Many travelers to the U.S. are surprised when they have to pay upfront for their prescription medications at the pharmacy. Unlike domestic insurance plans, when you’re relying on travel insurance, it’s required to pay for your medication first and then file a claim for reimbursement.
The reason for this is that not all pharmacies recognize all types of insurance, especially travel insurance. Specifically, pharmacies do not maintain or connect with databases of customers who have travel medical insurance. Why? Travel insurance policies are short-term, temporary health insurance policies issued for foreign travelers.
It is practically impossible for travel insurance companies to maintain a centralized database of information for foreign tourist and short-term medical insurance policyholders. So, if they don’t recognize the insurance plan – that is, they can’t look up and verify what the insurance provider will pay – they require payment for the medications and you must then file a claim for reimbursement.
Can I Go to Any Pharmacy?
Yes you can. Travel insurance for the U.S. doesn’t offer preferred provider networks for pharmacies. You can go to any pharmacist of your choice. The prescription you take to a U.S. pharmacy must have been written on the prescription pad from a licensed doctor.
How Do I Buy Prescription Medicine?
Buying prescription drugs in the U.S. doesn’t have to be complicated. After presenting your prescription to the pharmacist, they’ll fill the order for the medication and request full payment. In some cases, you can opt for a less expensive prescription medicine (generic) if the branded medicine is too expensive. Your doctor should note on the prescription whether generics are acceptable.
To keep your upfront payment lower, look for your prescribed drug and dosage on prescription discount sites like GoodRX.com.
What Does the Prescription Claims Process Involve?
Keep a copy of your prescription and the receipt for your payment as well as any other paperwork given to you by the pharmacist. Once you fill out your forms and make copies of the prescription, receipt, and other papers, you’ll submit these to the insurance company. It’s important to make copies and not just send the originals. That way if something happens to one of the documents you can always resubmit it without any trouble. See the claim form for instructions to submit. Your claim will be paid according to the terms of your policy.