Does my Health Plan Cover Me While I’m Traveling?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 13, 2020

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If you want to be certain that your health insurance covers you in another state or in a foreign country, you need to review the policy carefully. Health insurance policies differ greatly in the kind of coverage they provide and where they provide it.

Some major health insurance companies only provide their members with emergency medical coverage in another state and worldwide, but some don’t even provide for emergency care. If you plan to travel, even just to another state, check with the member services representative for your health insurance plan to see if you will be covered, where, and for what conditions.
Some plans cover only the contiguous United States, which means if you travel to Alaska or Hawaii, you will not be covered.

Also, be sure to get written verification that your intended travel destination is covered. Never rely solely on information received over the telephone, and with written verification you will have support if you do have to submit a claim.

Don’t be surprised if you pay more for health care while traveling. If your plan is a PPO, you may be charged more when traveling than you would have to pay for the same services using your “preferred providers” at home.

If you are planning to travel to areas not covered by your health insurance policy, you may want to invest in a travel insurance policy that provides coverage for accidents and health problems. Many different travel insurance policies are available. When choosing a policy, don’t depend on price alone. You need to read all the fine print to be certain those who need coverage are covered and that all their activities—i.e. skiing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, windsurfing, deep-sea diving, etc.– are covered. If you fail to do this, you may be purchasing an absolutely worthless policy.

Some policies are available for certain types of travel, for instance, for those who plan to travel in a recreational vehicle. And some policies are truly international in scope; those are ideal for adventurous, frequent travelers who visit many parts of the world.

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