The last thing any of us want to think about when traveling abroad is getting sick. Health care emergencies, however, can happen at any time. An important step toward ensuring a safe vacation is to plan ahead on how you will handle a health crisis before you leave home.  


What is your current health insurance plan? Does your health plan cover doctor and hospital visits in other locations or only in your local community? If you are a senior, is your Medicare plan effective overseas? These are just a few of the questions that should be researched prior to going on vacation or leaving the country. Let us share a few more tips you need on health care coverage when traveling.


1. Overseas travel is typically not covered by Medicare.  


Unfortunately, Medicare generally does not cover health care when you travel abroad. If you are traveling to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands or American Samoa, however, Medicare will cover at least a part of your care as you are technically within the United States.  Before traveling overseas, however, seniors should meet with a knowledgeable insurance agent to determine the travel insurance policy that can provide them the best health care coverage based on their destination.


2. Learn the crucial coverage details about your policy.


If you do not have Medicare as your primary health insurance, coverage while traveling varies widely from one insurance plan to another. Start by reading your policy to ascertain what is covered and what is not. After you have a basic understanding of the details, contact your insurance provider about what travel and overseas medical services are included in your plan. Additionally, be sure you ask if any specific locations or risk-based activities are excluded from coverage under your policy. While this does not mean you will need to change your travel plans, this information can help you make better plans for any additional health care coverage needs.


3. Be prepared for potentially high costs in an emergency.


If you are caught in a situation where you are in need of emergency transportation, be prepared that almost all health care policies will not cover this service. There are comprehensive travel insurance policies, however, that will cover this exact circumstance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention share that there are policies that specifically cover emergencies and evacuations back to the United States such as Medical Evacuation Insurance.


4. Make sure your family knows where you are going.


A crisis can occur at any time. It will be easier on your friends and family if they have a detailed itinerary of your travel plans, including dates, times and travel companions. Maintaining a line of communication whether through phone, text or email is always best practice as well. Be sure to ask your estate planning attorney what documents he or she thinks you should travel with and if you should provide copies of your planning to your decision makers before you leave.


We know how much fun traveling can be and we do not want you to miss out on any opportunities. By simply following these quick tips you can ensure that your upcoming travel will be protected against an unexpected health care crisis. Don’t forget to speak with your insurance company before leaving, purchase any additional coverage as needed and talk to your estate planning attorney about whether or not you should take your health care documents along. Does this article raise more questions for you? We would love to help. Call us at (715) 843-5001 to schedule an appointment with Attorney Alan Hougum.