Is the health insurance debate missing travelers?

hospitalDoes your health insurance cover you when you leave the country? A survey commissioned by the US Travel Insurance Association suggests you aren’t.

Traditional domestic health insurance plans typically limit coverage for out-of-country medical expenses to emergency-related costs, it found. They also have high deductibles and co-pays for emergency treatment abroad and don’t cover emergency transportation in cases of life threatening illness where medical evacuation may be required.

Half of Medicare recipients may not be covered abroad, the study also revealed. And, when covered, benefits are normally limited to 80 percent of emergency treatment costs, with a $250 deductible.

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Now, setting aside for a moment the self-serving nature and questionable methodology of USTIA’s survey (we don’t know how many people were surveyed or what was asked of them) it can be said that the group makes a terrific point. You probably aren’t covered by your health insurance when you leave the country.

“Travelers whose main concern is the unforeseen possibility of a health emergency while overseas should consider medical travel or other types of travel insurance,” says USTIA president Mike Ambrose.

That’s one solution. The other is that the folks in Washington who are discussing health care reform really ought to consider including language that would compel insurance companies to cover us wherever we are. We have only a vague idea of what kind of health care reform will be imposed on us. The bills under consideration make no mention of overseas coverage.

That’s no good.

Shouldn’t our health insurance cover us, no matter where we go? And not just for half the amount with a high deductible, but just like it does back home in the States?

(Photo: Funky64/Flickr Creative Commons)