One of the first questions that comes to mind when purchasing a visitors health insurance plan is: Which doctor services or hospital facilities can I use within my policy? The answer to this question depends on two factors:
- Type of plan you have (Comprehensive Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) type or Limited Coverage Plan)
- Area of coverage (In USA or Outside USA)
Types of Plans & Medical Providers
On a comprehensive coverage plan, you can visit the doctors or facilities listed in your PPO network and avail the advantage of direct billing to the insurance company. You can also take advantage of a preferred negotiated rate that is contracted upon by the healthcare provider and the insurance company. However, that doesn't mean that you cannot go to a doctor of your choice if they're not enlisted in the PPO network. You may visit any doctor of your choice, but the percentage paid for by the insurance company might be lower for some plans if you choose a provider outside the network.
On a limited coverage plan, you can choose to visit any doctor. However, it's at the discretion of the healthcare provider to opt for billing the insurance company directly or ask you to pay upfront. In the latter case, you'll be reimbursed by the insurance company.
Area of Coverage & Medical Provider
Since the insurance companies providing these plans are based in the U.S., the list of healthcare providers participating in PPO networks is much more exhaustive compared to other countries, where you may be eligible for coverage. A few plans do have tie-ups with doctors in some countries outside the United States. However, it's highly possible that if you're taking medical services outside the U.S., you would need to pay upfront to the provider and then get reimbursement from the insurance company in the U.S.
Searching for Providers in the PPO Networks
If you're looking for visitors insurance in the U.S., follow these easy steps to get your best option once you have decided which plan you want to purchase:
- Search Travel Insurance Providers online
- Click on the Find Providers link.
- Select the Plan that applies to you.
- Click on Providers Directory on the plan page (This link will take you to the PPO network home page, where you can browse through participating providers by facility type or provider name by using your address or your zip code.)
If you need visitors insurance coverage outside the U.S., you can obtain lists of doctors near you by calling toll free travel assistance numbers provided on your ID card.