In Part One of this report on International Health Insurance options, we explored local vs. worldwide coverage. Today we'll examine three additional options for coverage of medical treatment: Medevac Services, Catastrophic Coverage and Medical Tourism.
Medevac Services – Take Me Home!
If you live or spend a lot of time outside of your home country, but still need or want access to medical services back home, Medevac (Medical Evacuation) coverage may be what you need. Government funded medical plans such as Medicare or Medicaid in the US, Canadian Health Care, Britain's NHS, and Europe's EHIC, are generally restricted to use at home, with very specific exceptions. If you have a chronic health problem requiring hospitalization, or an urgent medical crisis, you need to know you can get back to your home country immediately, with no hassle. Medevac insurance provides this assurance, so that with one phone call, all necessary arrangements are made for door-to-door service, including whatever medical care and personnel may be required in transit.
The good news is that Medevac coverage costs much less than health insurance. Here are a few companies that offer Medevac services worldwide, and their fees for individual coverage for one year: Travel Assist Network, $525; Medjet Assist, $665; and Global Rescue, $639. Some full coverage health insurance companies include Medevac services, so be sure to read the fine print before you buy a separate policy.
Catastrophic Coverage – A Higher Deductible = A Lower Premium
The intent behind Catastrophic Coverage is to provide coverage for emergencies or accidents, and to protect against resulting unexpected large medical bills. The coverage may be the same as standard Major Medical policies, but the premium is lower because the deductible is higher. If you are a healthy person who does not require frequent doctor visits, labs, tests, or procedures, why pay thousands of dollars in premiums? Instead, you can keep that cash in your own hands, and use it to pay the higher deductible if the need arises.
You may not find much online if you search for “catastrophic coverage,” so the way to get quotes is to choose a Major Medical provider, and, in the options, select the highest deductible offered with which you are comfortable. Here is a sampling of international health insurance providers, and their quotes for one year for a 58 year old female, excluding coverage in the US and Canada:
As we've seen previously in Part One, including coverage in the US and Canada significantly increases the premium, so don't pay for it if you don't need it.
Medical Tourism – Pamper Yourself
Traveling to a foreign country for a surgical procedure may have seemed like lunacy in years past, but nowadays it is a common practice. In this age of the shrinking globe and shrinking currencies, medical tourism has expanded exponentially. Whether you need a hip replacement or want a cuter nose, you can combine the medical procedure with a vacation to a destination you've always wanted to visit. With proper research, the total cost of the trip and medical care can be comparable to, or even less than, what you might pay at home for the surgery alone. What's not to like about that?
If you are considering medical tourism, there is no shortage of help available online. Here are a few sites that have worldwide listings, sorted by country, procedure, or services: Online Medical Tourism; All Medical Tourism; and Health Traveler. There is even an international, non-profit trade association for this burgeoning industry, the Medical Tourism Association.
Once you've decided where you want to go for your new hip or nose, you'll find country-specific sites of providers, ready and waiting to fulfill your every need! As a sampling, you might consider Guatemala (because it's one of my favorite places, and I know the owner of this business personally – Guatemala Medical Travel), Ecuador (because it's a popular destination among IM readers – Med Travel Ecuador), and Thailand (because it has a well-established and professional tourism industry – Thailand Med Tourism).
One Other Option
If you are a diver or any type of water sports enthusiast, even a cruising sailor, Divers Alert Network is worth investigating. They started out many years ago as a support service for scuba divers around the world, and have grown over the years, both in the services they provide to subscribers, and the support they offer for diving related activities. Their annual subscription fee of $35 entitles a member to a wide range of dive related programs, including medical insurance.
With ObamaCare looming, it's good to know there are choices one can make regarding their health insurance coverage. It's worth the investment of your time and effort to customize a plan that works best for you.
[PLEASE NOTE: The publishing of this article does not imply an endorsement of the services being offered. As always, please conduct your own due diligence before engaging in any business.]
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