Most seniors traveling abroad have health coverage through Medicare. Here are some important considerations when considering which travel insurance plans work best for you.
Understanding Travel Insurance
Medicare Doesn’t Cover Foreign Travel
With very few narrow exceptions, Medicare does not cover medical care outside the United States.
Standard Medigap or Supplemental plans C, D, F, G, M, and N provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S. These plans pay 80% for certain medically necessary emergency care after you meet a $250 deductible for the year. These plans have a foreign travel emergency coverage lifetime limit of $50,000.
Some basic travel insurance policies provide Secondary coverage meaning they would pay only after primary coverage was depleted. For those on a Medicare Supplemental Plan (Medigap) which offers a $50,000 lifetime cap on eligible overseas medical expenses, if your travel insurance is Secondary, all eligible medical expenses will be charged toward your $50,000 lifetime cap BEFORE the travel insurance pays a penny.
Pre-existing Condition Waiver
Most travel insurance providers will waive pre-existing conditions if the policy is purchased within two or three weeks (depending on the carrier) from the payment of the initial deposit.
Pre-existing Condition Waiver Caveat – ALL NON-REFUNDABLE EXPENSES MUST BE INCLUDED
Allianz and Travel Guard both have requirements that all non-refundable expenses must be covered. Subsequent non-refundable additions (including airfare, hotels, shore excursions, etc.) MUST be added to the policy and an additional premium may be required. Failure to add these subsequently purchased non-refundable expenses VOIDS the pre-existing condition waiver.
Travel Insurance Selection Considerations
What is your objective in purchasing travel insurance?
Medical Coverage: For those over 65 and on Medicare or those on an employer plan which does not provide coverage outside of the United States, medical coverage is critical. Some countries are now requiring proof of medical coverage to enter their country. People in this group need to look for a plan that offers sufficient coverage in case of a serious illness or accident occurring outside the United States or be prepared to pay personally for charges exceeding a travel policies medical coverage limit.
Medical Only Coverage: Cancellation & Trip Interruption Coverage make up the bulk of the cost of a travel insurance premium. So some people chose to assume those risks and opt for a policy providing only medical coverage. We offer this through TravelSafe - you are essentially buying a short-term medical policy without any (or limited) cancellation coverage.
Cancellation & Trip Interruption Coverage: Sometimes life throws you a curveball. You get a jury duty summons and can’t get out of it. You or you spouse become ill or injured just before your departure date. Or you lose your job just before your trip. Depending on the plan, travel insurance will cover these and other events that may force you to cancel your trip and allow you to recover your non-refundable expenses (cruise, airfare, hotels, shore excursions, etc.). If you’ve expended a significant amount of funds on your trip, you may want this coverage.
This is not intended to be a complete discussion about travel insurance and its coverage. For details contact your travel agent or representatives of the travel insurance company.
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Blog author. Former travel editor for Compete Magazine, awarded top 25 travel writing blog 2018 & 2019..