Does U.S. Health Insurance Cover International Travel?

Your flight’s booked, your bags are packed, and your itinerary is planned. But before you take off, have you checked to see if your U.S. health insurance will cover you if you get hurt or face a travel mishap during your trip abroad? How can you find out whether your U.S. health insurance covers international travel, and what should you do if it doesn’t? Travel health insurance could be the solution to fill in the gaps between coverage while you’re overseas.

We know it’s no fun to think about, but you never know what kind of accidents might occur while traveling in a foreign land. That’s why it’s so important that you have adequate health insurance coverage for your trip, which you might not get from your standard U.S. health insurance plan.

Does U.S. Health Insurance Cover International Travel?

Many people don’t realize their regular U.S. health insurance benefits may be limited (or may no longer apply) as soon as they step foot outside the country. That’s a risk you don’t want to take. Verify whether you’re covered abroad by consulting the policy wording for your U.S. health insurance plan—or, as the CDC recommends, by contacting your health insurance provider directly to ask about your coverage.

In some cases, your standard health care plan will not cover any medical expenses you incur outside the U.S. However, there may be certain situations in which you’re covered, or at least partially covered. Your provider will be able to inform you of these special instances.


What Does U.S. Health Insurance Include Outside of the Country?

When you talk to your health insurance provider, they may tell you that you have some insurance coverage outside of the country, but your coverage might not include certain benefits that are important to have. Be sure to ask your provider if your health coverage includes any of the following:

Emergency Medical Evacuation

Emergency medical evacuation, or “medevac,” is the emergency transport of an individual from an inadequate medical facility to a hospital that is more suitable for treating the life-threatening condition at hand. This is important when traveling abroad because many regions of the world—especially those that are isolated—may have sparse access to quality medical services. U.S. health insurance plans that do offer international coverage oftentimes do not offer coverage for medical evacuation.

Pre-Authorization for Treatment, Hospitalization, or Other Medical Services

It’s possible that your insurance only covers treatments that your provider deems medically necessary beforehand. If this is the case, ask your provider what those treatments are and what procedures you would need to follow to obtain these covered services.

Deductibles, Co-Pays, and Limits for Out-Of-Network Services

Policies for international, out-of-network coverage are likely to differ from your standard coverage. In many cases, you should be prepared to pay these fees out of pocket and file a claim for reimbursement later.

Does Medicare Cover Travel Outside the United States?

Medicare subscribers are typically not covered outside of the United States, meaning you will be solely responsible for any medical expenses you incur abroad. However, there are certain rare cases in which Medicare does provide some assistance.

If you meet any of these criteria, Medicare may cover up to 80% of your medical costs:

  • While in the United States, you experience a medical emergency or need treatment for a medical condition and a foreign hospital is the nearest qualified hospital to treat you.

  • While driving the most direct route between Alaska and a U.S. state, you experience a medical emergency, and a Canadian hospital is the nearest hospital qualified to treat you.

  • You receive medically necessary healthcare services while onboard a ship located in U.S. territorial waters (the ship must not be more than 6 hours from the nearest U.S. port).

When to Consider Travel Health Insurance

Travel health insurance is a kind of international insurance designed to cover emergency health care costs incurred while traveling abroad, such as those associated with unexpected injury or illness. In addition to emergency medical coverage, travel health insurance often provides certain travel benefits as well.

Since your domestic health insurance may not cover you in all the ways you need to be covered when traveling abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of State both recommend purchasing a travel health insurance policy before embarking on your trip. Depending on your destination, you may even be required to purchase travel medical insurance for your visa.

Travel health insurance provides coverage for eligible medical expenses that may arise while traveling. It’s also a budget-friendly way to augment U.S. health insurance policies that offer limited international coverage.

What Is Atlas Travel Health Insurance?

Consider WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel insurance for your trip. We offer two international travel medical insurance plans for travelers to choose from as well as a wide range of deductibles ($0 - $5,000) and overall maximum coverage limits (up to $2 million).

Atlas Travel comes with some health insurance coverage that can be very helpful in dire situations.

Emergency Medical Treatment

Atlas Travel covers eligible costs of local ambulance transportation (should you require inpatient hospitalization), your hospital room and board, and other eligible medical expenses.

Emergency Medical Evacuation

One of the most crucial benefits of travel medical insurance is coverage for the cost of transportation from a medical facility that is not able to provide adequate, medically necessary care to a hospital that can provide the needed care. The CDC warns that without insurance, medical evacuation may cost upwards of $100,000. That’s why Atlas Travel offers up to $1,000,000 for a covered emergency medical evacuation.

Costs Associated With Death

In the event of your death, Atlas Travel insurance will cover eligible costs associated with the repatriation of your remains—or your local burial or cremation. It also offers Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) benefits, which pay a predetermined amount to your beneficiary in the case of a covered injury resulting in your death.

Unexpected Events

Atlas Travel covers certain unforeseen circumstances, which could include medical expenses resulting from terrorism or political evacuation expenses if the U.S. Department of State issues a level 3 or higher travel advisory after your arrival in your destination country.

Emergency Family Transportation

If you are hospitalized due to a covered medical emergency or medical evacuation, Atlas Travel can provide coverage for the cost of transporting a family member to your bedside.

Travel Benefits

Atlas Travel also provides coverage in cases of lost or stolen checked baggage, trip delays, a lost passport or travel documents, and more.

Times You Might Not Be Covered by Travel Health Insurance

Don’t assume you have coverage for all injuries, illnesses, or travel mishaps you might face abroad. There are some types of expenses that many travel health insurance plans don’t cover.

These could include:

  • Pre-existing conditions*
  • Routine medical exams or preventive care
  • Mental health care
  • Injury or illness due to excluded extreme sports
  • Drug-related injury
  • And more

*A general definition for a pre-existing condition is an injury, illness, disorder, disease, or other physical or mental condition that exists in a defined period (usually 180 days – 5 years) before your policy goes into effect. Check your policy documents for the definition specific to your plan. You can see Atlas Travel policy documents here.

Who Should Buy Travel Health Insurance?

Not sure if you need travel health insurance for your trip? The truth is that travelers of all kinds may want to consider purchasing a policy, including:

  • Backpackers, adventure travelers, and eco-tourists
  • Tourists and vacationers
  • Business travelers
  • Missionaries and service workers
  • International students

Who Shouldn't Buy Travel Health Insurance?

Still, there are a few types of travelers that may not benefit from travel health insurance. If you fall into one of these categories, travel health insurance might not be right for you:

  • Individuals needing coverage for a pre-existing condition
  • Expats or long-term travelers requiring a normal health insurance replacement
  • “Medical tourists” traveling for the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment abroad

How Much Does an Atlas Travel Health Insurance Plan Cost?

An Atlas Travel health insurance plan can be quite budget-friendly. The price of your policy depends on these factors:

  • Age
  • Trip length
  • Whether you’re traveling inside or outside the U.S.
  • Deductible you choose
  • Maximum coverage limit you choose
  • Whether you add any optional upgrades

Depending on trip length, policies for younger travelers with a lower maximum coverage limit and a higher deductible are the least expensive. In fact, some policies start at less than $1 a day. Meanwhile, policies for older travelers with a higher maximum coverage limit and a lower deductible are the most expensive.

WorldTrips has helped travelers for over 25 years prepare for the unexpected. Get a free quote for travel health insurance coverage today.

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WorldTrips international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd.