How domestic health plans work when you’re traveling abroad

Many of us already have health coverage, either through our employer or individually. And often, those plans include coverage for international travel. But how that coverage works can have a dramatic effect on your trip if you find yourself needing medical attention while traveling. Before you go, make sure you understand not just what’s covered but how it’s covered when you’re overseas.

The pain of payment at the time of service

In most countries, doctors and clinics will want you to pay at the time of service. With the typical health plan, you will need to hang on to your receipts, and then wait until after you get home to submit them for reimbursement. For something simple, like an office visit, your charges may be manageable. But for something more serious, like a broken bone or a hospital stay, costs may be significant and perhaps even exceed your credit card limit while you are out of the country.

You’re on your own when finding care

Finding a doctor in another country can be a challenge, especially if you aren’t feeling well. There may be a language barrier, and you may have zero guidance on how to find quality care. If you’re staying at a big enough hotel, a concierge may be able to help. But not every kind of trip comes with a concierge standing by. Many domestic health plans will not be able to help you here, so it may be worth your while to perform a little investigating before your trip to find clinics near where you will be staying.

How a SafeTrip plan can help

  • The best idea, of course, is to stay well and enjoy your trip. But for an extra layer of protection, you may wish to add a SafeTrip Travel Protection plan for all that it has to offer.
  • If you have a medical problem, just call the number on your ID card toll-free from anywhere in the world, and an actual person will start helping you right away.
  • Your assistance coordinator will help you find care in the local area.
  • Most hospitals will treat you and then send the bill to UnitedHealthcare (if it’s a small dollar amount, doctors will want you to pay at the time of service. You can then submit a claim for reimbursement).
  • You’ll have access to many other medical and travel assistance services as well.

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