While planning a trip abroad there are a wide variety of things to consider: what hotels align best with your budget, how many shoes you can fit in your carry on – and of course, selecting a health insurance plan to help cover any unexpected medical bills you incur while traveling. Wait, that wasn’t on your to-do list?
Don’t worry, we understand that choosing a health insurance policy for your travels is nowhere remotely as interesting as Googling pictures of your travel destination, but it could end up saving you a great deal of time, hassle, and perhaps most importantly, money.
Here are your options:
Option One: Buy a plan from your home country
Option Two: Buy a plan from the country that you’ll be visiting
Odds are, there are countless travel insurance policies offered in your home country and even more offered in the country you’re visiting, so weighing the pros and cons will help you make the best possible decision.
The Pros of Purchasing a Plan from your Home Country:
For most of us, this seems like the most comfortable and convenient option for a few different reasons. Firstly, the plan is from your home country, so the policy wording (which is a fancy way of saying the fine print), benefits and assist services will be more familiar to you. Secondly, the assist services will likely be in your native language, so you won’t have to worry about requesting an interpreter when you have questions about claims or seeking treatment, which can be a plus.
Even though a policy purchased from your home country will likely be more familiar to you, it will not be familiar to healthcare providers in the country where you will actually need to use the insurance. This means that it’s unlikely that hospitals or doctor’s offices will accept your coverage and you will need to pay out of pocket and seek reimbursement for any medical bills that you may incur.
This isn’t the end of the world, of course, but it can be a pain point, especially if you had intended on using your cash for more enjoyable activities (remember that long list of fun activities you have planned?). Given that your policy is foreign, it will likely be hard to find in-network providers, meaning hospitals, urgent care centers and doctor’s offices that will accept your plan without forcing you to pay out of pocket.
In case you are traveling to the US, it’s important to know how strong your network is, making sure that you can find a doctor, hospital, or clinic when you need it. This is especially important as the US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, and to confront those costs, insurance companies negotiate significant discounts on the prices they charge.
If you choose to visit an urgent care center or walk-in clinic in the United States either without health insurance altogether or outside of the provider network that your plan works with, not only will you end up paying a much higher cost for the same medical treatment as someone who has insurance or is in-network, but you will also likely have to pay upfront.
To Wrap Things Up:
Whether you are traveling for leisure or work, the last thing that you want to be hassling with on your trip is your health insurance policy, right? Regardless of the company that you choose to purchase the plan from, save yourself some headache and start researching your options early! At the end of the day, the decision is yours but take it from the experts and purchase a travel medical plan from your destination versus your home country.
You’ll thank us later.