One of our most frequently asked questions is about travel medical insurance billing. If you have seen a doctor or visited a medical facility, the question as to whether you have to pay upfront and then get reimbursed, or if the insurance company will pay directly to the provider becomes a real concern.
What Comes First – the Medical Billing or the Payment?
Travel medical insurance plans provide temporary health insurance for a short duration and for limited use. Therefore most of the usual regulations of domestic insurance are not applicable to them. Travel medical insurance can also be used internationally, throughout the world. It is practically impossible to have direct billing guaranteed and at the same time keep the cost low.
U.S. based travel insurance, if used within the U.S. or Canada, does have the advantage of having preferred provider organization or PPO network support, and they are easily accessible, if needed. Many U.S. medical providers offer direct billing for medical fees and services since they are in-network with specific insurance companies.
However, sometimes they might ask you to pay upfront and get reimbursed later on. If this happens, you should pay them and ask for the itemized bill to be sent to you so that you can file a claim with your travel insurance company for reimbursement.
Rest Assured – Your Valid Claims Will Be Paid
Reading the plan brochure can help you understand not only what your type of coverage is, but also what is covered and not covered. You can be assured that once you submit all the necessary paperwork, if you have a valid claim, it will likely be honored and in that case, you’d likely be reimbursed for any covered medical expenses by the insurance company.
Filing a Travel Medical Insurance Claim Form is Mandatory
For all travel medical insurance plans, filing an insurance claim is required even if the doctor or facility bills the insurance company directly or asks you to pay upfront. To initiate the claims process, you will need to send in the completed claim form, a copy of the passport of the insured, and any supporting documentation like copies of itemized bills from the medical provider, receipts from pharmacies, or official doctors’ notes.
The claims process can differ depending on the insurer, but you can find specifics about the filing process, and the contact number on the insurance policy documents. Without that information, even if the claim is filed by the medical provider themselves, the claim will not be processed.
“Filing claims does not mean paying upfront”
People often misunderstand that filing claims requires you to pay first and then get reimbursed. This is not true. Once you have received services for any new illness or accident, you will want to let the insurance company know that you have been treated and you will be getting any and all information ready to send them.
If you have any questions, it’s okay to call and ask questions before you leave your destination in case there is something you missed, or more information is needed. It is much easier to gather information at the time of service than it is several weeks after the fact. This can make your filing process go more smoothly, especially should you be far from home with different time zones, or in a foreign country with language barriers.
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As you head out on your travels, we want you to not only enjoy your journey, but also know what to do should something unexpected happen. We know it’s hard to think of everything, but we have several types of travel medical plans that offer varying degrees of coverage, depending on your age, destination and length of stay. Some plans include pre-existing condition coverage designed specifically for visitors to the U.S., where healthcare costs are notoriously high. Should your trip get interrupted by illness or injury, or even need to cancel your trip, a Cancel For Any Reason add-on benefit is something you may want to look into before your departure.
If you need assistance finding a plan that will work for your trip, our Customer Success Team is ready to help!