With record travel expected this weekend, health experts say it’s important to know the details of your health insurance plan before you travel.
Cheyenne Autumn with UnitedHealthcare says it’s important to check before you actually need medical help.
She offered the following tips:
- Domestic travel -- check if health plan offers a national or local network of hospitals and health care providers, and confirm what level of coverage is available at out-of-network facilities.
- Overseas travel -- it is important to contact their primary care doctor or travel medicine clinic to determine what pre-screenings or immunizations might be recommended or required, based on their health history and the countries they will visit.
- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) enables people to search a list of countries and determine what vaccines they should consider.
Autumn says if you get sick out-of-state, most providers will help you find an in-network doctor on their website or mobile app.
Autumn says telemedicine is also a great option if you don’t want to physically go to a doctor.
“You can call a nurse 24/7,” said Autumn. "For example, let's say, 'My daughter is really sick but we don't know if it's food poisoning.' They will give them information right on the phone, as to where the nearest urgent care is or where they can find a physician or maybe how they can treat the instance right then and there.”
The following tips are from UnitedHealthcare:
- Contact your global insurance carrier to find out about the availability of approved medical facilities at planned travel destinations.
- Most domestic health plans provide limited coverage overseas, so people should consider international medical coverage to help alleviate concerns about quality of care and financial anxiety.
- People should look for global policies that can provide foreign-language translation, direct you to appropriate facilities or support evacuation to alternative facilities, and work with local health care providers to coordinate and monitor care.
- Most domestic insurance won’t cover prescriptions abroad, so for long vacations ask your care provider for enough medication to cover the duration of the trip
- Check that specific medications are legal in the countries you are visiting.
- Some international health plans may include prescription drug coverage that enables people to fill prescriptions at local retail pharmacies.
Get your credit:
- Even with international coverage, consider carrying an extra credit card with a large limit to use for unanticipated medical expenses.
- Foreign hospitals will typically want upfront payment, rather than billing the health plan. Get clear and complete copies of all bills, medical records and discharge notes for reimbursement from your health plan.
- Some global health plans do provide direct payments to foreign hospitals and care providers, eliminating a potential inconvenience and providing peace of mind.
If you have Medicare:
- Original Medicare in nearly all cases applies to the United States only and does not extend overseas or across the border (other than in cases in the Northern U.S. where the nearest hospital is in Canada).
- Some Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans offer worldwide emergency coverage for foreign travel, although some have restrictions and lifetime limits.
- It’s important to account for the working condition of durable medical equipment needed for the trip, such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps, before departure.