Health insurance & travel insurance options for your trip

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While health insurance for international trips has surely long been a consideration for some travelers, it may be something that has more recently come to the top of mind for others given the pandemic. Some airlines are even offering COVID insurance of some sort with purchased tickets. While we’ve often written about credit card travel insurance (and in fact have a resource guide for that), Doctor of Credit features a guest post this week with some more discussion about further insurance options to consider.

I’ve often heard it posited that the purpose of insurance is to cover a loss that you can’t afford or that would cause an undue burden. A medical emergency could easily get into that territory, which is a major part of the reason that many of us continue to purchase health insurance despite exorbitant premiums in the US (indeed, the cost of a hospital stay can quickly become even more exorbitant, a fact to which I can attest after two children born in the past 3 years). Frequent international travelers know that a hospital trip in other countries can often be much less expensive (a trip to the emergency room in Cape Town when my wife came down with double ear infections a few years back cost us just over $100, prescription included).

But emergencies can be unpredictable and more costly. A classmate of mine broke his back in a car accident in France as an exchange student after high school and spent months in the hospital there before being able to return to the US. Thus, I read the piece at Doctor of Credit with interest as my medical insurance does not cover me outside of the United States. While we do carry an Amex Platinum card or two in my household (which covers emergency medical evacuation), only a couple of cards cover any sort of emergency medical care in a foreign country (and even then only up to pretty small limits).

The Doctor of Credit post only covers a couple of options for international travel medical insurance, but it nonetheless does the base level research to get you going on this if you are interested in learning more. Again, I imagine this is a topic of discussion that will be more prevalent in traveler households in the next couple of years given what we’ve seen in 2020, so it’s worth taking a look at the post as a jumping off point to do more research.

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Ed k

Even though we travel 100% on rewards (hotel, air and even meals and excursions) we always get travel insurance for the unknown, the health factor and emergency vac. And, I don’t rely on the scaled down versions that credit cards offer. It has paid off. From the simple trip delays, which can extend your vacation staying at a nice resort (better than the hotels an airline might put you in at the airport) to health needs it is reasonable compared to being without. This is an informative article. And, if your using your cashback earning card to get enough to rent a villa, insurance is a must. Some villa owners offer their own affiliated insurance, but I always end up just buying the one I’m used to and the one I’ve never had problems with even if a little more due to quality. Some older travelers don’t realize that Medicare doesn’t work in many other countries or the available doc (even some in the USVI) don’t accept anything but cash. Trip insurance reimburses you on your claim as long as you follow their protocols. I’m not of that age yet, but always recommend to those I plan trips for to get good trip insurance. Too many think they can just rely on a certain credit cards, but for reward travelers it can be problematic in a number of ways and not really help. It’s a shame that US medical costs are so far beyond and that is because of the profit making side of it… your insurance company you pay monthly for (or your employer offered insurance. Lobbyists have done their job in getting law makers in their back pocket. Sure, R &D costs pharma a lot (due a lot in part because of government), but other nations have R & D too and yet rx is so much cheaper. And to put salt on the wound, some US pharma companies charge much more for their product in the US and give deals to other countries (the US basically pays for that rx going to another country. It’s a messed up system. And, the big reason the US has “more cases” of COVID has a lot to do with the fact we’ve been able to confirm through testing someone has it. If all countries had as much access to proper testing and really put their true numbers out then the industrial nations would look more like the US. I was in Italy before COVID hit and they were battling Rotavirus, yet they didn’t spread that news (they didn’t want their tourism to suffer). The media in the US has pushed the COVID stories more than any nation. I’m not saying it isn’t real or serious, just pointing out the differences between the US culture and other nations. Some nations, especially the more isolated ones, have largely been spared.

Ed k

Just to add to my above comment on media, I work in the media as my full time job (35 years), so I’m talking about myself and those like me, and not for a conservative leaning company. I have to promote what I’m contracted to do for my job, so just telling it the way it is on this blog without political bias. I’m independent if anyone wonders.

Ed k

And, the CDC didn’t have any warnings about Italy’s rotavirus problem before we traveled there. I always check the CDC’s website before traveling. That particular rotavirus didn’t just effect young children like some rotaviruses, but seemed to spread to every age. It was a strange strain that they hadn’t encountered and was made worse in the crowded tourist spots. They had used a live vaccine only on small children, but ignored the elderly who hold them, so it spread to them and then to even the 20, 30, 40 year olds that were in perfect health. Some blamed the areas which had recently allowed Airbnb rentals in homes which shared kitchens and bathrooms. Those areas were then too crowded and should have limited tourists to day trippers and people staying at hotels and established inns. It simply brought too many people from many places and that caused the massive spread of the rotavirus. Then, they got hit with COVID. Has been a tough time for countries like that. Now, some areas of Italy are limiting visitors, besides US. Seems hardly any country wants American tourists right now. Hopefully the vaccines will change that in the next few years. We need passenger flights in order for the vaccines to be transported worldwide. It’s not cargo planes which are the main way air cargo gets transported, but passenger planes. It would take about 8000 jumbo planes to transport enough vaccines and that won’t happen without tourism recovering. Smart governments are buying up flight tickets in order to keep their airlines from going bust and then they’ll resell them later to tourists, which will mean governments get their money back and possibly a bit of profit (airlines selling discounted tickets in bulk and governments passing along some of that discount to future passengers which is a win-win). We’ll see if the future congress is smart enough. Tourism is a huge lifeline to so many businesses and employees in the US as well as many nations.

MickiSue

Knowing you are covered for care is the first part. But until the vaccines that are being OK’ed have lowered the danger of COVID to an acceptable level, even countries that will allow those of us from the medically benighted US to enter require travelers insurance that covers both care and air evacuation.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll still be virus free and that Antigua will allow people from the US in by the end of next month.

In the meantime, we have medical/medical evacuation insurance that’s cancellable in case of COVID shutdown.