How does travel medical insurance differ from travel insurance and do you need it?

No one wants to imagine being sick or injured on vacation; but if the worst happens, it pays (literally) to be prepared. Medical travel insurance can save you considerable hassle, time and money, and offer you peace of mind if you encounter health problems while traveling. But it’s also somewhat separate from most standard forms of travel insurance. While most common – and commonly needed – travel insurance is trip-cancellation (TCI) protection, you should certainly consider medical risks when you’re looking at your travel insurance options, up to and including emergency medical evacuation (also called “medevac”) assistance.

Who needs travel medical insurance?

The quick answer to that question is: Anyone who isn’t covered by their regular medical insurance when they’re traveling. More specifically, that means:

∙ Anyone whose regular health insurance/HMO doesn’t pay for services outside the U.S. There was a time when most private health insurance and most HMOs –covered you (and emergency medevac assistance) wherever you went, but that’s no longer the case. With relentless cutbacks in benefits in recent years, many standard health insurance programs will no longer cover medical bills in foreign countries. And most do not cover medevac.

∙ Any senior dependent on Medicare. Medicare will not pay for anything outside the U.S. Even if you have a Medicare supplement that nominally covers foreign travel, benefits are so meager that you might need additional insurance.

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