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Something to consider when traveling to Europe

Something to consider when traveling to Europe

Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Something to consider when traveling to Europe

I have always found this forum to be so helpful. I thought I would pass along a sad story that may help any future European tourists plan accordingly and hopefully prevent this type of situation happening to them or their loved ones.

A friend of my husband went with his wife on a vacation trip to Europe. While in Poland, his wife suffered a medical emergency requiring extended hospitalization (weeks) and significant care from the physicians there. They had taken out trip insurance, but unfortunately no trip medical insurance. Apparently, their insurance plan (they were both retired from a public school system)would not cover any of her medical bills, so they were paying all out of pocket. Before she could be transported home to the US, the Polish government made them pay in full the hospital bill. With help from the US Embassy, their insurance did pay for her to be flown back to the US, but, and this is one thing that blows my mind, the husband had to pay for the ambulance to take her from the airport to our local hospital.

I have not ever looked into what type of medical insurance there is for overseas trips, but I thought that I would share this story so that someone who feels the need, would possibly check it out. Maybe there are other Fodorite's who have tips to share regarding that type of insurance.

It has been a real nightmare for this family and is going to cost them a great deal financially as well.
I never entertain the thought of something like that happening when I go on vacation, but after hearing about this, I know I am going to prepare more fully if I plan to go out of the country. Hope this helps.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:17 PM
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A very helpful reminder.

What some people don't seem to realize is that many trip insurance policies can be laden with all sorts of exclusions, to include interruptions caused by events that are excluded and exclusions of certain "prior medical conditions."

I am not in the least surprised that someone had to pay out-of-pocket for transportation by ambulance.

Bottom line is to read the policies and conditions carefully before buying.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:22 PM
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I am so sorry, KandKsMom, for what the friend of your husband had to go through. How horrible to be on a wonderful vacation and have sonmething like that happen.

It is very ironic, because today I booked our flights to Italy, and NWA offered trip insurance through Access America, I spoke with one of their reps and the insurance covers both normal trip stuff, and medical expenses. I have NO idea how much coverage it is, I got another call I had to take and will have to call them back, but I found it pretty reasonable. It was like $45 per person. I was, at the time, thinking how horrible it would be for my husband or I to need such a thing, so I was very shocked to see your post.
Again, I am really sorry for that family.
May we all have safe and healthy travels, T.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:34 PM
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Intrepid1, I agree. I think what this really made me realize is to not only read through all of the policy's "fine print", but to get one that covers as much as possible medically. I do not know the extent or have the details of what this couple's trip insurance covered. I do know that the medical emergency was sudden and would not have fallen into a "prior existing condition". As I said, I have never bought trip insurance before. Are there policies that would cover emergency hospital stays, surgeries, etc. while abroad? I guess if any good comes out of situations like this, maybe it teaches naive people like me good lessons for the future.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:41 PM
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Unless their only medical insurance is Medicare they should be able to get reimbursed now that they are back in the states. I don't think Medicare will pay any out of country expenses but I know my health insurance (Aetna) will reimburse me on return. That doesn't help you come up with the money while there though.

www.insuremytrip.com lets you compare all the different travel insurances and lets you buy what you need. Many times when you buy through an airline/tour operator the policies are bundled with things you might not need or want and they are getting a commission for selling it to you. Travel medical insurance doesn't cover pre-existing medical conditions unless you purchase within 7-14 days of your first payment towards your trip.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:41 PM
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www.insuremytrip.com

will point you to a number of insurance policies and underwriters, with a variety of options.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:46 PM
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I believe that there are some credit card plans that offer free medical evacuation as a potential benefit, should one become ill on a foreign trip, provided you used the card to pay for your travel. One might want to check in with one's card company/sponsor to see what kind of coverage they offer that way.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:51 PM
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People may also want to check out MedJet Assist. It does not cover medical care but it does cover medical evacuation. The medical evacuation is much broader than what is generally included in travel insurance. With most travel insurance policies, medical evacuation is included but only if it is medically necessary and only to a facility chosen by the insurance company. (For example, you could be evacuated from a hosptial in a small town in South Africa to a larger better equipped hospital in Capetown.) Under MedJet Assist's plan, they will evacuate you from one hospital to any other hospital of your choice. The only requirement is that your initial hospitalization is located over 150 miles from your home. Furthermore, the transfer does not need to be medically necessary; you just need to be hospitalized at both ends of evacuation. We have it and hope to never use it, but it certainly gives us some peace of mind.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 06:35 PM
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Very good reminder ,,, and if you do have health insurance that will cover you outside the US, it's also a good idea to take with you the emergency contact number and any other pertinent information.

Our Blue Cross card, for example, only has an 800 number, which wouldn't work from Europe. But the BC web site has another number to call collect from overseas. It also has a list of BC affiliated doctors and medical facilities in various countries.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 07:15 PM
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Hello kandKsmom, I must admit I have never purchased any type of medical insurance for foreign travel but I decided some months ago in the future that I will.

The sad story you shared with all of us is indeed a "heads up" of the necessity of this.

I hope that everything works out for your friends.

And thanks again for the reminder of the importance of covering all basis wherever possible.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 08:01 PM
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Since I travel fairly extensively in Europe, I checked before changing my health insurance a number of years ago to make sure my insurance would cover me in Europe. As my health carrier is Fortis (with main offices in the Netherlands) I am covered fully in Europe. My partner is on Medicare and has a supplemental policy, and he too made sure that his supplemental would cover him in Europe. Neither of our plans are any higher than similar plans we found that did not cover us out of the country. Do you know how much extra health insurance would be for one of our 5 month trips to Europe? Too much!
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 08:08 PM
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Kandksmom: Thank you for such an important piece of information that is often overlooked. My inlaws make several trips a year to the UK and Germany. I'm certain that my FIL, who is in his eighties, and my MIL who is in the early stages of Leukemia, have not thought about this (I haven't either). Now I have to find a delicate way to bring this to their attention. I wish your friends well.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 08:30 PM
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Great thread, KandKsmom. Just yesterday, I booked my parents on their first European flight for this summer. They will travel with myself and DH. Your topic is very timely, and I will be looking into the websites mentioned here (insuremytrip.com, credit card coverages, and medjet assist). Thank you for your very insightful comments.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 12:29 AM
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Look closely at the comparisons, I have asthma so always want the exclusion of preexisitng conditions. You usually have to purchase the insurance within a certain amount of time from booking your trip to get this, I have seen the time from 48 hours to 21 days out. Also I noticed on a recent comparison, two poicies close in cost ..one offered $10,000 in medical coverage, the other $50,000, a huge difference. I really like how you can line them up side by side and check the differences on insuremytrip.

On my last trip I was home 1 1/2 days and was suddenly struck with a serious digestive problem requiring hospitalization and in the beginning talk of surgery, luckily was not required. I had not purchased travel insurance for that trip.

It was a big wake up call. Even if your insurance pays, it can be a real hassel to deal with them in a foreign hospital. Also the medical evacuation is what I like and since I travel alone, that under some circumstances they would fly someone over to be with you.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 03:33 AM
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Have not used the following sites but found them on another travel forum:

http://www.insuremytrip.com
http://www.squaremouth.com
http://totaltravelinsurance.com

Wishing everyone safe and healthy traveling.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:02 AM
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I have just purchased medical and evacuation insurance for an upcoming India trip through InterMedical Insurance.For a thirty day trip,the cost is just over $100.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:07 AM
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KandKsmom - Very good advice. We always travel with the maximum health insurance we can get. It lets us relax and enjoy ourselves. I bumped into a fellow client at the hair salon I go to and she told me that she had had to have a triple-bypass whilst on holiday in the USA and was not insured. The cost of the op & hospital care could build a medium size hospital over here! She spent a long time in ICU. Convinces me even more never to travel uninsured!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:12 AM
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I'm guessing many will have US health insurance with an "out of network" provision that, theoretically, covers European travel. HOWEVER, the paperwork will require that you pay out of pocket and then get reimbursed for whatever the insurance covers (as much as 50% if you're lucky ). SOOOO -- get paper receipts for EVERYTHING (no, they can't mail them to you or deliver to US), and guard the papers carefully. And good luck with the snarls of forms you'll be filling out when you get back.
 
Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:19 AM
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Cassandra made a great point. One of my students had a mishap in Germany when during a festival in Munich a cart with lady aboard went amuck and rolled over her foot in a crowd. Broken bones.

She is still 2 years later trying to get reimbursements and she had coverage. Her problems stemmed from the fact that she was underage and without a parent at the German hospital. It was a signed guardian. There is tons of paperwork and the reimbursements of even 40 or 50% are not always forthcoming.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:28 AM
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Good advice. Like Patrick's partner, our supplemental covers us in Europe and we always carry the coverage booklet pointing that out with us. I'm not sure about evacuation and will certainly check that out.

K&Ksmom, I hope your friend is doing well and the emergency surgery she had was successful and she is convalescing nicely. One thing I would point out is the fact that although it was unfortunate her husband had to pay out of pocket, you can rest assured it didn't cost them the thousands and thousands of dollars it would have cost here.

We have a second cousin who was visiting Germany and collapsed while there. He received a quadruple bypass, and while I don't know how his expenses were reimbursed, he was pleasantly surprised how little it cost for excellent care compared to the US.
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