Many travelers are surprised to discover that preventative care and routine checkups and services even flu shots and the COVID-19 shot, regular prescriptions aren’t covered by their travel medical insurance.
There are several reasons that travel medical insurance plans don’t cover routine care, but the primary reason is cost. Essentially, if every travel insurance company was required to pay for routine care and checkups as well as emergency care and services, a lot of insured travelers would visit the doctor for minor health issues and preventative care while abroad. This would cause the cost of travel insurance to skyrocket.
Travel Insurance Covers Sudden Illnesses
Some visitors to the U.S. believe that they can buy travel medical insurance and get medical treatment for minor and routine situations. For example, a visitor with an existing heart condition who’s on blood pressure medication may make the mistake of believing that as long as they have travel insurance they can stop into a medical facility for a blood pressure check. This is not true.
Travel insurance is meant to help travelers who need sudden and emergency medical care while they are away from their home country. It’s not meant to act as a direct substitute for their domestic healthcare. If you’re facing a genuine medical emergency, a sudden illness, or injury which manifests after the policy effective date, your medical treatment will be covered by travel insurance. This means that you can get the emergency care you need without going into crushing medical debt.
What Constitutes Emergency Medical Care?
So what exactly constitutes emergency medical care? Here’s a look at the types of events that most travel medical insurance policies may cover provided they occur with the policy effective dates:
- Treatment of injuries resulting from a car accident
- Severe dehydration resulting from the flu
- Surgery to repair a broken hip resulting from a slip and fall accident
- Treatment for continuous vomiting due to food poisoning
- Emergency treatment for a snake bite
The common characteristic of all these medical events is that they are sudden, unexpected events.
Travel Insurance & Medical Tourism
While some people suffering terrible illnesses and injuries can, with careful planning and very specific permissions, come to the United States for a much needed surgery, U.S. visitors can not expect to use their travel insurance for these kinds of situations.
Some may attempt to take advantage of better treatment, better medications, and better care the U.S. has to offer, but travel medical insurance is limited to emergency medical events that occur during the effective policy dates. In some cases, working immigrants might bring their parents and other family members to the U.S. expecting them to receive free, quality medical care.
However, the reality is that these family members would likely not receive medical attention and if they did, the medical expenses would be devastating. So it’s crucial to understand that travel health insurance covers only the insured and is limited to medical events that occur while that individual is covered.
The U.S. healthcare system is not designed to care for foreign visitors and medical care is not free.
Tourists to the U.S. have only two options to get emergency medical care in the U.S.:
- Pay for medical treatment out of pocket
- Purchase adequate travel health insurance while booking the U.S. trip to cover emergency medical care needed while in the U.S.
Travel medical insurance is only for emergency medical or urgent treatment of sudden and unexpected illness or injury while you are traveling in the U.S. It will usually not cover pre-existing conditions.
If you have questions about what is covered and what is not covered by travel health insurance, visit our page on travel medical insurance or get a quote about a visitors travel insurance plan. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact our award winning Customer Success Team for help.