Stats: 35 Percent of Americans Don’t Know If Their Health Insurance Works Abroad

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Many Americans remain unclear about the cost of medical care while traveling, according to a new study from InsureMyTrip Research Center.

In a 2017 survey, 35 percent of respondents sure whether their domestic health insurance plan would cover any doctor or hospital visits while traveling out of the country. 35 percent said it would provide coverage, while 30 percent believed their domestic health insurance plan would offer no coverage.

According to InsureMyTrip, large insurance providers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna and Aetna may provide emergency and urgent care coverage abroad. However, the definition of emergency varies. Medicare will rarely pay for inpatient hospital, doctor, or ambulance services travelers get in a foreign country.

Travelers can request clarification of coverage prior to departure. Here’s how:

  1. Call your medical insurance provider
  2. Ask to review your certificate of coverage for explanation of benefits
  3. Ask for hospitals and doctors in area of travel

According to the U.S. State Department, very few health insurance companies will pay for a medical evacuation back to the United States, which can easily cost up to $100,000, or even more, depending on a travelers’ condition and location.

In addition to seeking proper medical protection, travelers can also reduce health risks by learning about destination-specific medical concerns, including required vaccinations, InsureMyTrip said. The U.S. State Department is a helpful resource. The U.S. Federal Consumer Action Handbook also provides travel insurance recommendations for travelers.

The survey was conducted online among 500 respondents in the U.S. All respondents either researched or purchased travel insurance within the past 12 months.