When choosing a plan, you need to factor in such variables as your destination (remote and rural or modern and urban), planned activities (strolling or scuba diving) and your age and personal health, specifically any preexisting conditions. You can also choose between single- and multi-trip coverage, depending upon how often you spin the globe.
For the most basic plan, the cost will equal your daily Starbucks coffee-and-scone fix — from $3 to $8 a day. For example, Evans, who’s 52, calculated that for a three-week international trip, he would spend $58 on a plan that would pay up to $50,000 in emergency medical protection and up to $500,000 for an evacuation.
Apparently, peace of mind is a bargain.
“It’s probably one of the most unsettling things to be ill in a foreign country,” said Phyllis Kozarsky, a travel health consultant for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “and there’s nothing sadder than being in dire straits and having to pay $50,000 to $100,000 for medical care.”
Kozarsky has experienced the discomfort of ailing abroad and the disappointment of a ruined trip. Soon after arriving in India in 1987, she succumbed to illness and had to fly home for treatment.
“I did everything wrong that you could imagine,” said the professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Emory University in Atlanta. “I was outside at night in shorts. I had no access to clean water. I had holes in the screen and an old air-conditioner. I ate anything. I was a high-risk individual.”
Physician friends of her Indian sponsor family diagnosed her symptoms as pneumonia, diarrhea, dehydration and an unconfirmed case of Legionnaire’s disease. Kozarsky did not have supplemental travel health insurance, but she had connections, which absolved her from the quest for outside medical care.
The flip side: If you buy insurance, you gain connections.
In addition to easing the financial strain, travel medical insurance also pairs the patient with an assistance company that will provide support from the first distress call to the final discharge. The advocate offers such invaluable guidance as pointing the patient to a reputable hospital and facilitating treatment by corresponding with the attending physicians.