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Jet-Setting and Health Insurance

Making sure you’re covered when you go abroad

Written by: Andrew Hall.

Key Takeaways

  • If you are planning international travel, it’s important to note that your current health plan may not cover you should you need medical care abroad.

  • Check with your current health plan to determine whether you have access to coverage in the specific places you’ll be traveling to.

  • Be sure to confirm exactly what services are covered (and not covered) to make sure you have comprehensive coverage.

  • If your current plan offers no coverage for international travel, consider purchasing a temporary health plan or supplementing your existing coverage with an international rider.

Young woman shopping in a foreign market while traveling.

Preparing for a “Just in Case” Scenario

When you’re planning your vacation, one of the last things you’re probably thinking about is your health insurance. However, as much as you don’t want to dwell on the negative, it’s essential to make sure you’re covered if you need medical care.

We’ve created a list of the most basic questions you should answer before boarding your next flight to another country.

Start with the Plan You Have

To start the process of making sure you’re covered, contact your current health insurance company and see if your plan covers medical care in foreign countries. Be sure to let them know exactly where you’ll be visiting as coverage can vary based on location.

It’s also important to get clarity around what your international coverage includes. For example, does it cover simple visits to the doctor, or would you be covered for emergency surgery? Would standard pharmacy benefits be available, or would all medications be paid out of pocket?

Dig into Emergency Coverage.

While Emergency Care is included as an Essential Health Benefit for all health plans, it’s not necessarily required for international coverage. There are health insurance plans that help with extended emergency care but may have high-risk exclusions.

If you are planning on hitting the slopes or hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, make sure these risky activities are covered. If they’re not, it’s important that you look into additional coverage before taking off on your adventure. Otherwise, according to the U.S. State Department, you could end up paying $10,000 out of pocket to get airlifted back to the United States.

Consider temporary coverage.

If your current health plan does not currently cover you when traveling abroad, your best option may be to purchase a temporary plan that would provide coverage for medical care while you’re traveling. When you’re choosing temporary health insurance, be sure that it also covers medical emergencies and evacuation. You can also purchase specific coverage to supplement your existing policy while out of the country.


When can I purchase temporary insurance?

Suppose you check your current plan and determine you need temporary insurance to cover a trip. It’s common to be able to get coverage months in advance of your trip, or in some cases even days before.

Can pre-existing conditions impact my coverage?

You can get coverage, but your costs may be higher if you need to get temporary insurance to cover your travels.

What's Next?