You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out before you leave. You should ask your insurance company two questions:
(1) Does my policy apply when I’m outside the United States?
(2) Will it cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or an evacuation?
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. You can’t simply give them your insurance card and expect it will go through. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to purchase a separate policy for your trip.
The Social Security Program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States.
Before you leave for your trip here are a few tips that you may find helpful. First, I recommend that you leave a copy of your insurance cards along with your travel itinerary with a trusted person at home, whether it is grandpa, grandma, siblings, office staff, etc. It is also a good idea to have a copy of the insurance cards and prescriptions of those that you are traveling with. My husband and I carry each others in addition to our own. If there is a true emergency, the “patient” may not be able to provide the necessary information.
Wellmark has a BlueCard Network that provides you with peace of mind knowing that your coverage is accepted across the United States and around the world. So, when life takes you beyond the state or even national borders, know that network includes more than 700,000 physicians and 6,000 hospitals worldwide. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the value added benefits of your Wellmark coverage. Through the 800 number on the back of your card or www.wellmark.com you can access a Personal Health Assistant 24/7. Not only can you get answers to health care questions, you will be provided direct connection to specially trained health professionals who can provide tools and support your needs. Care Navigation 24/7 provides help in locating health care resources and understanding medical treatments. Nurse Support 24/7 provides advice on urgent care concerns. If your student is traveling abroad (planning a stay longer than a vacation), be sure to work with the college or university or determine if other coverage should be considered.
In Part 2 of this post, we’ll address immunizations.