What’s Your Emergency Plan?

By Aldis Barsketis

It’s a fact: many people feel travel insurance is an unnecessary extra fee — and that goes double for medical evacuation insurance. But what if we add in another fact: an emergency medical evacuation can place an immense financial burden on you and your family. There are several myths surrounding these plans. Let’s bust of few of the top misconceptions.

“What’s Your Emergency Plan?”
Wed, Feb 25,10am
El Zaguan
Zacateros 12
aldis@weexpats.com mx
415 115-6589, Vonage 435 714-7012

I can’t afford medical evacuation coverage.

Actually, you can’t afford not to have it. Emergency medical evacuations do take place (at SkyMed we perform several services a week, in fact) and being medically repatriated from a foreign country back to the US can cost upwards of US$100,000.

Say you spend a weekend hiking in the middle of Mexico. The next thing you know, you’re in the local clinic with a compound fracture. Just think: where would you rather get that fixed — in some rural clinic in Mexico or back at your home hospital?

But won’t my medical insurance cover me anyway?

Actually, no, it won’t. According to a survey commissioned by the US Travel Insurance Association, “traditional domestic health insurance plans typically limit coverage for out-of-country medical expenses to emergency-related costs; have high deductibles and co-pays for emergency treatment abroad; and don’t cover out-of-country emergency medical transportation in cases of life threatening illness where medical evacuation may be required.” Oh, and we wouldn’t recommend relying on Medicare, either. According to the survey, “the study revealed that 50 percent of Medicare recipients may not be covered abroad and, when covered benefits are normally limited to 80 percent of emergency treatment costs, with a $250 deductible. Those concerned about the possibility of a health emergency while overseas should consider travel medical or other types of travel insurance.”

OK, I hear you. But what exactly will that membership pay for?

If your claim is deemed valid (and that’s usually agreed upon between the attending physician and the member services personnel of the company you choose), the membership you paid for will pick up a big tab, including everything from transportation to the nearest medical facility and repatriation. If you’re a SkyMed member, depending on the extent of your injury, you may be flown in a private medically equipped and staffed jet home after local stabilization, but prior to medical release from the hospital, if you are fit to travel commercially, they’ll see to it that you’re accompanied by a medically trained professional. They’ll also fly your companion home, not to mention your minor children, among other benefits.

How much medical evacuation coverage should I purchase?

The costs of medical transportation increase exponentially the farther you are from home. If you will be traveling within the United States, US$50,000. Latin America, US$100,000. Headed to Africa, Asia, Australia, US$250,000 in coverage is not unheard of. The point is, be covered.

Sure, the probabilities of a critical injury or illness happening while you’re away from home are low, but medical evacuations represent the highest possible loss while traveling. Basically, you have to weigh if that’s a risk you’re willing to take.

Have a plan.


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