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Travel insurance vs your own medical insurance coverage


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New to traveling outside of USA.  I know travel insurance helps with costs of cancellations of plans.  But on the medical side of things doesn't your own medical insurance cover you for healthcare?  I've read some stories of people getting hit with huge bills after becoming ill (heart attack etc) on cruise ships and not having travel insurance.  Just trying to understand how this works.

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Our Medicare Advantage HMO has paid for all medical services on the ship while cruising the Caribbean.  Both on the ship, and in port at the beginning of the cruise, the providers involved all billed our insurance directly.  Had hospitalization been prescribed, that's where the travel insurance is valuable, to fly a patient to a modern hospital. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As others have said, most US health insurance providers do not cover international expenses OR you may run into the issue that wherever you're at just doesn't even accept your insurance. Travel insurance - the type that includes medical - is designed specifically to cover you anywhere in leiu of your home policy.

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Also, if you happen to have "traditional" Medicare, it does not cover any costs incurred outside the USA.  Many Medicare Advantage plans will reimburse costs outside the country as "out of network", but you still have the pitfalls/risks expressed by others above. At best, you would likely have to pay out of pocket (will they accept a credit card???) and then submit bills for reimbursement back home.

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14 hours ago, Galveston Steve said:

At best, you would likely have to pay out of pocket (will they accept a credit card???) and then submit bills for reimbursement back home.

I had inquired of my medical insurance if they cover out of the country. I was told I would have to pay out of pocket and then seek reimbursement (a rate of which sucks)

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  • 5 months later...
4 hours ago, aiyanaquest said:

Travel insurance and my insurance are two different things. With travel insurance, things are very long and complicated. And of course, it's expensive. But in case of unforeseen circumstances abroad, you won't regret spending so much time on travel insurance.

I agree with you.  Travel insurance can be expensive because it is age-adjusted, and seniors like me pay more than young adults, like my son.  The premiums also vary by level of coverage; Royal (AON) keeps rates lower by not offering high medical/evaluation amounts.  Finally, the big driver is the total amount covered.  Generally, I have found my premiums to be about 10% of the value insured (Allianz), and somewhat less with Royal (due to reduced coverage).  

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Perhaps we've just been lucky but I suggest you look at your insurance card and call the international or travel number on the back of the card. We never asked for or requested travel coverage on our employer provided HMO health insurance but found both our Anthem Blue Cross years ago and our current Kaiser plans had it included. The two times we used it we had to pay the international provider then months later got reimbursed (mostly). It ended up costing more than our co-pay at home but they reimbursed me for most of the bill. My parents recently were on a cruise on another line and their medicare advantage Kaiser was accepted by the Ship's doctor.

Another factor to consider is where you are traveling to? Some countries have very inexpensive medical services. My son was in Vietnam, caught dengue fever and spent 5 nights in the hospital, private room, private nurse, in an english speaking "american" hospital. Total bill was 3K. We got all but about $800 back and some of that was because we chose a private room and a private nurse who had only my son as a patient. Those were my decisions and I was completely fine not being reimbursed for that $100 a day fee, otherwise our cost would have been $300, which is 10%. Now if he was in a different country when this happened, we may have to add a zero or two at the end of the numbers I quoted, changing the benefit of the add on travel insurance.

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To me it just makes sense to buy the insurance.  Most cover trip issues as well.  Canceled flights, lost bags. Covid related issues and more.  It's normally just a few hundred bucks. Chalk it up to the expense of a cruise and factor it into your overall costs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is where I disagree but I had a bad experience that may skew my opinion. We had booked premium economy flights to rome, 3 days of an air bnb before and after a 7 day MSC cruise of the med all pre covid for late March 2020. We bought the insurance from MSC and from Luftansa. Flights and cruise were both cancelled, airline gave us credits, cruise and air bnb gave us refunds, but insurance gave us nothing and kept the premiums. Reputable insurance companies as well, their response was the insurance doesn't kick in until trip starts, since it never started, they keep our money since the world fell apart two days before trip started. Insurance wasn't cheap, I'll never buy it again. To me it's personal, I'm well off and  I travel regularly, I'm exactly who they want as a customer and when they got scared they screwed me (luftansa kept my money for my seat upgrades to first class as well) so I have a list and I'm sticking to it. I vote with my wallet, even if I believe in the concept of travel insurance, they lost me forever. MSC was great but I'm loyal to Royal now so unfortunately I won't go on MSC ever just because the company who they aligned their insurance with. Royal has been accommodating during challenges and thus has earned my loyalty. Me and my demographic should go with a premium line next, but other than a river cruise that royal doesn't offer were staying with Royal because of how they acted when the chips were down. It speaks volumes and in the end it's how you treat people, royal has treated us well, despite multiple lifts and shifts and cancellations outside of their control. Now I'm a shareholder and continue to add to my position, I truly believe on this company based on how I'm treated as a customer.

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@egd207 

One thing to think about is Trip insurance vs Travel Insurance. Many times policies will have benefits to cover a little bit of both. But overall Trip insurance covers canceled flights, trips etc. While Travel Insurance covers sickness/illness that may occur while traveling abroad. Many credit cards offers basic trip insurance if you fully book the trip with your CC or book through the CC's travel website. Travel insurance usually is done through a third party and rates will be determined by many different factors such as where you are going, your age, where you currently live, the duration of the travel etc. Travel insurance will cover hospitalizations abroad and may include some trip insurance as well such as get a partial refund if your trip is cut short due to illness or if you are not able to go due to an illness. One thing that has saved myself some money is I look into my own employer's benefits as some employers offer travel insurance for the employee and their direct family members (eg spouse and children). I was recently pleasantly surprised that the company I work for offers a basic travel insurance at no additional cost for myself and my family even though it was a non-business trip.  Another way to save some money is to work with your travel agent as you do not necessarily have to always go with the company that RCCL works with. 

A final tip I would leave with anyone purchasing any insurance is to read the fine print (even though it is super annoying). Just as your cruise ticket has fine print so does your travel/trip insurance make sure at the very least you know what is and is not covered as well as any exceptions. I recently read in the travel insurance agreement that is provided by my employer that injuries due to war or weather are not covered, meaning that if I was on vacation and a war broke out and I was injured or harmed due to that I would not be covered. 

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