A: That question came up in a meeting with a client recently. Health care you get while traveling outside the U.S. generally isn't covered by Medicare, so if you or a loved one becomes seriously ill or injured abroad, hospital payments and other expenses will be your responsibility.


Before you go abroad, learn what medical services your private health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, remember to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of your insurance and a claim form.


If your private insurance doesn’t cover international expenses, you can reduce the cost of a medical emergency by purchasing one or all three types of supplemental insurance for their trip:

  • Travel insurance – In general, travel insurance protects the financial investment in a trip, including lost baggage and trip cancellation. Depending on the policy, this type of insurance may or may not cover medical expenses abroad, so travelers need to carefully research the coverage offered to see if additional travel health and medical evacuation insurance is needed.
  • Travel medical insurance – Travel medical insurance covers costs of covered medical attention you may need while abroad.
  • Medical evacuation insurance – Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States, which can easily cost $10,000 and up (depending on your location and medical condition). You can get information about travel health and medical evacuation insurance from the U.S. State Department.

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