The health-care gap that traps travelers

monitorAhem. Are we forgetting something?

The debate about health-care reform seems to be ignoring a significant group of Americans: international travelers.

People like Aphrodite Tsairis, who said she fell “violently ill” on a visit to Bermuda last month. After a CAT scan, a diagnosis of bowel obstruction, a night at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and a medical evacuation by private jet back to the States, Tsairis got a bill for $23,785.

Traditional health insurance plans typically limit out-of-country coverage to emergency expenses, at most. They also have high deductibles and co-pays for treatment abroad and don’t cover evacuations such as Tsairis’s.

About one in five Americans buys travel insurance, according to the US Travel Insurance Association, a trade group. But a new survey by the organization found that only a fraction of the policies bought — about 5 percent — are primarily medical in nature.