Medical Insurance for Travelers and Health Resources

One of the most popular questions during trip planning is “Do I need international travel insurance?” Most often, it encompasses broader concerns related to the health and medical realm of traveling. This post helps to understand differences between terms “international travel insurance” vs. “international health insurance”; explains even more complicated position of US citizens traveling to foreign lands; lists health-related resources for further reading.

Medical Insurance and other Health Resources

The health insurance topic pertains to US citizens, but other resources are applicable to everyone.

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Peculiarities of the US Healthcare

The US is the only developed country without universal healthcare. This fact seriously affects long-term American travelers. I was surprised how many people who travel outside of the US or just planning to travel for an extended period of time (i.e. been abroad for more than a year) didn’t do their homework about what implications their lifestyle might have on their insurance policies.

At least some of US health insurance policies have a misleading clause about medical treatment abroad. However, it meant only for short-term trips: a week-long European vacation is Ok, but a year-long voyage around the world is not. As an experienced insurance broker explained to me, insurance companies are very suspicious about claims from abroad and could easily drop you if they suspect policy violation.

The answer to this debacle is getting an international health insurance. It is specifically designed for travelers and comes in two “flavors”: including US coverage or excluding it. Intriguingly, the cost of international insurance could be lower than a domestic one.

Differences between international travel insurance and international health insurance

It is important to understand the difference between international travel insurance and international health insurance:

  • international health insurance covers inpatient treatment check-ups and continuing treatment of chronic conditions abroad
  • international travel insurance is meant for people on vacations or short trips abroad to cover cancellations, personal belongings and emergency medical treatment. Usually, it will return you back home to continue treatment once you are fit enough to make the trip back.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not an insurance agent. If you have any questions or looking for health insurance while traveling, please seek professional advice from a qualified insurance professional.

International Health Insurance

How to verify that an insurance company is legit and it’s rating (in the US)

Accidental Insurance

Travel Insurance

For Traveling Women

Traveling with a Medical Condition

Health and Travel

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Published: May 2015. Last update: March 2019

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Health Insurance For Travelers
What a US long-term traveler should know about health insurance. International travel insurance vs. international medical insurance. Health and travel online resources.

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