Whether you’re a traveler looking for travel insurance for your upcoming international trip, a U.S. resident trying to secure healthcare coverage for your foreign family members ahead of their visit, or an international traveler about to travel to America, there’s a travel medical insurance plan for your needs.
In fact, there’s such a wide variety of plans to choose from it’s often a challenge to select the right one. Fortunately, you can make your decision easier by first determining whether you need comprehensive or limited coverage. While limited coverage may work for travelers taking a short trip who are younger, in relatively good health, and don’t expect to engage in strenuous activity while abroad, it’s more likely that your best option will be a comprehensive travel medical insurance plan.
This is especially true for those embarking on longer trips, elderly travelers, or travelers with health issues. Read on to discover the advantages of comprehensive travel medical insurance.
The Benefits of Comprehensive Travel Insurance
While comprehensive travel insurance plans may be more expensive than limited coverage plans they offer much better and more flexible coverage. After a one-time deductible has been paid, insurance pays 80% for the initial $5,000, and thereafter 100%. So, for example, the risk for the insured is a maximum of 20% of the cost of the first $5,000, that is, $1,000. The rest is the responsibility of the insurance company.
Comprehensive insurance offers percentage-based coverage
One of the most compelling reasons for choosing a comprehensive plan is that it provides a portion or percentage of coverage. Depending on which plan you choose, the comprehensive plans offered at VisitorsCoverage would cover from 75% to 100% of the bill after the deductible, up to preset policy maximum. The limited coverage plans, on the other hand, are based on a fixed schedule of benefits. For these plans, the insurance company pays a pre-set dollar amount. The amounts paid for each service and treatment for the limited coverage plan are on the lower side. So, your out-of-pocket expenses are usually much higher with a limited coverage plan.
If you're more susceptible to medical issues, you'll want a comprehensive plan because you can generally get higher policy maximums, which means that the insurance company will take on more of the financial burden of each covered service. For example, if you have a comprehensive travel policy with a $50,000 policy maximum and a surgery costs you $20,000, you could be covered from $15,000 to $20,000. With the same policy maximum, and the same deductible, a limited coverage plan would cover you only up to $3,300.
Another advantage of comprehensive coverage insurance is that the deductible is only applied once in the whole policy period. For the limited or basic travel insurance plans, a new deductible is applied to each sickness or injury. So, for each unrelated sickness or injury, you would need to satisfy the deductible amount separately.
For example, a traveler with a limited coverage plan and a deductible of $100 goes to the doctor with a stomach complaint. For this, he has to first satisfy the deductible of $100 before the insurance starts paying based on the fixed schedule of benefits for several services and treatments related to stomach issues. But, if he goes to a doctor for some problem unrelated to the stomach issue, like a hip injury, he would need to satisfy the deductible amount of $100 again before the insurance starts paying for the new problem.
Keep in mind that for both comprehensive and limited insurance plans the insured would still be responsible for the co-pay costs for every medical service provided.
Comprehensive plans have the advantage of having a Preferred Providers Network. This means that if you go to a medical provider within the PPO Network, you get a reduced rate that's negotiated between the providers and the insurance company. However, you aren't obligated to seek in-network medical care.
Limited coverage plans don't have the advantage of having a PPO Network. So, the fees that are charged to a policyholder are much higher than they would be for someone with a comprehensive coverage plan.
Another advantage of having a PPO Network is that the providers within the PPO Network tend to bill the insurance company directly, rather than asking the policyholder to pay upfront but this is not always the case. Travelers should confirm billing options with the medical facility. Since limited coverage plans don't have a PPO Network, the providers tend to charge the policyholders, and then the members have to get reimbursed by the insurance company.
In-flight/International travel coverage
Most comprehensive plans have coverage for international travel. So, as long as the policy is active, you can get coverage during your international flight en route to your destination, as well as if you travel to multiple countries outside your home country. In-flight and international travel coverages are very important in uncertain times that we live in. When purchasing travel insurance, you’ll want to have the policy start as soon as you leave your home, so your flights will be covered.
Likewise, emergency medical evacuations are covered by most comprehensive coverage plans. Limited coverage plans don't have international travel coverage.
The Bottom Line on Comprehensive Coverage Plans
Purchasing a comprehensive coverage plan may be a better option unless there's a constraint in paying for a higher premium, or there are age-related restrictions to the policy maximums provided by the insurance plan. Comprehensive coverage plans offer more policy maximum options, pay a lot more for every covered service or treatment, and have more benefits.