Quality health insurance is crucial for those living in countries where medical costs are high, like the U.S. But what about if you’re just traveling to these countries? Is travel insurance with medical coverage really a must-have to add to your packing list? And if you are traveling without insurance in the U.S., what should you do when facing an urgent medical situation? There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s break it down.
Do Visitors to the U.S. Need Travel Insurance?
Unless your destination country requires all tourists to purchase a travel medical insurance plan, it's up to every individual traveler to decide whether travel insurance is necessary for them. You don’t need travel insurance to enter America, but if an unexpected, emergency medical situation comes up, without travel insurance, you could be looking at some high medical debt. Ultimately, as a trusted traveler advocate, it’s VisitorsCoverage’s goal to empower you to make your own informed decisions when it comes to your travel safety.
If you're an immigrant living in the U.S. you'll probably want your overseas family to visit you. Paying a small amount upfront can give your loved ones physical and financial protections if they need urgent medical care during their time in America. If your relatives are elderly, or in poor health, they may be more susceptible to illness or injury. Even if your visiting loved ones don’t end up using the travel insurance, it still gives them something essential for them to enjoy their trip to the U.S.: peace of mind. Travel insurance with medical care will keep you and your family members stress-free during their stay, so you can focus on spending time together.
Likewise, if your relatives are more adventurous and likely to engage in strenuous activities in the United States, they might be more likely to be injured. In those cases, having travel insurance that covers adventure sports can not only ensure that your loved ones get the care they need, but it can save you a lot of money.
If you’re planning on visiting the U.S., there are many reasons to buy travel insurance, but the cost-saving benefits are the most compelling. For under a hundred dollars you can get medical coverage that could save you thousands. In the end, you’ll want to do the math yourself, and figure out if travel insurance is worth it for you and your loved ones. If you decide that travel insurance isn’t what you need, scroll down and check out our tips for navigating a medical event when you’re visiting the U.S. without insurance.
We often get calls from people who want to buy insurance only when they're in a medical situation or when their visiting parents/relatives are in need of medical attention. Unfortunately, you can't buy a visitors insurance policy after a problem arises. Travel insurance is preventative coverage.
In general, when it comes to travel insurance, it's better to have coverage and not need it than to need coverage and not have it.
Tips for Uninsured Visitors to America
If you or your loved ones are traveling in the U.S. without travel insurance designed specifically for visitors to the U.S., here are some tips.
- If you're in need of medical services and it's not an emergency situation, do some research and find a non-profit hospital or facility. Such service providers may have reasonably low charges for the services they provide.
- If you're facing a life-threatening medical situation, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest medical center.
While most hospitals or service providers may not insist that you pay before they offer you treatment, some may require you to pay first. In some cases, the service provider may even ask you to sign a waiver declaration, stating that you would be responsible to make the payments.
Reducing your medical costs
Unfortunately, hospitals or doctors don't publish their rates. If you or your visiting loved ones are uninsured and need medical services, you should be prepared to pay significant medical fees. The high cost of U.S. healthcare could cost an uninsured patient hundreds or thousands of dollars for a simple doctor visit.
When you're uninsured, you should research all possible ways to negotiate, waive, and reduce your fees. Here are some tips.
- Talk to the billing department: Find out if the medical provider has a waiver policy. Some hospitals even have a waiver program for lower-income patients.
- Request for discount: Providers may agree to offer some discount. In many cases, hospitals may offer anywhere from 25% to 70% discount.
- Payment terms: Ask if the payment can be made in affordable installments, such as paying a certain dollar amount per month over a year or two.
- Remember that providers offer different benefits: Thus the aforementioned tips may not hold true for each policy.
As long as it's not legally required of you, the decision of whether or not to buy travel insurance will always be up to you. I If you have any more questions or need help deciding if visitors insurance is right for you and your visitors, our Customer Success Team of licensed travel insurance experts is happy to help.