Your health insurance policy will probably cover medical expenses when you are on an international vacation. However, you may still want to buy an overseas travel insurance contract because it may offer benefits that your regular medical insurance policy won’t.
Most medical insurance contracts will cover you for emergencies anywhere you might travel. Your cost share will probably be the same as it would be if you were in network even if you are not if you seek treatment during a health care emergency. The insurance company doesn’t expect you to drive to the nearest network hospital when you have just broken a leg or had a heart attack.
Medicare and some other domestic insurance policies will provide no coverage of any kind while outside the country. You should read your contract to make sure that coverage is provided in any country you might travel to.
Routine care is rarely covered well when you travel internationally. Your plan may not provide any coverage for routine care when we do not use network medical providers. This makes sense because you can usually control or schedule when you need routine care.
Most of us are able to schedule our vacations so that we won’t need any routine health care while we are away from home. This is fortunate because when we seek to use a non-network provider for routine care, most insurance plans won’t cover it or won’t cover it well.
Some health insurance policies will cover routine care when you use non-network providers with a higher cost share. It may not be covered at all. You will probably pay more for the care if it is covered.
If you have adequate health care insurance and are comfortable with the way it will pay if you have a health emergency while out-of-network, you may not need to buy a separate travel insurance policy to have your medical bills covered. There may be other reasons that you might want an international travel insurance plan however.
The travel insurer may have more experience dealing with claims from outside the US. They are likely to be more able to handle correspondence in other languages, for example.
International travel insurance plans will often have emergency evacuation coverage. This means that if you cannot get the care you need where you are, your policy may pay to fly you home so that you can get that care.
Travel insurance contracts are usually very inexpensive. This makes the idea of dripping your stateside insurance while you are overseas is a tempting idea.
However these plans should only be used as a temporary insurance that supplements your regular coverage. Trying to save money by dropping your stateside health care insurance while you travel outside the country could backfire on you.
When you come back home, your travel insurance plan will no longer cover you or will only cover you for a brief period after you get home. This means that In order to have health insurance after you get home, you will need to apply again. There is no guarantee that your old insurer or any other company will accept you as an insured.
It is better to have a mediocre stateside health insurance policy than it is to have a great international health insurance contract and potentially have no coverage when you get back home. Consequently, it is usually wise to keep your regular medical insurance while you travel outside the country whether you buy an international travel plan or not. If you cancel your contract when you travel internationally, the insurance carrier may not have to to provide insurance for you when you end your trip.