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Should You Get Travel Insurance for Your Medical Treatment Abroad?
Posted by skymedicus STAFF on 7/26/2017 2:22 PM | Last Modified: August 2, 2017
While the insurance industry isn’t typically characterized as innovative – actually, it can sometimes be one of the last places where change takes root – the perhaps surprising fact is that a growing number of insurance companies are recognizing that medical treatment abroad (a.k.a. medical tourism) isn’t a threat to their operations: it’s an ally.
Indeed, as reported by NBC News, “Once considered a fringe option reserved for the most desperate patients, medical tourism is gaining mainstream acceptance, transforming into a billion-dollar industry attracting both patients and healthcare providers alike…US companies, such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and United Group Programs, are now exploring the idea of including medical tourism as a part of their coverage.”
The notion that insurance companies are (finally) seeing medical tourism as a legitimate healthcare option is good news. However, individuals heading abroad still need to keep in mind that regardless of whether insurance covers or doesn’t cover their treatment, they still need supplemental travel insurance.
Why is Supplemental Travel Insurance Essential for Medical Treatment Abroad?
Why should supplemental travel insurance be the first thing that medical tourists pack when they book their treatment, procedure, test or scan?
The answer is simple: standard travel insurance does not cover losses incurred on a trip whose primary or sole purpose is for medical treatment. This includes losses for things that have nothing to do with treatment itself, such as having a purse stolen or banging a knee against a door (i.e. something that could happen anywhere, including at home).
And of course, anything that arises from the surgery or treatment itself – such as the need to spend a few extra days in recovery – won’t be covered, either. And even though medical costs abroad are a fraction of what they are in the U.S., it’s still money that patients have to pay out-of-pocket.
What’s more, some issuers will cancel a standard travel insurance policy if they discover that the policyholder’s primary or sole purpose for heading abroad was to get medical treatment. Once again, these denied claims and cancelled policies may have nothing whatsoever to do with the treatment itself. For example, on their way back home a patient’s flight may be delayed or cancelled, which obliges them to stay an extra day or two in a hotel. Even though these costs don’t arise from treatment complications or extra healthcare needs, they won’t be covered – and the policy itself may be (and likely will be) nullified. No, this isn’t fair. But yes, it does happen, and there’s nothing that policyholders can do.
At SkyMedicus, one of the solutions we provide our medical tourism clients is to help them choose and purchase affordable, comprehensive supplemental travel insurance that gives them the “peace of mind” protection they need while abroad. To learn more, contact us today and take advantage of your free consultation.
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