Travel Insurance

Average Cost of Medical Services in the US (& How to Prepare)

Average Cost of Medical Services in the US (& How to Prepare)

You won’t believe it till you see it: The jaw-dropping reality of average medical services costs in the US can be a lot to take in. Serious treatments can cost up to a few hundred thousand dollars without insurance.

The good news? Travel medical insurance has your back. It can cover a large portion of eligible treatment costs, helping international travelers avoid a serious financial setback if they need medical care while visiting the US.

Keep reading to learn the average costs of US medical services and what you need to know about travel medical insurance.

The Visual Breakdown: Average Costs of US Medical Services

Even if you’re not a US citizen, you’re still subject to paying the same costs if you receive treatment in the US. Take a look at a few examples of average medical treatment costs in the US to see just how important health insurance really is.

What Is Travel Medical Insurance?

Travel medical insurance, also known as visitors insurance, is designed to cover eligible medical expenses when you travel overseas. Every policy is unique, but it generally offers coverage for unexpected medical emergencies like new illnesses or injuries when you’re abroad.

What Does Travel Medical Insurance Cover in the US?

Travel medical insurance generally covers the following in the US:

  • Urgent care visits: Visits to urgent care centers due to unexpected injuries or illnesses
  • Emergency room services: Services provided due to severe injuries or illnesses
  • Emergency dental coverage: Reimbursement for emergency dental care (limitations apply)
  • Prescriptions: Any necessary medications required to address new medical conditions
  • Emergency medical evacuation: Transportation to the nearest capable facility to treat a medical emergency
  • COVID-19: Treats COVID-19 like any other new illness if contracted after effective date

Again, since every policy is not the same, we encourage you to read the coverage options carefully. This ensures you’ll make the most informed choice for your circumstances.

Why Is Travel Medical Insurance Important?

Having travel medical insurance when you visit the US is important for the following reasons:

  • High healthcare costs. Without insurance, the average person will spend at least a few hundred dollars on a doctor’s visit. A travel medical insurance plan can assist you with these costs for covered reasons.
  • Limited coverage. While you might have health insurance in your home country, your existing domestic insurance will likely not be valid for medical care in the US.
  • Emergencies happen. Emergencies are inevitable. In the event you get seriously ill or injured, you’ll want coverage that will get you the help you need without the burden of high emergency costs.
  • Peace of mind. This is so crucial! Having insurance lets you focus on enjoying your time away without stressing about medical costs.

Do I Need Travel Medical Insurance When Visiting the US?

Purchasing travel medical insurance is not required for US tourists, but we highly recommend obtaining it due to the high costs of US healthcare.

For reference:

  • A typical physician’s visit without insurance is between $300 and $600. Costs vary depending on any lab tests required, where you’re getting medical care, and the procedures performed during your visit.
  • Healthcare costs in the US reached $4.5 trillion in 2022. This averages out to $13,493 per person.

Why Are Medical Services So Expensive in the US?

It’s a complicated question with a complicated answer. In essence, increasing costs of healthcare services, high insurance premiums, and complex tax policies/incentives around employer-sponsored insurance versus non-employer plans are key elements that have contributed to high US healthcare costs. 

What’s the Difference Between Trip Insurance and Travel Medical Insurance?

As you’re looking through insurance options, you will likely come across the terms trip insurance and travel medical insurance. While it’s easy to use them interchangeably, they do in fact hold different meanings. 

  • Travel or visitors medical insurance helps cover medical care for unexpected illnesses and injuries that might happen abroad. These plans are designed for individuals traveling outside of their home country.
  • Trip insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for unexpected delays or events that may happen during your trip. These plans are designed for U.S. residents traveling domestically or abroad. Examples include flight delays or trip cancellations and lost or stolen luggage. Policies may reimburse you for a percentage of prepaid trip costs up to the limits noted on your plan.

How to Select the Right Health Insurance Plan: 5 Considerations

Whether you’re looking into insurance plans for yourself, your parents, or your children, five areas merit careful thought to identify the best visitor insurance.

1. Policy Maximum

The higher the maximum, the better. This is especially true if you’re someone older and more susceptible to encountering health roadblocks during your vacation. Keep in mind, though, policy maximums work differently when it comes to selecting a limited vs. comprehensive coverage plan.

2. Limited vs. Comprehensive Coverage

You’ll likely run into two types of travel medical insurance—limited and comprehensive coverage. There are a few defining characteristics that differentiate them.

Plan Premiums

Limited coverage is typically cheaper than comprehensive coverage. You can expect lower premiums with limited coverage and higher premiums with comprehensive coverage. 

Services Covered

Limited coverage plans provide basic medical coverage. They’re ideal for those who simply want protection for lower-risk medical circumstances. Comprehensive plans offer more extensive coverage. Going the comprehensive route is smart if you’re at higher risk for illness or injury.

Coverage Rates

Limited coverage pays a fixed rate per incident up to the policy’s maximum. Comprehensive coverage typically pays anywhere from 75% to 100% of eligible medical costs after you meet your deductible. 

Let’s say you have a $50,000 policy maximum. In a comprehensive plan, your insurance will cover up to $50,000 for any eligible medical expenses you have.

However, in a limited plan, a set amount of money is allocated for each specific medical service. So, even if your plan has a $50,000 maximum, it only applies to the total of all the fixed individual costs covered under the plan.

3. Deductible

This is the amount of money that you have to pay for medical services before your benefits take effect. For example, if your deductible is $100, you must pay $100 in medical expenses first before your insurance provider begins to help with the costs.

4. Length of Coverage

Make sure your prospective insurance plan covers the time frame of your stay. Most plans at VisitorsCoverage provide protection from 60 to 365 days. 

5. Provider Network

Check to see if your provider has a PPO (preferred provider organization) you can use to save on out-of-pocket costs. A health plan with contracts with PPOs will cover more medical costs for those providers than providers outside the PPO network. 

Leverage Simplified Resources with VisitorsCoverage

There’s a lot to navigate in the world of travel medical insurance. But with the right partner, you can simplify the process and identify the right plan for you and your loved ones. 

At VisitorsCoverage, we exclusively provide premier travel insurance plans sourced from trusted insurance providers. We streamline the process for travelers like yourself to explore, compare, and purchase travel insurance seamlessly online. Our top-notch Customer Success Team is readily available to answer any questions or guide you through selecting the ideal policy for your needs.