While shopping for travel insurance for visiting parents or relatives, people often wonder if they can include these visitors in their own existing health insurance plans like BlueCross, BlueShield, Kaiser, Aetna, United health care (UHC) etc. However, this is not possible. U.S. Domestic health plans are meant only for the US citizens, residents or legal workers, and their immediate family members residing in the USA. Visitors to the USA are not eligible for benefits on these plans. People often wonder why the domestic health insurance companies do not sell travel medical insurance. Let us explore some basic differences between domestic health insurance and travel Health insurance.
US Social Security Number / ITIN Number Required for Domestic Health Plans:
A valid Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) number, issued by the US government, is required to qualify for domestic health plans. Visitors to the USA, not having either of the two, are not eligible for domestic insurance policies. Hence they must purchase visitors medical health insurance to be covered for medical expenses in the USA. Some well-known visitor's health insurance companies or administrators include Seven corners, Multinational underwriters, among others.
Domestic Health Insurance Companies Do Not Sell Travel Insurance Plans:
Domestic health insurance companies do not cover visitors health insurance because it is not cost-effective for them to cater to a small segment of visitors, as their customers.
Visitors Health Insurances are Temporary:
Visitors insurance is temporary and can cover you for a minimum period of 5 days to a maximum period of 3 years. On the other hand, domestic health insurance policies can provide coverage from 1 month up to 65 years.
Cost and Benefits are Less for Visitors Insurance Plans:
For visitors insurance, the costs, benefits and variety of plans are much less compared to the domestic insurance plans. Visitors health insurance offers international coverage, while most domestic plans do not cover international travel. Moreover, there is no age restriction on visitors insurance, while domestic policies can be purchased for only up to 65 years.
Coverage Starts Immediately After The Purchase of Visitors Insurance Plans:
In case of visitors insurance, coverage starts immediately after purchase, with no wait for approval. With domestic insurance, there is a longer waiting period, and it is also subject to approval.
Pre-Existing Condition Coverage Rarely Available for Visitors Insurance Plans:
With very few exceptions, travel health insurance usually does not cover any pre-existing conditions, while most domestic group plans, provided by the employers do cover pre-existing conditions. It is not cost effective for insurance companies to offer coverage for pre-existing conditions for short term customers.
Travel Health Insurance Plans are Not Restricted to Any Provider Network:
For Visitor insurance plans, allow you to visit any doctor or hospital, as these are not restricted to a specific network. Domestic plans, on the other hand, offer less coverage if you visit hospitals or doctors outside the network.
Billing Process Depends on Individual Doctor or Hospital for Visitors Health Insurance Plans: Domestic Insurance plan holders must seek medical treatment from doctors or hospitals covered within the provider network. For VisitorsCoverage, the billing process usually depends on the individual hospital or doctor that the patient visits. They could either send the bill directly to the insurance company or ask the patient to pay upfront. If the medical facility asks you to pay them, then you must first pay the amount for the services and later file a claim with the insurance company. The insurance company will reimburse you with your expenses. For more details on claim process, please review Insurance Claim Process. Travel medical insurance works differently from domestic health insurance plans. Thus it is important for visitors to purchase visitors health insurance plan when visiting the USA or visiting some other country from the USA.