What is the best Travel Medical Insurance?
This question is one of the most common questions being asked in Facebook groups.
Every year, thousands of parents from India visit USA for spending time with their children. Most of them have some chronic medical conditions.
Due to change in weather, and also the stress of the travel, it is better to have a good medical insurance for peace of mind.
Medical costs in USA are very high especially the in-patient hospital costs. Without insurance to cover these exorbitantly high costs, an illness can cause huge financial burden for anyone.
Taking insurance for covering unfortunate medical illness takes a few minutes online these days. No medical exam or tests are needed and paper work is very minimal.
After reading hundreds of Facebook posts in groups, the following are the important points.
Cost of insurance varies with age and deductible you choose, length of stay in USA, maximum benefit you choose etc. The higher the age, length of stay in USA and the higher the maximum benefit, the higher the cost. The higher the deductible you choose, the lower the premium you have to pay for insurance.
Always, try to buy a “comprehensive travel medical insurance plan” which covers “acute onset” of pre-existing conditions and do not buy a limited or Fixed insurance plan which covers very limited issues. Ask if they cover pre-existing conditions or not. Most do not. But, most cover Acute Onset of pre-existing conditions.
If you want travel insurance along with medical insurance, ask if they cover travel insurance like missing a flight, flight delay, loss of luggage, damage to luggage, passport loss etc.
If you are buying insurance in India, talk to an agent if possible, as the prices through agents can sometimes be better than those online. However, most recommend not buying insurance from India as the claim process can be extremely difficult and you may have to pay the hospital here from your pocket first not knowing if your insurance in India will pay for it or not later.
Read this to compare insurance from USA vs India.
The cost of insurance is much less if you buy from India rather than from USA.
Make sure the you file a claim as soon as possible usually within 60 days. If you delay it too much, claim may be denied stating that you did not submit in a specified amount of time as per your plan.
Some recommend buying good coverage like $250,000 instead of the basic $50,000.
Some of the problems like Heart attack, Cancer, Diabetes, Kidney stones etc may not be covered even though they were not diagnosed before. Insurance company says that they were not diagnosed but they existed previously.
Some recommend insurance from India if the visitor is otherwise healthy and does not have any medical problems and physically active as it can be cheap. Tata AIG, Apollo Munich, ICICI Lombard and Religare are some examples.
Most people give the names of the insurance companies or websites that they bought plans from even though they have no experience of any claims. So, that info is not very helpful as the true utility of any insurance lies in its claim process and payments.
In general, Indian insurances are not accepted here and so you have to pay out of pocket and file a claim later. If you buy insurance from USA, you will have cashless coverage but still you have to pay deductible. Ask them how the claim process is when you buy.
Each insurance has its own terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions of their policies. Please take time and read thoroughly and ask questions to the agent at the time of buying it.
Check with your local hospital if they have any insurance plans for visitors from other countries. They may have good but cheaper plans if you use only their network.
Some popular insurance companies are: Insubuy.com, visitorinsurance.com etc. You can compare the quotes from multiple companies and purchase online in these websites.
Read this if you want to know some good insurances.
It does not matter how much you paid for buying the plan when it comes to claims processing. You should be able to prove that the medical condition should be covered based on your agreement when you bought the plan.
Ask their ‘Network of health care providers’ around the place the visitor will be staying at in USA. Are there any in-network health care centers around that area?
If there is a major stroke, patient may need rehab placement in a facility for a few weeks. Ask the agent if rehab is covered or not by the insurance plan you are buying. I know a visiting parent who had a massive stroke who had to stay in the hospital for a month since rehab was not covered per visitor insurance. He could neither go to his son’s home nor to rehab. Finally, he was taken to India directly on a plane with a ‘flight nurse’ costing thousands of dollars. So, it will help to have rehab covered but it may cost a lot.
Some doctors or hospitals may not take the insurance you bought even though the visitor had an emergency as the hospital may feel that it’s a hassle to work with the plan you bought for getting paid. Just file a claim with insurance but you may have to pay from pocket first.
Some of the insurance plans that people mentioned that they had claims processing without much hassle are Safe Travels USA Comprehensive, Atlas America, TATA AIG, Patriot America plus comprehensive plan, Lloyds of London, Cover America Gold etc. You can buy from insubuy.com or visitorinsurance.com or visitorscoverage.com or sevencorners.com or Transnationalcare.com or any other similar website.
If visitor unfortunately needs hospital admission, call insurance immediately as soon as you know that visitor needs admission and get ‘precertification’ as it makes everything easier later on while filing the claim.
After reading all these, the best option is to be aware of some of the ways to avoid requiring emergency care as much as possible.
To avoid having to go through medical emergencies in the US while visiting, a few precautions can be taken prior to visiting to minimize an emergencies.
- Get a complete medical examination in home country.
- Get enough medications to last for a few days after the planned trip.
- Talk to your primary care doctor in home country about the plan to visit USA and ask what precautions to be taken.
- Get blood sugar monitoring kit if one is diabetic.
- The children of these visitors should make sure the parents are not put into stressful situations when they come to USA.
- Check blood pressure regularly if they are hypertensive and taking medications as high blood pressures can cause stroke.
- Do not go out to visit places if the weather is not very favorable as extremely cold weather can cause health issues.
- Do not change the food habits drastically if the visitors have medical issues especially if they have diabetes or heart failure. Food with high salt content can cause problems in heart failure patients.
- Do not take own decisions to change medications dosing or frequency. Always work under a doctor’s recommendations.
- Make sure the visitors especially elderly with pre-existing conditions do not overconsume alcohol especially during partying.
- Make sure they take pills during the journey as prescribed by their doctor. Due to time difference, let them ask their own doctor in home country as to how to adjust the medication timings while in USA.
- Do not force them to drink a lot of water if they have heart failure. Let them live the way they live in home country.
- Do not give sweets or soda to people with diabetes. Keep eating habits close to their own home choices.
- Do not plan too many trips to visit relatives or places in a short time frame. Give them time to adjust after each trip.
- If someone is sick with coughing, keep visitors away from them to avoid them from getting sick.
I hope this post saves some of your valuable time and help guide you to the best visitor Medical Insurance. Will update this post when someone shares a feedback about any insurance so that it can save a lot of your time and help in taking the correct decision for your loved one.
Say “Namaste” to your parents from Desi Use.com
Good luck with everything.