Insurance for Visits to the USA
The United States in an amazing country to visit; there are almost limitless things for international visitors to see, experience, and enjoy. Whether you are looking for cities, shopping, culture and dining; outdoor hiking, skiing and adventure; or just enjoying a slow-paced, rural experience, there are a staggering number of possibilities available.
As you plan your vacation to the USA, it is important to make sure you purchase visitors insurance. Visitor health insurance, also called visitor medical insurance, is a short-term travel medical insurance policy that visitors to any country can purchase so they have coverage for accidental injury or illness during their stay in the host country. Visitors insurance is not a requirement to enter the USA as a visitor, but it is recommended. Those familiar with the US medical system will understand the need for health insurance coverage, especially if you know how much health care costs in the USA.
In the USA, health care is provided by private hospitals and clinics. Medical care in the USA can be extremely costly. In fact, most citizens have medical insurance. Often, insurance is an employment benefit, but it is also purchased individually.
Traveling to the US without medical insurance could be very expensive in the case of any illness, accident or health related problem. Purchasing insurance can protect you from high, unexpected expenses.
Ideally, you should purchase a visitors insurance policy once you decide on traveling. Policies can be purchased online no matter where you are located. Coverage should start from your date of departure and continue until your return home.
What is the Best Visitor Insurance in the USA
Visitors insurance plans essentially have two broad categories, limited or scheduled benefit plans and comprehensive coverage plans.
Limited or Scheduled Plans
A plan that is called limited or scheduled is also known as basic visitor insurance or travel medical insurance plans. They tend to be lower-cost and cover expenses up to a pre-determined or scheduled benefit table. The allowances in the plan can be reviewed prior to purchase of the policy.
Comprehensive Coverage Plans
Plans that offer comprehensive coverage are quite different then limited plans. Comprehensive plans pay a percentage amount for each eligible expense, typically 70 – 90% up to the first $5,000 on the policy and 100% after that. Comprehensive coverage plans offer more than limited plans and may offer coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions. These global medical insurance plans are typically annual contracts and are renewable for life, or to a certain age.
How do I Choose Visitors Insurance?
Choosing the right visitors insurance for your needs can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:
- Carefully research your needs and review any existing insurance you might have.
- Purchase a US based plan that will have a strong network of US doctors , relationship with the hospitals you receive care from, and pay the doctors in US dollars.
- Ask lots of questions, for example:
- If you decided to stay longer, is the plan renewable?
- Does the company have an in-house, emergency medical assistance number you can call anytime?
- If needed, are there translation services available?
- Are you required to pay up-front for bills?
- What are the deductible options?
- Does the plan provide for medical evacuation?
- Is repatriation covered?
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to be aware of and understand the terms of your insurance policy. Carefully read the fine print and ask questions to make sure you fully understand the policy. It is also important to know how to use your visitors insurance in case you need it.
Visitors Insurance for Illnesses or Medical Emergencies
When possible, obtain approval from your insurer before seeking medical treatment. There will be a number on your insurance card that you can call for medical assistance. Here is how you can use the insurance in the event of a medical emergency such as a sickness or injury.
At the Hospital
- Show your insurance information or insurance ID card
- Provide all the information required by the medical reception staff. Note: A hospital receptionist may contact the insurance company to verify your benefits
- Be prepared to make payment if asked. While many providers will directly bill the insurance company, it is possible you will be asked to make a payment to cover your deductible or insurance co-pay
- Obtain a detailed report and invoice from the hospital before leaving the country
- Keep all your original receipts for submission to your insurer
- Keep a copy of all documents for your personal records
At a Doctor’s Office
- Show your insurance information or insurance ID card
- Ask the doctor relevant questions and honestly answer his questions
- Only receive appropriate medical treatment
- You may be asked to pay a bill upfront – be sure to keep all of your receipts
- Get a detailed invoice before leaving
- Submit the original receipts to your insurer
- Make a copy of all documents for your own files
When Buying Medicine at the Pharmacy
- Take your prescription from the doctor.
- Make an upfront payment for your medication.
- Obtain your receipts.
- Keep a copy of the receipts for your own files.
- Submit the original receipt to your insurance company.
Common Exclusions / Pre-Existing Conditions in Visitors Insurance
- Common exclusions for visitors, or travel medical insurance, plans include pre-existing conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, cancer or any other illness that you may have at the time you purchase the insurance. Other exclusions typically include maternity care, childbirth, preventative care such as check-ups and immunizations, eye exams for prescriptions and glasses, cosmetic procedures and dental work not related to an accident or emergency.
Keep in mind that since pre-existing medical conditions are not typically covered by visitors health insurance, treatment for existing conditions, including prescriptions, will not be covered.
When you are traveling, keep the details of your insurance policy with you and make sure your travel agent, another member of your traveling party and someone back home (a friend or relative) have a copy of the information and are able to get in touch with your insurer.
When purchasing your visitors insurance, remember to take a look at other kinds of travel insurance too, such as trip cancellation coverage for non-US citizens. You can often arrange a variety of insurance coverage through one insurer.
Purchasing visitors insurance can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you take the time to research your options, you can have peace of mind while you travel. Hopefully, you won’t need to use the insurance, but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need it.