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onthegogo May 2nd, 2005 09:11 AM

Do you buy travel health ins. coverage for out-of-country?
Going to France in July, and although we have very good health coverage here -- it seems a little unclear exactly what they would cover if out of country (maybe they don't want to commit). I believe our credit card would probably cover us if we were in an automobile accident in a car rental, but the rest of the time I guess it would be pay first and try to collect $ later. Have you bought insurance? If so, ever used it? Can you recommend any particular insurance co's or ones to stay away from. Thanks.

BarryK May 2nd, 2005 10:03 AM

If you're not sure, call your insurance company. Mine (BC/BS PPO) does cover things out of the country. They even have an international network, a dedicated (call collect) phone number to call if needed, and will arrange payment directly with the hospitals.

Christina May 2nd, 2005 11:28 AM

no, I haven't, as my insurance covers me abroad and I don't worry about paying out of pocket for minor visits, plus I'm very healthy. Lots of other folks feel differently though and there have been lots of posts on here about it. If it really bothers you, you can buy extra coverage for not too much money (maybe a couple hundred, as I recall). go to and compare policies for details.

I don't know about your credit card covering your medical bills in an accident, I'll double check on that regarding your assumption that you would not have to pay first. Even the more simpler auto damage coverage they have requires you to pay out first and get reimbursed later, so I would be surprised if the opposite were true for any medical coverage on the card. But, you could be right and I'm just surprised (I admit I haven't looked into it that much).

Your insurance company should not be unclear in what they cover. This isn't a verbal commitment on their part, it's in their contract with whomever is paying the premium -- if it's a plan through your employer and you are having trouble with them telling you, go to your Human Resources benefits person to make them get accurate information.

StuDudley May 2nd, 2005 11:44 AM

I have Cigna PPO. In '01, I had to have some somewhat minor emergency surgery in France. The entire outpatient surgery by a doctor cost me about 50E. Perscriptions were about 80E. Cigna reimbursed me for everyhing.

Stu Dudley

Ann1 May 2nd, 2005 11:56 AM

Even though my primary insurance covers us and our secondary insurance also covers us, the travel insurance we purchase has medical as a portion of it. We travel frequently and I feel travel insurance is a necessity. As far as medical insurance, I wouldn't look at how healthy you are. We have seen many times that people have been hurt and needed medical help immediately. Broken legs, falling, etc. Young and old. As mentioned before, I would pin the insurance company down and have them fax you their specific policy on European travel.

wantagig May 2nd, 2005 12:02 PM

I've never purchased it either. I spoke once with a woman who caused me to reconsider the idea of buying it. She and her husband were traveling in Venice when he had a heart attack. She wanted to get him back to the states where they could take "better care of him and his condition". The airline would not allow him to travel as he wasn't able to sit up or walk. They were prepared to lay out $100,000 to rent a private jet but unfortunately he took a turn for the worse and passed away.

Even though we're both fit and healthy, something horrible like a dog attack or an accidental fall could possibly happen. If you're bed ridden, it could be very costly to get back to the states.

No one likes to go on vacation anticipating the worst, yet after talking with that woman, I'm interested in learning more about trip insurance.

As a side note, when my sister was in Rome, she was walking and looking up when she stepped into a pot hole in the street, fell down and broke her foot. The hospital fixed her up, and said "you're our guest in this country, there will be no charge". She did have to find (not easy) and pay for crutches (they came in one size) and that was all.

ira May 2nd, 2005 12:03 PM

Hi on,

Have you called your insurance carrier?

You might also be interested in Evacuation Insurance
Basic membership gives you 100k worth of evacuation insurance (not medical coverage- but just to get you home) for diving or non-diving accidents or injuries from anywhere 50 miles from your home or farther. The family membership is $44.


halfpint May 2nd, 2005 12:22 PM

Also if you are medicare age, medicare does not cover out of the country so that is why I always buy the health insurance. Have had a few friends very glad they had purchased it, falling, ending up in the hospital in Malaga, Spain for 5 days, they had to pay the bill but were reembursed ;with their insurance upon return home. Also if you should need to be evacuated, VERY VERY EXPENSIVE. Best to be safe if you are over 65. Halfpint

Ann1 May 2nd, 2005 12:42 PM

Best to be safe no matter how old you are. The little bit it costs can save you a fortune.

clevelandbrown May 2nd, 2005 12:58 PM

Once a year I have the opportunity to change my group coverage to one of many plans approved (and partly paid for) by my employer. Last year I spent a great deal of time evaluating the various plans, and one of the main considerations was overseas coverage. There was a very wide range of options, with some offering good coverage, some offering mediocre coverage, and some offering virtually no coverage.

So my first suggestion would be to look in the coverage agreement your insurer provided you and see just what they cover. Be very careful in reading this, as sometimes the language is accurate but, perhaps, misleading. For example, a policy that offers coverage for accidents or injuries very likely does not offer coverage for illness; in other words, you are covered if you fall and break a leg, but not covered if you have a heart attack.

I would suggest that you look for three things: 1, coverage of all medical treatment (probably excluding elective treatments); 2, evacuation coverage (I found this in none of the group policies I looked at); and 3, (unrelated to health but related to trip insurance) the traditional coverage for disasters, such as having to cancel a trip due to illness (since most of us appear to buy non-refundable tickets).

I would also be skeptical of advice given in this forum, not that I mistrust the posters, but that I think in the US insurance is a hodgepodge of variety, largely regulated by different states' laws, and it is not unlikely that a company the provides x in a policy sold in state a, would not provide x in a policy sold in state b.

Once you have certainty about the extent of the coverage you already have, and have decided what supplemental coverage you need,

seems to have a lot of information on various companies' coverages, and could possibly steer you in the right direction.

nibblette May 2nd, 2005 01:51 PM

Agree with clevlandbrown. Read your regular policy carefully and specifically ask questions about coverage and reimbursement.

If you are talking about the CC CDW, it covers material damage to the car only. It DOES NOT cover any medical costs. Better reread your CC fine print to understand the extent of coverage.

I am covered but have a deductible that I am still liable for. I buy TI because it does help cover this. Even though your insurance says you are covered, be aware that overseas hospitals and doctors will NOT accept your insurance. What coverage often means is you will be REIMBURSED for the expenses. But at the time of the bill, payment is due immediately. That may mean out-of-pocket while you are overseas and reimbursement only after the receipts are sent in and approved.

Some policies are like BarryK's where they will arrange a payment to the hospital. Again, you need to check with your carrier about their policy and GET IT IN WRITING!

Also most policies do not cover evacuation. Something also to check with your policy. TI does. You never know what can happen. I am young and healthy but ended having to go to a doctor because of a big fall and resulting injury.

CarolA May 2nd, 2005 02:20 PM

As Halfpint pointed out... if you are using Medicare as a primary you do not have ANY coverage outside of the US. I did a trip with a 67 year old woman and the insurance was probably her best investment. (Day 1 in London she fell and broke her arm in three places had to return home for surgery and a pin installed)

If you buy a Medicare supplement plan check for international coverage. We got one for my mom with coverage and evacuation insurance on it!

StuDudley May 2nd, 2005 02:41 PM

>>>She and her husband were traveling in Venice when he had a heart attack. She wanted to get him back to the states where they could take "better care of him and his condition". <<

I wonder if this was the advice of their US physician, or an Italian physician?

>> unfortunately he took a turn for the worse and passed away.<<

My closest friend had to have a follow up cancer procedure done in Rome (they have a second home close by in Tuscany). The original cancer therapy was done in the US. The Rome doctor said that the type of bladder cancer he has, sometimes recurred and that another procedure should be done to reduce the chance of recurrence. His US doctor never told him this. Upon return to the US, he consulted a third doctor & had the procedure done by him (also switched primary doctors).

I can understand wanting to come home for better care if you are traveling in a third world country, but Italy???
Stu Dudley

dsm22 May 2nd, 2005 03:36 PM

I have decided to opt for buying coverage on my next trip. It is unclear whether my current health insurance will cover me if I am over seas. I am still waiting for a straight answer.

Plus, my company has raised our deductable again, to $2000.00! My boss has changed my coverage 5 times in the 6 years I have been working for him. So, I am taking no chances. I can get a very good plan with trip insurance and health insurance, as well as theft on personal belongings. I think it is about $130.00. Worth it for the piece of mind.

CarolA May 3rd, 2005 07:12 AM


I hate to trash anyone's health care system, but the treatment my injured friend got in London was HORRID!

Apparently since she was 67 they felt they should just let the bones heal and see what would happen. When questioned by the nurse traveling with us about loss of mobility we were told... we just wait and see and then deal with it and that "at her age you just have to expect that" . At that point we contacted the insurance company and got her home where 67 is not considered that old and due to surgery she has 100% mobility in the arm.

So... I can understand wanting to get someone home for treatment.

SW May 3rd, 2005 07:56 AM

Even if your insurance company covers you out of the country you may have to pay for the medical expenses first. Then you will need to obtain copies of the medical records/bills etc to bring home to send with your claim for reimbursement. To top it off the insurance company may require you to pay for translations of the records into English. So strictly speaking you may be covered but you may have to jump through a few loops to be reimbursed. As BarryK has stated BC and BS have an international network. They will deal directly with the contracted hospitals.

yy4me May 3rd, 2005 08:49 AM

Hi onthego, best advice, travel insurance is cheap peace of mind. We have travelled 6 times to Europe and always bought travel insurance. My BCBS does not cover out of country and my husband has Veterans insurance and Medicare. Neither cover out of country. There are many companies that write the coverage. We have had good luck with TravelGuard out of Portland Maine. Just bought for our next trip and the policy for the 2 of us is $104.00. It covers other things too but the medical and evacuation coverage is the most important. I have heard too many horror stories about things happening and US insurance is not applicable. Do read the sections in Fodor's,Frommers and other travel books about insurance carriers. Have fun. yy4me.

yy4me May 3rd, 2005 08:56 AM

Just a quick correction, Travel Guard is not out of Portland, that was my car rental company. Travel Guard # is
1-800-826-4919. We bought the Essential Basic for $104.00.(comes with trip cancellation ins among other things. Rate is based on age and trip non-refundable costs.

JJ5 May 3rd, 2005 09:04 AM

I will probably do this for out-of-country from now on. I'm glad I've read all this, as it seems the deductable and transit fees can be huge.

There are three cases I know of personally where people have returned home from the British Isles for treatment. One was in Ireland, and two from England. The one from Ireland she was a dual citizen and still the patient was 79 and they refused a "chronic" treatment for a disease at "her" age. She ended up living in the USA with her daughter to get better COPD help.

And I knew one that came back from Munich, Germany after some treatment there (cart rolled over her foot during a street festival). This girl actually
had to have some of the treatment redone once she got home. They bound and sewed, but she almost lost a toe in the process- and they would not do a surgery without a parent there. Guardian wasn't enough.

Sorry, I am not a fan of some of these Health Care Systems, and I don't think you can apologize for saying what happened, when it did. Actually Italian relatives tell me it is either very good or not good at all depending on where you are. Can't say that it is very different in the USA either.

But if over 70, I would think you may very well want to take some coverage.

JJ5 May 3rd, 2005 09:10 AM

Forgot to say, that on the Munich one, the costs ran to over $1000. And that was just the part from the German treatment that their insurance was not yet reimbursing. It sure would have helped to have some coverage, regardless of the guardian/parent situation.

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