet your regular deductible before any reimbursement occurs. Yikes! That sounds pretty expensive so you better wrap yourself in a bubble to avoid getting sick or injured!

If you purchase travel insurance: the provider will pay for and arrange emergency medical evacuation. Out of pocket expenses will either be reimbursed or covered on the spot. Plans vary, but usually there is a $0 deductible. Plus, they will help you find a doctor or hospital to go to. Sigh of relief!

Most Americans tend to overlook travel insurance when planning a trip. It generally costs between 4 to 12% of your total trip cost, making it pretty affordable to add-on! When given the choice between a medical evacuation costing $100,000+ or $150 for trip insurance, I’d take the trip insurance, and the peace of mind that comes with it, any day.

Need help finding a health insurance or travel insurance plan to fit your lifestyle? Take Command Health and Yonder can help you do just that! Take Command Health will help you find plans with wide provider networks perfect for domestic travelers! Yonder insurance will help you when you are ready for international travel and sort out the perfect travel insurance plan for your needs.

Find my plan now

Picture of Ali

Hi, I'm Ali! I wrote this blog because I love helping people decode confusing insurance jargon and understand the fine print. I'm a licensed health insurance professional and specialize in simplifying health insurance for individuals and small businesses. My QSEHRA articles have been featured regularly on Accounting Today, Accounting Web, HRWeb, and other industry publications. I'm also a member of Take Command Health's client success team and a full-time mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!