December 8, 2016

The Scoop on Travel Medical Insurance (& My Father’s Heart Attack)

medex postI’ve traveled abroad with my kids several times, including twice on my own with two of my young daughters. I never gave travel medical insurance much thought until my father had a heart attack less than two weeks ago.

My dad is in his early-70s. He eats well. He exercises regularly (my dad ran a 5K race with me and my 8 y.o. daughter last month). He does everything right. Then my father has a “massive” heart attack.

My father is on the road to recovery, but he and my step-mother were just in Asia less than six months ago on an organized tour of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. What if my dad had had a heart attack there? Would they have been able to find a qualified doctor or hospital? Would they have been able to communicate effectively with second-language English speakers?

It’s still scary to think about, so I found it quite timely when UnitedHealthcare Global reached out to me about talking to my readers about travel medical insurance. Here are five things you should know about travel insurance when you are traveling out of the country.

1. It can help you quickly find local medical care. When dealing with an entirely different healthcare system outside the U.S. it can be reassuring to know that you have easy access to an emergency response team that can help you quickly identify a doctor wherever you are with credentials that have been verified. 

2. It can help you manage medical costs. Many doctors and hospitals outside the U.S. require payment up front before starting medical treatment. But what if the cost is more than you have or more than the limit on your credit card? With travel insurance, you may have a deductible to help manage up-front costs.

3. It can help you get home in an emergency. Travel medical insurance can provide assistance in evaluating your medical needs, identifying the best way to get home, make travel arrangements for your family and help set up appropriate care for when you return home.

4. It can help with non-medical problems. The emergency response team can even help with non-medical problems, like lost or stolen passports and referrals if you need legal help, while abroad. It’s nice to have someone on your side when navigating an entirely different country.

5. It can help safeguard your trip. Beyond medical situations, travel insurance can also provide coverage for lost baggage, trip cancellation or trip interruption if you require help in these situations.

A basic travel medical policy costs just a few dollars a day for a seven-day vacation. This was actually much less than I expected. I’m traveling to Canada (Quebec) on my own with my kids in a few weeks. I’m already planning to add on a travel medical policy, just in case.

For more, check out MEDEX international travel insurance plans from UnitedHealthcare Global that provide from $50K-$500K in coverage of medical expenses. They offer a variety of plans, as well as options for lost luggage coverage, trip cancellation and more.

It was fortunate that my father had his heart attack while stateside rather than during his vacation in Asia, but it’s worth reviewing some of these case studies from MEDEX to get a feel for how travel medical insurance can help in real-life situations, such as a stroke or even when civil unrest requires quick evacuation of travelers.

Travel insurance plans can be purchased from MEDEX of United Healthcare Global. Unfortunately, these plans are not available to residents of Washington or New York.

Disclaimer: I was compensated by UnitedHealthcare Global for this article on travel medical insurance. However, all opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.


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