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krysti0423

Is Travel Insurance necessary??

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So how does it work if you have to cancel for medical reasons? Do you call and cancel or just don't show up? Then I suspect you need something written from a doctor as to why? Right?

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My husband and I had a big argument over insurance for our first cruise. I didn't want to spend the extra money. Luckily, he won that battle. Three days before leaving, he didn't pass his stress test and ended up having a procedure in the hospital. We did get to go on the trip, but have always purchased the trip insurance after that.

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So how does it work if you have to cancel for medical reasons? Do you call and cancel or just don't show up? Then I suspect you need something written from a doctor as to why? Right?

 

Most plans require that you cancel the trip with the travel supplier. If you break your leg the day you're supposed to board the ship they would take into account that you were otherwise occupied and couldn't make the call. But always officially cancel the trip if at all possible.

 

The insurance company will send/email a form to you for the doctor to fill out.

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i wont travel without it...its NECESSARY for us...for some its not...its your choice, but before i would choose NOT to get insurance i sure would read all the reasons WHY!!!!

 

i am SUPRISED and really SHOCKED at ones that dont get insurance, specially elderly or ones that have pre-existing condtions or situations where you SHOULD but they DONT--guess they can "afford" to loose the money they put out for their vacation!!!

 

i just factor the Insurance as part of my trip expense and dont think about the cost of it really.

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Dear friends:

 

Greetings from Spain.

 

I am a little shocked to hear that most U.S. medical insurance does not cover the insured outside of the United States. It is U.S. coverage that actually makes a medical insurance policy expensive, so I am surprised that U.S. insurers aren't happy to cover you outside of the United States versus inside of the United States.

 

The international medical policies we purchase in Europe (and I am referring to general health insurance, not travel insurance at this point) offer three possibilities of coverage:

 

Country specific;

Worldwide EXCLUDING United States

Worldwide INCLUDING United States

 

It costs about 50% to 60% more to purchase coverage Worldwide INCLUDING United States as opposed to EXCLUDING United States.

 

For those of you whose insurance does cover at least emergency treatment outside of the United States, make sure your insurance company uses an international emergency assistance company, or offers a payment guarantee service for hospitals outside of the United States. That way, you are not stuck footing the bill for a hospital stay and then submitting the bill the your insurance company. Only for this, it might be wise to purchase an additional travel insurance policy in the United States.

 

We have a friend in New York who wanted to be treated for an illness at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, instead of a New York hospital. While his U.S. insurance policy technically did not cover international treatment, the insurance company approved his case under the premise that getting treatment in France was going to cost half of what it was going to cost the insurance company in New York. So I am indeed surprised that U.S. medical insurance does not provide at least emergency coverage outside of the United States.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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So I am indeed surprised that U.S. medical insurance does not provide at least emergency coverage outside of the United States.

 

Some companies do. Our medical insurance, through an employer, even has an out-of-country claim form you can print out before your travels. They also provide a list of service providers by country, which I always print out before I go, with country specific phone numbers.

 

Just depends on your insurance policy. We still purchase travel insurance!

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Some companies do. Our medical insurance, through an employer, even has an out-of-country claim form you can print out before your travels. They also provide a list of service providers by country, which I always print out before I go, with country specific phone numbers.

 

Just depends on your insurance policy. We still purchase travel insurance!

 

Mine does also. It would be treated the same as any emergency out-of-network treatment. I know that MediCare won't but I'd be willing to bet that many travelers would find out that theirs does also if they would bother to ask the right questions. Would their insurance be accepted up front by a clinic in Mongolia? Probably not. But that does not mean that emergency treatment received abroad would not be reimbursed. I've been covered by several HMO/PPO plans over the years and they have all covered treatment obtained outside the country -- Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kaiser, and others (currently Anthem Blue Cross).

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I'd be willing to bet that many travelers would find out that theirs does also if they would bother to ask the right questions. ).

 

Maybe that right there is the key.

If you could,, share with us what examples of the right questions should be please. Also, are there certain key words we should be using when asking these questions?

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Maybe that right there is the key.

If you could,, share with us what examples of the right questions should be please. Also, are there certain key words we should be using when asking these questions?

 

Here's what I did when we switched providers a year ago (Anthem Blue Cross HMO):

 

Check the coverage handbook for "out of network" care:

 

For example, Out of Network Out-patient Care and/or Hospitalization Services. "No benefits except for Medical Emergency services," That makes sense since I don't expect them to pay for any ongoing treatments I currently receive.

 

Then I search through the booklet to find up their definition of "Medical Emergency services". It's about what you'd expect -- three paragraphs to say if it's an immediate threat to my health or of causing other serious bodily consequences it's an emergency.

 

So then I wrote an email asking something like the following hypothetical:

 

" I'll be vacationing in Mexico next month. If I break my leg or have some other medical emergency requiring immediate care would the cost be reimbursed the same as any other covered out of network services according to my coverage booklet as shown below:

 

(here I would quote the above info verbatim from the booklet)

 

If so, would my co-payment and /or deductible be the same as any other out-of-network care received in the US? In the event of a medical emergency, what phone number should I give the attending doctor in case he/she needs access to my medical history?"

 

I think what most people don't differentiate is between emergency care and normal medical care including prescriptions, regular check-ups, etc. If I had sent an email to Anthem just asking "does my health care plan cover me in Mexico" I may very well have gotten an answer of "no" and that would have been an accurate answer. By limiting the question to emergencies only and stating upfront that I know I'll probably have to pay the bill and get reimbursed I get the answer I need. If they still had said "no" I wouldn't be thrilled but at least I'd know where I stood.

 

By the way, I also found out that reimbursement would be limited to the rate Anthem negotiated with the local HMO I'm using. So if the doctor in Mexico charged me more than what Anthem would have paid the HMO I would have to eat the difference. In all honesty, I don't care about that since I would submit the shortage to my travel insurer.. But it's good to know, I guess.

Edited by cruiseco

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Dear friends:

 

Your healthplans in the United States cost about 70% more than our private healthplans that would include worldwide elective treatment, including the U.S.A. Our plans can be purchased very inexpensively and basically include the kitchen sink. I guess that's because here in Europe private health insurance has to compete with the free Social Security system in each country and if it weren't competitive, the insurers would never sell a single policy.

 

I think that the U.S. insurers are taking you for a ride. All of this stuff about deductible, in network, out-of-network, emergency, non-emergency.

 

For the 70% more it costs you folks to purchase private health insurance, and given the huge pool of insureds and potential insureds existing in the United States simply due to the size of your country, any U.S. insurer should have plenty of margin to include worldwide care in their policies, at least in my opinion.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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Dear friends:

 

Your healthplans in the United States cost about 70% more than our private healthplans that would include worldwide elective treatment, including the U.S.A. Our plans can be purchased very inexpensively and basically include the kitchen sink. I guess that's because here in Europe private health insurance has to compete with the free Social Security system in each country and if it weren't competitive, the insurers would never sell a single policy.

 

I think that the U.S. insurers are taking you for a ride. All of this stuff about deductible, in network, out-of-network, emergency, non-emergency.

 

For the 70% more it costs you folks to purchase private health insurance, and given the huge pool of insureds and potential insureds existing in the United States simply due to the size of your country, any U.S. insurer should have plenty of margin to include worldwide care in their policies, at least in my opinion.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

 

You're not wrong, however, I think the big difference in cost involves politics and choices.

Here in the US, everyone WANTS national healthcare like most European countries, but they don't want to pay for it through higher taxes. In the US, healthcare for the most part is a choice not a right.

On the other hand, those who have no insurance and require life saving services CANNOT be denied healthcare no matter what their current citizenship is. Therefore, my healthcare insurance skyrockets to provide coverage for those who don't pay.

 

Just completed my tax return. $100K total income. Paid 7% in federal taxes after all deductions.

Edited by klfrodo

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Here in Spain everybody has the right to universal health care without regard to nationality or immigration status. This even goes beyond emergency care. Anybody who lives here legally or illegally is entitled to sign up for the full Social Security system and is given an ID card and all! Anyway, in general, our taxes here in Europe are higher than in the United States, I think.

 

I'm just saying that your U.S. healthcare policies are overly restrictive and overly expensive.

 

Anyway, we're not here to change the world, but to enjoy cruises.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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Here's what I did when we switched providers a year ago (Anthem Blue Cross HMO):

 

Check the coverage handbook for "out of network" care:

 

For example, Out of Network Out-patient Care and/or Hospitalization Services. "No benefits except for Medical Emergency services," That makes sense since I don't expect them to pay for any ongoing treatments I currently receive.

 

Then I search through the booklet to find up their definition of "Medical Emergency services". It's about what you'd expect -- three paragraphs to say if it's an immediate threat to my health or of causing other serious bodily consequences it's an emergency.

 

So then I wrote an email asking something like the following hypothetical:

 

" I'll be vacationing in Mexico next month. If I break my leg or have some other medical emergency requiring immediate care would the cost be reimbursed the same as any other covered out of network services according to my coverage booklet as shown below:

 

(here I would quote the above info verbatim from the booklet)

 

If so, would my co-payment and /or deductible be the same as any other out-of-network care received in the US? In the event of a medical emergency, what phone number should I give the attending doctor in case he/she needs access to my medical history?"

 

I think what most people don't differentiate is between emergency care and normal medical care including prescriptions, regular check-ups, etc. If I had sent an email to Anthem just asking "does my health care plan cover me in Mexico" I may very well have gotten an answer of "no" and that would have been an accurate answer. By limiting the question to emergencies only and stating upfront that I know I'll probably have to pay the bill and get reimbursed I get the answer I need. If they still had said "no" I wouldn't be thrilled but at least I'd know where I stood.

 

By the way, I also found out that reimbursement would be limited to the rate Anthem negotiated with the local HMO I'm using. So if the doctor in Mexico charged me more than what Anthem would have paid the HMO I would have to eat the difference. In all honesty, I don't care about that since I would submit the shortage to my travel insurer.. But it's good to know, I guess.

 

Cruiseco,

 

I have e-mailed my healthcare plan United Healthcare and asked them specifically about coverage for "Emergency Medical Service" when outside of the continental US. I then explained further with examples of broken leg while vacationing in Mexico and/or heart attack while on a cruiseship causing me to be medivac to a hospital on a Caribbean island.

 

I'll share what they have to say.

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Just returned from cruise. Bought travel insurance as usual(Travel Insured). When we reached the terminal(FLL) at the end of the cruise, my big bag, very well marked--red tape, ribbons, fluorescent name tags, was gone. The security belt had been taken off and left on the floor by our other bags. Cruise line assured me the bag was taken in error and surely would turn up. Three days later, no bag. The $1500 coverage wouldn't have covered what was lost--which was just clothes. (It's amazing how much stuff adds up--nothing over $150!) Celebrity Cruises finally located woman passenger who had taken my bag and left hers. She acknowledged she had the bag but had made no effort to contact me either at my home or by my cell phone which was on the outside of the bag and the inside of the bag. She did not contact Celebrity--they tracked her down as they had two bags left at port. Then she took another 24 hours to return it to Celebrity. She lives in Miami. Bag was well marked and weighed about 70 pounds. Hers weighed about 30 pounds. Just an example of why you should invest in travel insurance--there are fellow travelers out there who are less than honorable. A pox on her house--that woman simply stole my bag and then got caught. I am awaiting delivery of bag to my home to see what, if anything, is missing. Travel insurance will help replace any items that might have been taken.

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We always buy travel insurance when we cruise and have never had to use it until last month. We were on the Majesty of the Seas in March and someone had a medical emergency onboard the last night of the cruise and the ship had to turn around after sailing almost 2 hours and go back to Nassau so the person could get medical attention. That put us 2 1/2 hours late arriving in Miami in the morning. They made an announcement at 10:45pm that we would be arriving late and people may have to make alternate travel arrangements. We had a 10:30am flight and we missed it. We booked 2 one way tickets home for $800+ (our original tickets cost us $99pp). The airlines were not willing to waive the change fee and most of the flights were booked solid. We put the tickets on our credit card and called Travel Guard when we got to the airport (because we had several hours to kill). We were reimbursed the price of the replacement airline tickets. If we did not purchase trip insurance we would have had to eat the cost. The insurance only cost us $39pp for our 3 night cruise and it was definitely worth it.

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Cruiseco,

 

I have e-mailed my healthcare plan United Healthcare and asked them specifically about coverage for "Emergency Medical Service" when outside of the continental US. I then explained further with examples of broken leg while vacationing in Mexico and/or heart attack while on a cruiseship causing me to be medivac to a hospital on a Caribbean island.

 

I'll share what they have to say.

 

Cruiseco,

 

Received my response from United Healthcare. Haven't got a clue what they said. Even tried using keywords to search the handbook with zero hits on the search.

Anyway, here's the response:

 

We received your message about your coverage for when you are out of the country. This is what your policy states:

 

Foreign-International Claims

 

Customer allows for payment of medical expenses incurred outside of the United States.

 

Refer to the specific Covered Health Service section.

 

 

Network Coverage

Your coverage when you use a network doctor, hospital or facility is - 100% of eligible expenses.

 

Payment decisions are based on your plan document. They are also based on the patient’s coverage when the service was received and billed by the doctor or facility.

 

Do you find yourself still trying to make sense of how healthcare can work for you? Visit the Benefits & Coverage section for specific details about your plan, or take a stroll down Health Care Lane and find out how you can get the most out of your benefits.

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Brenda G., UnitedHealthcare

Edited by klfrodo

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We received your message about your coverage for when you are out of the country. This is what your policy states:

 

Foreign-International Claims

 

Customer allows for payment of medical expenses incurred outside of the United States.

 

 

Is this a plan through your employer? If so, the way I read this is that at the time the coverage options were being negotiated your employer (the customer) chose to include the international coverage option. Of course, I could be 100% wrong on this so maybe a call to Brenda would be in order.

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So we just booked our first cruise last week and we were debating on the insurance. Then I remembered a notice I had received from our credit card company about travel coverage. So we called the card company and they patched us through to the travel insurance department. Turns out as long as we put the entire vacation on that card (doesn't have to be all in one payment) we are covered for delay and cancelation of the trip due to illness, death in the family, flight issues by the carrier, issues with the cruise line, weather (the lady rattled on for like 15 minutes with all the things they covered). One stipulation was that if there was an instance of delay or cancel, we only have 30 days to notify them of the claim; seems reasonable enough. I think there are a lot of cards out there that offer this protection but consumers are not completely aware of their benefits. So you may want to check before you spend $ on something you may already have.

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I bought insurance through insuremytrip.com. Main reason was to pay evacuation off ship charges and trip cancelation. I bought a plan for four people 160.00, for 9 days. The policy i selected pays for economy ticket home for others in our party should it be needed.

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Is this a plan through your employer? If so, the way I read this is that at the time the coverage options were being negotiated your employer (the customer) chose to include the international coverage option. Of course, I could be 100% wrong on this so maybe a call to Brenda would be in order.

 

I dug more and more into it. We no longer receive printed benefits handbooks. We have to search the UHC website. After not finding a darn thing on the website, I finally called customer service.

It seems Foreign International Claims is not on the website. I have to ask for one of these handbooks from HR.

 

Don't have it yet, but here's what I was told by customer service.

 

Am I covered if I break my leg in Mexico for example?

Yes, you would be covered for emergency medical services. NOTE: Yes, I would have to pay upfront and then file for reimbursement. (I already knew this, but customer service wanted to be sure that this info was clear)

 

OK, What if I have a heart attack and need to be air evacuated from the ship? Yes, air ambulance and air evacuation is covered.

 

Last question, let's say I require emergency life saving treatment but the foreign hospital requires proof of ability to pay before treatment. Will UHC provide a letter of ability to pay or wire money to allow me to seek treatment?

An emphatic NO was the response.

 

Anyway Cruiseco, thanks for all the info and help you provide regarding this subject.

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I dug more and more into it. We no longer receive printed benefits handbooks. We have to search the UHC website. After not finding a darn thing on the website, I finally called customer service.

It seems Foreign International Claims is not on the website. I have to ask for one of these handbooks from HR.

 

Don't have it yet, but here's what I was told by customer service.

 

Am I covered if I break my leg in Mexico for example?

Yes, you would be covered for emergency medical services. NOTE: Yes, I would have to pay upfront and then file for reimbursement. (I already knew this, but customer service wanted to be sure that this info was clear)

 

OK, What if I have a heart attack and need to be air evacuated from the ship? Yes, air ambulance and air evacuation is covered.

 

Last question, let's say I require emergency life saving treatment but the foreign hospital requires proof of ability to pay before treatment. Will UHC provide a letter of ability to pay or wire money to allow me to seek treatment?

An emphatic NO was the response.

 

Anyway Cruiseco, thanks for all the info and help you provide regarding this subject.

 

They sure don't make it easy, which is probably why many US travelers just assume their coverage doesn't apply when out of the country. I think many would be surprised that it actually does.

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Just got off of a 3 way phone call with UHC and my employee benefits folks.

 

Bottom line is that there is no special handbook. My medical benefits are for worldwide. I have the same "Out of Network" coverage in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world, as I have in the States.

 

So I started bring up examples:

1) Medical evacuation off the ship? Yes, out of network ambulance or air ambulance to the nearest licensed medical facility

 

2) After life saving measures are taken, am I covered for air ambulance back to the hospital of my choice for continued care? (example; I'm stable but in a coma) NO

 

3) What about repatriation of my remains if I die outside of the country?

Not under UHC medical coverage. Maybe some other type of benefit, but not medical.

 

So, basically,,,,, Yes, I do have limited medical coverage outside of the US.

 

However, it does not replace the benefits provided by have supplimental travel insurance.

 

Thanks for all your help Cruiseco.

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klfrodo,

 

I also have UHC. Although UHC can vary from company to company, it sounds like my coverage is similar to what you have.

 

But I don't perceive that as having "limited" medical coverage outside the USA. I see it as having exactly the same coverage as in America, with no limitations. For example, I'm covered for air evacuation, whether I'm on a cruiseship, or the bottom of the Grand Canyon. When I'm in America, I wouldn't be covered for transportation for continued care to the hospital of "my choice". If I should die at Disneyworld in Florida, I wouldn't be covered by medical to have my remains flown back to California.

 

Now some people may see a need to buy "additional" insurance when out of the country, and that is an individual decision. But personally, I don't see that I have a much greater risk when out of the country, because I'm maintaining my same level of coverage.

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klfrodo,

 

I also have UHC. Although UHC can vary from company to company, it sounds like my coverage is similar to what you have.

 

But I don't perceive that as having "limited" medical coverage outside the USA. I see it as having exactly the same coverage as in America, with no limitations. For example, I'm covered for air evacuation, whether I'm on a cruiseship, or the bottom of the Grand Canyon. When I'm in America, I wouldn't be covered for transportation for continued care to the hospital of "my choice". If I should die at Disneyworld in Florida, I wouldn't be covered by medical to have my remains flown back to California.

 

Now some people may see a need to buy "additional" insurance when out of the country, and that is an individual decision. But personally, I don't see that I have a much greater risk when out of the country, because I'm maintaining my same level of coverage.

 

All valid points.

Maybe "limited" wasn't a good choice of words.

 

If I died in Florida, there are a lot of different options to get my body back home. Along with that, Customs, Immigrations, and any other diplomatic paperwork would not be required.

If I were just injured, there are still more options to get back home. Can't take the train or rent a car from Aruba.

 

I'm not concerned about receiving medical care here in the States. I know beyond a reasonable doubt what my options are and that there are support mechanisms out there for me.

If I'm in Australia, I have no idea what the heck is going to happen.

With supplimental travel insurance, you're only a phone call away from guidance and assistance. With UHC? I know that I'm out of network, and that's it.

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