Encourage overseas visitors to include travel insurance on checklist


by Bonnie DeJesus
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public Affairs

Courtesy photo Service members living in Europe who are expecting visitors should advise them to obtain health care insurance coverage before their visit.
Courtesy photo
Service members living in Europe who are expecting visitors should advise them to obtain health care insurance coverage before their visit.
No one wants to think there could be a medical emergency when they’re on vacation or traveling to visit friends or relatives. But the reality is, some people on vacation end up in European hospitals or require outpatient care on the local economy.

Reasons for these unplanned mishaps include car accidents, strokes or heart attacks, falls resulting in broken bones or head injuries, flu or the sudden realization their prescription medication has run out. In some cases, patients have to be in ICU for weeks or months.

In other instances such as car or motorcycle accidents, more than one member of a visiting family may require medical attention or hospitalization. And one of the worst-case scenarios is a patient not being able to return home on a commercial aircraft and requiring a medical flight back to the U.S. A medical flight alone can cost approximately $13,000 or more depending on the need for medical equipment and accompanying medical personnel.


All of these examples have the potential to create extreme financial hardship for those involved if medical insurance is not available.

For these, reasons, people living in Europe who are expecting visitors should advise them to ensure they obtain health care insurance coverage before their visit.

Folks who are not in possession of a military/retiree/DOD civilian Identification Card are not eligible for care at a Military Treatment Facility except for emergencies to save sight, life or limb.

Even those who have an ID card may be sent off a military post for care if an appointment isn’t available. Or, if a medical need arises when a military treatment facility is not nearby, the patient would need to seek care at a facility on the economy wherever they are.

Medicare does not pay for healthcare outside the U.S. Some private health insurances also do not pay for healthcare outside the U.S. Some will not pay directly to a hospital. This results in patients having to pay their bills up front and file with the health insurance company for reimbursement.

Those interested in obtaining travel insurance should carefully research what is covered and if there is a limit on the coverage. Does the travel insurance include a medical flight back home? Will the travel insurance pay hospitals directly or do they require the patient to pay up front and then file for reimbursement?

If a person buys travel insurance for $10,000 worth of coverage, that coverage may not be very useful if the buyer cannot afford to pay $10,000 up front to the hospital if the bill should amount to that.

Knowing your visitors can be treated if a medical need arises ensures a worry free stay for both hosts and guests.

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