Taking Care of Yourself While Traveling
By Aldis Barsketis
Living here in San Miguel De Allende, we are fortunate to have access to excellent healthcare and doctors, being prepared for the costs of unexpected health treatment should be a top priority. If you travel here or are living permanently, it is advisable that you acquire an expatriate health insurance or travel insurance. Your length and purpose of stay here should be the basis of what type of insurance you should get. Let us differentiate the two.
A travel health insurance plan is designed to cover you for a new illnesses or accident. Policies can be purchased from five days and extended for up to three years. A travel policy has a definite end date of coverage. It is meant to treat a new illness or accident, not preexisting conditions. On the other hand, an Expatriate Health Insurance plan is specially designed for expatriates who are living here for a longer period of time. It fully covers you for the full period of time you are staying abroad and allows you to choose where you want to have your treatment for emergency and non-emergency cases, which means hospital stays, consultation fees and the actual treatment is covered. Additional care options include adding coverage for a return trip to the US or Canada, but keep in mind that this extra coverage means higher premiums.
Travel policies can be purchased with US dollar limits from 60,000 to US$8,000,000 of total coverage and are offered to clients up to 79 years of age. They have deductibles from 250 to US$10,000. Policies do not require medical underwriting, however any preexisting conditions will not be covered. They also offer coverage for travel related problems such as missed airplane connections or lost luggage. Policies can be purchased to cover them for their occasional trips back to the US or Canada.
An expatriate health insurance policy is meant for individuals that are living here for more than 6 out of 12 months. Plans generally allow for treatment at any doctor or medical facility in Mexico. If you purchase the option for care in the US also, the care is limited to a provider network of doctors and facilities. Underwriting requires a review of your health conditions. Policies can be issued that might exclude a preexisting condition that someone might have. Many clients are surprised how affordable a health insurance plan can cost to cover them as compared to what a plan costs in the US.
It is important to review the benefits offered. Some policies will only reimburse costs based on a preset schedule for procedures. Better policies will provide for reimbursement at usual and customary rates for that procedure in the US. It is also important to review how your deductible works. Some plans will have a deductible per illness, others for your total health claims for the policy year. Also review waiting periods for coverage for new illnesses.
For US Individuals over 65 and have Medicare, the plan itself does not cover foreign care. Some medigap policies that you purchase can cover you for your first 60 days of a trip, cover 80 percent of emergency care to life time cap of 50,000 with a us$250 deductible. Check with your provider to see exactly what coverage you might have and the terms. Clients that rely on this care should consider a medical evacuation policy to return them back to the US or Canada for major illness or accidents.
Until recently, Expatriate health insurance plans were limited and very costly for individuals over 65. New, affordable options are now available for individuals to age 74. The plans generally require good health and a medical exam to qualify for coverage.
Finally, if you are a temporary or permanent resident of Mexico, explore what options might be available with the Mexican government social plans like Seguro Popular or IMMS. The care options and facilities are limited and the plans do not offer access to most private hospitals. However, having some coverage is better than none.
No matter what your reason is for coming to Mexico, remember that obtaining health insurance that fits you and your family’s specific needs should be your top priority so it is important that you do a thorough research on what type of health insurance that suits your needs as well as their policies.
Aldis Barsketis is the Owner of WeExpats Insurance Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org or Vonage 435-714-7012