Traveling Internationally? Get Your Health Insurance Together

September 30, 2008


When traveling abroad not only should you make sure that you have
had all the vaccines required for where you will be going, remember
to find out what kind of medical coverage you have when leaving the
country. Some insurance plans are only good in the country where
they were purchased, while others have some sort of coverage for
traveling abroad. It is possible to have a medical emergency while
traveling and you will need to have your medical information with
you at the time of service. Since January 1, 2006 it is now
required for all persons traveling in Europe to have a European
Health Insurance Card
(EHIC) to be able to receive medical
treatment while visiting an European Economic Area (EEA) or
Switzerland. So, make sure you find out if the country in which you
are traveling even accepts your insurance and if not what you will
need, such as an EHIC card or something else similar.

The EHIC is valid for three to five years. It covers any medical
treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, due to either
illness or an accident. This can be very handy especially when
traveling with the family. The card gives you and your family
access to state-provided medical treatment and you’ll be treated on
the same basis as an ‘insured’ person living in the country you’re
visiting. Depending on what country you are visiting, you might
have a co-pay or fee depending on the type of treatment. Each
country has its own uses for the card, so be sure to know the usage
and limitations of each country you are visiting. Flare-ups of
chronic diseases and pre-existing conditions is also covered under
EHIC, such as dyalisis or diabetes. Make sure you have all you
medical issues cleared up before traveling abroad to reduce the
risk of needing medical assistance. But having the protection in
case of an emegency is much better than getting stuck with a huge

EHIC will not cover you if getting medical treatment is the main
purpose of your trip. If you have scheduled a surgical procedure
abroad then you won’t be able to use EHIC and should have made the
arrangements with your private insurance to handle that. Make sure
when scheduling a medical procedure in another country your private
insurance is a form that is accepted. EHIC is for people who have
no known health issues or minor health problems. This will enable
them to be covered in cases of emergency or falling ill while
traveling. This keeps the individual from have to spend all their
money in medical treatment. You should take out comprehensive
private insurance as well for visits to all countries, regardless
of whether you are covered by your EHIC. For women traveling abroad
during pregnancy EHIC should cover any routine visit you might
need. They will also cover an emergency birth, but other paper work
might have to filled out at the time. If your sole purpose is to
give birth in another country you will not be able to use EHIC. You
will have to fill out other types of paper work that you can obtain
from the government of the country you are seeking to birth in.

Apply for the European Health Insurance Card if you:
Plan to go on holiday to another EU / EEA country or Switzerland
Regularly visit any of these countries on business, as a transport
worker or for leisure
Plan to go to any of these countries to look for work
Are being sent by your employer to work in any of these countries
Intend to go to school in any of these countries Intend to visit
any of these countries for any other type of temporary stay where
healthcare in itself is not the aim of the visit

Having a European Health Insurance Card will allow you to get
reduced cost or free medical assistance while traveling in European
Economic Area
countries, and Switzerland. The European Economic Are
includes the European Union, including Iceland and also
Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland also participates but has a
slightly different policy than some of the other countries. Make
sure you know where you will be staying and what the policy is for
each country.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational and informational
purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for
professional advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed Insurance
Agent or Broker with any questions you may have regarding any
Insurance Matter.