Finding a health insurance plan that meets your needs and wallet isn’t easy. With so many options and difficult jargon, how is anyone suppose to figure out which plan is right for them? If you will be studying outside your home country, it’s important that you find an insurance plan that is suited to your international needs. There are some must-have benefits for all travelers, and other benefits that may be unique to your health needs. To help you through this process, we’ve put together 5 tips on how to compare insurance plans to narrow down your options and figure out which plan is best for you.
- Consider your needs. If you are going to be studying outside your home country, you will need a plan that covers you in your destination country, and includes emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. While many international plans cover accidents and illnesses that occur on your policy, it’s important to think about what activities you’ll be involved in, what plans you have for the future, and any current conditions that you may need to manage while overseas. Read through this list and make sure to verify if this is covered under your policy (that is, if you need it!):
- Organized sports
- Mental health
- Extreme sports
- Pre-existing conditions
- Consider your school and visa requirements. Once you’ve figured out what your plan must include, it’s important to consider any requirements you’ll need to meet. Some visas require a minimum level of health insurance and your school may have minimum requirements as well. If you’ll be studying at a college or university be sure to check with them to see what your plan must include. If you’ll be studying in the US, use our School Requirements to help you figure out which plan meets your health insurance requirements.
- Consider the financial solvency of your plan. If you’ll be purchasing a plan, then you’ll want to make sure they have the ability to cover any claims you have. After all, isn’t that the point of getting a health insurance plan? To figure this out, there are independent rating agencies that help evaluate the insurance carrier’s ability to pay claims. AM Best and Standard and Poor’s are two reputable agencies that evaluate the insurance’s carriers financial strength. We recommend purchasing a B or better.
- Consider where you can go and how claims are filed. Depending on the insurance plan, you may be restricted to a particular network of doctors and hospitals. This can be very important as you may find that there are no network providers in your area. Before purchasing a plan, it’s important to review the network where you’ll be living or traveling to. You will also want to verify how claims are paid, and ask these important questions:
- How do I file a claim?
- When do I need to file a claim?
- How long does it take to process a claim?
- Do I pay first and get reimbursed or do you offer direct payment?
These questions are important so that you know the process, what to expect, and how long it can take before you get reimbursed. Be sure to ask these questions prior to purchasing the plan and make sure the process will work for you.
- Consider the level of service. When you are traveling around the world, excellent customer service is a must. Find out what your insurance plan is offering and what type of help is included in the plan. Questions you should ask include:
- Do you have 24 hour travel assistance?
- Can you help me find a provider nearby?
- Do you have toll-free numbers that I can call?
- Are there translation services in case I need help in my native language?
Want to learn more about comparing health insurance plan options? Read our article on Evaluating Student Insurance Plans so that you are prepared for anything that comes your way while overseas.