What does travel health insurance cover?
Most travel insurance will pay doctor and hospital expenses up to the benefit limit when you face a medical emergency when traveling.
However – and this is important – you need to pay close attention to whether your travel medical insurance is primary or secondary, and how it covers pre-existing conditions.
Travel Health Insurance: Primary Vs. Secondary
Sometimes travel medical insurance pays secondary. That means all the travel medical bills first go to your health plan for payment. They’ll apply deductibles, copays and maximums and pay what is covered by your health insurance plan; then your travel insurance will pay what’s left, up to the benefit limit.
However, if your travel health insurance is primary, it will be the first policy to pay your travel emergency medical bills.
For those on Medicare it is important to know your Medicare coverage does not cover you outside the United States. Purchasing a travel protection plan (whether primary or secondary) is a good idea.
Many travel health plans have rules around how they’ll cover pre-existing conditions, starting with how they define “pre-existing.”
Often plans have a “look-back” period, meaning the plan will look back at your medical history to see if a condition appeared during a period that could range from 90 days to one year, depending on the policy.
Many plans may cover pre-existing conditions, but only if you buy your plan within 15 days of when you made your first deposit on your trip.
Because different plans define and cover pre-existing conditions differently, it’s important to understand before you buy how your plan defines this term.