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Visitors Insurance and Travel Medical Coverage for USA

09 Jul 2013 Visitors Insurance

If your parents or relatives are planning to come to the United States of America, for the first time or on a repeat visit, to visit you and/or your family in USA, them it is of paramount importance that you evaluate and purchase the right amount of visitors insurance for health coverage and travel protection. The right timing for this is to buy coverage immediately after their US visitor visa (B1/B2 holder) is in place and their travel dates and airline tickets are confirmed.

Travel to the U.S. is always exciting as it offers a different environment and culture than the visitor can experience first-hand, as opposed to just seeing through the lens of the media. But if you have followed the news closely, you will always hear about the rising cost of health care and emergency medical treatment for any injury or sickness that a visitor has during his or her short-term stay or travel around in USA. This is especially discouraging information for seniors such as parents or relatives visiting USA, as this correlates to high cost for coverage they need to pay for in order to secure their health. But on the brighter side, most of these expenses can be easily shielded by purchasing proper visitors medical insurance plan from a US based provider offering well rounded coverage and features.

Visitor health insurance plans offered on are broadly segmented as fixed scheduled benefit plans or comprehensive coverage policies. Some of the salient features and terms encountered in these plans as described below, make sure you understand the deductible and any coverage features and policy limits:

  • Deductible: Deductible is the amount you pay upfront before the insurance company reimburses you for the eligible medical expenses. The deductible should not be confused for a co-pay amount, as it entails to be met crossed only once for the life of the plan. A higher deductible helps keep quoted premiums paid upfront lower. There are choice of deductibles ranging from $0 to $2500, it is however prudent to pick $250 or $500 deductible if purchasing visitors insurance for parents visiting USA.
  • Co-insurance: Most travel medical insurance plans that offer comprehensive coverage typically have co-insurance in a ratio format, and differentiating between in-network and out-of-network, if it uses a PPO network of care givers. Some plans waive the co-insurance requirement while within the PPO network, but will usually apply 20% co-insurance charge for costs incurred outside the PPO network, and this is typically for the first $5000 in costs beyond the deductible.
  • Pre-existing condition coverage: Most visitors insurance do not offer a blanket coverage for all pre-existing conditions that may have existed or manifested prior to the purchase of the plan. However, certain visitor health insurance plans offer limited coverage restricted by age and maximum benefit amount only for acute onset or sudden relapse of pre-existing conditions that were medically controlled. What this means is that if there was sudden recurrence of symptoms or disease that originally was treated in the look back period as defined in the plan brochure, then the insured will be covered for limited amount, and not to maximum covered amount.
  • Direct Billing or Reimbursement: Most insurance companies will have a PPO network which is a network of care givers such as doctors and specialists, laboratories, urgent care centers, acute care hospitals, etc that can be easily searched by zip code. When picking a doctor or hospital, selecting an in-network provider helps with better co-insurance terms as the insurance plan gets better negotiated rates. Also confirm with the provider to verify if your expenses are covered up front or if you pay first and get your claim reimbursed by the plan later.
  • Medical Evacuation and Repatriation: Most travel health insurance policies include coverage for medical evacuation which provides for transport in the form of ambulance or even medical airlifting the patient to the nearest medical facility for treatment. Also visitors medical insurance policies have coverage for repatriation of mortal remain and some also offer cremation benefits too.
  • Trip Insurance: With spiraling travel costs, it also make sense to protect the expensive trip investments with trip insurance features that will pay if the trip is cancelled or delayed or there is a loss for some reason. Some plans offer this a rider to the policy while other offer a limited amount of coverage part of the overall coverage benefits.
  • Prescription Drugs and Medication: If the insured is presently taking any medication, then it is recommended to carry medication for the whole travel and stay outside home country. Most visitor insurance plans will cover prescription drugs like any other medical expense, some policies also covers prescription drug replacement costs also.
  • Air Travel and Flight Coverage: Many plans offer common carrier accidental benefit for coverage on-board a commercial airliner. Visitor insurance policies also include coverage for lost baggage and will also cover a health emergency in a transit country also.
  • Plan Exclusions and Conditions: All plans typically exclude out coverage for terminal illness, pregnancy or childbirth, etc. as detailed in the plan brochure or the master policy description of coverage document. In other instances as in the case of hazardous sports coverage, only certain sports as described in the brochure are covered. Many visitor insurance plans also offer certain features conditionally for certain age groups and exclude certain age groups.