It’s 2 in the morning, and you can’t breathe! You are rushed to the hospital, and they need to send you to another city to get medical treatment. What do you do? In an emergency situation like this, it’s important that you pre-plan and have an insurance plan that will cover you in case the care you need is not available locally. This benefit is typically referred to as emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Every international student and scholar – along with their dependents – should have a plan that covers this. In today’s blog, we will talk about what these benefits are, why you need it, and how you can find an insurance plan with these benefits.
What is Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains?
Both medical evacuation and repatriation are designed to cover the transportation costs of a major emergency or death, and are typically coordinated by the insurance company.
Emergency medical evacuation transports you to the nearest facility equipped to handle treatment. This could mean another city, country, or even your home country. The facility where you would be transported is generally based on your overseeing doctor, and they work in collaboration with the insurance company to make sure you receive the care you need.
Repatriation of remains, also referred to on some insurance plans as Return of Mortal Remains, will transport the body back to the home country in case of death. Like medical evacuation, the insurance company typically coordinates the transportation behind the scenes.
These benefits are typically included in international plans and are not generally included on local domestic plans, but you never know! The only way to be sure is to check your policy certificate to see whether these benefits are included.
Why Do I Need This?
If you will be studying outside your home country, it’s very important to have these two benefits in place just in case you need care elsewhere. Here are just a few reasons why:
- It’s expensive. The average cost of a medical evacuation will depend on the type of treatment needed, accommodations to keep the person stable, and where they are being transported to and from. According to Travelex, the average medical evacuation can cost upwards of $25,000 and repatriation of remains can cost upwards of $11,000.
- Help with coordination. If someone is gravely sick or injured, they are not going to be able to coordinate their own transportation! Having an insurance plan that covers this means that they will also help coordinate the transportation. The insurance company not only works with all parties involved, but they usually have a case manager with expertise on handling the logistics to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
- Loved ones. There is nothing more difficult than having a family or friend who has a major medical issue, and there is no one there to help. Having an insurance plan with these benefits means that their loved ones can rest assured that the sick is being taken care of, and the insurance company will provide them updates on the status as the evacuation progresses.
Your Insurance Plan
Your Insurance Requirements
Because of the importance of medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, there are many requirements mandating this type of coverage. J1 visa holders and their dependents are required to have at least $25,000 for repatriation of remains and $50,000 for medical evacuation according to the Department of State. While F and M visa holders are not mandated to have insurance by the Department of State, the school will typically require students to have a certain level of coverage, often times requiring students to have coverage for both.
How To Comply
As an international student or scholar, you are more than likely required to have emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage during the entire time you are in the US. If you have a dependent with you, they are likely required to have it as well. There are two ways to get coverage with these benefits:
1. Your health insurance includes medical evacuation/repatriation – If you have an international health insurance plan, you are more than likely going to have a plan which includes this coverage. Be sure to call your insurance company or check your policy certificate to verify that you 1) have insurance for these two benefits (they are usually listed separately) and 2) have sufficient coverage to meet the requirements listed by the Department of State or your school. If you have dependents with you, make sure they are covered as well! Some group plans do not cover dependents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. If you or your dependents don’t have an insurance plan in place, you can purchase an individual plan that will include these benefits. >>Learn about the Student Secure plan (for students) and the Travel Medical (for dependents).
2. Your health insurance does not have medical evacuation/repatriation – If you have a domestic plan, chances are that your plan does not include coverage for medical evacuation or repatriation, since it was not designed with international students in mind. If you or your dependents have an Affordable Care Act compliant plan, for example, then it’s unlikely that it will cover these two benefits. If that’s the case, there are standalone plans that can be purchased with those two benefits – and the coverage will also meet the J visa requirements! >> Learn more about the Medical Evac plan to buy a standalone plan.