Posts Tagged ‘health’

Global Health and Travel Insurance for Career Breakers
Monday, September 16th, 2013

TIPS AND INSIGHT thanks to  Insure My Trip and Erin Fish of EMF Insurance Agency, Inc 

Having the right policy and understanding the benefits and limitations of your coverage is an essential step in setting your mind at ease so that you can truly enjoy your trip.

So how does one navigate the labyrinth of red tape and fine print that surrounds travel insurance? Just thinking about it is enough to raise the blood pressure of many would-be career breakers, but fear not! We’ve got your back…and we’ve called in an expert.

When it comes to getting the right Global Health and Travel insurance to meet your unique needs, Insure My Trip is our career break insurance experts. They have years of experience assessing the unique needs of each of their globetrotting clients and can help you find the policy that is perfect for you, your trip, and your needs.

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to insurance, but we have provided the following:

But first – a disclaimer! Insurance solutions are very dependent on a person’s situation, tolerance, and budget; we certainly couldn’t represent all of them here! Our aim is to give you a good start and then you can follow up with Erin or through our other online resources we’ve provided. In addition, this information is more specific to American travelers, as it tends to be the most complicated.

DEFINITIONS:

  • Domestic (America) Health Insurance: Domestic health insurance plans are designed to benefit the member when services are needed inside the USA. This leaves many gaps in benefits for people who are traveling abroad. For Americans traveling abroad, health care services occurring outside of the USA can be covered under the insured’s domestic health insurance policy once the insured has met their out-of-network deductible. This could mean an exposure of thousands of dollars.Examples – your corporate coverage such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, etc.

  • Long-Term International (HIPAA-Compliant) plans resemble domestic health insurance plans, but apply to a worldwide and a nationwide network of doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. They carry annual deductibles, annual out-of-pocket limits, maternity coverage (usually after 12 months of enrollment), and all of the perks of the travel insurance plans. Such plans are most appropriate for travelers who plan to spend 6 months or more abroad and for Ex-Pats planning to live in other countries for extended periods of time.This is the most comprehensive coverage for travel and can be used anywhere in the world, including when you return back to America. Examples – HTH Worldwide, 7 Corners
  • Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is designed to bridge the gap in benefits that the domestic plans present…and more. Credible and reliable travel insurance carriers have a worldwide and a nationwide network of doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. There are two main types – travel medical insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Examples – IMG, Travelex and many, many more!
    • 1. Travel Medical Insurance: Offers medical benefits when a traveler is overseas. These plans typically pay for hospitalization, surgery, doctor office visits, prescription drugs, ground ambulance and emergency medical evacuation. These plans tend to be relatively inexpensive; however, they do not provide any other travel benefits beyond medical coverage. This type of insurance can be purchased on a per-trip basis (up to 180 days and renewable once) or annually (covering any and all trips less than 70 days each). *Coverage can be purchased for travelers who do not have a domestic health insurance plan. However, such plans do not cover pre-existing conditions.
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance: Usually includes all the benefits of travel medical insurance, as well as other travel benefits such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage loss, travel delay and more. These plans are designed to insure the investment of your trip. These plans offer the broadest coverage and are more expensive than travel medical policies because the rates are partly dependent on the cost of the insured’s trip. (This type of insurance can also be purchased without the medical benefits included.)

FAQ’S FOR CAREER BREAKERS

  • What will these plans cover? Travel Medical insurance plans will cover:- Medical Services (Doctor office visits, surgery, anesthesia, labs & radiology, inpatient & outpatient hospital expenses, and more.- Dental Care required to an injury or for relief of pain- Prescription Drugs (outside of the USA)- Medical Evacuation to the nearest adequate facility (then home, if necessary) *This is often the most crucial aspect of Travel Medical plans– Bedside Visit (for one person to your place of hospital confinement)

    – Accidental Death & Dismemberment (like Life Insurance)

    – Repatriation of Remains

  • For ‘career breakers’ (middle aged as opposed to student travelers,) what should we be getting?

Age isn’t necessarily the most important factor in deciding which type of travel insurance to buy. Buying the most appropriate type of travel insurance plan depends on the length of the trip, cost of the trip, risk tolerance, and travel budget. Trip Cancellation insurance is a good choice for expensive trips because of the financial protection features of these plans. Travel Medical insurance is a good choice for lower priced trips or longer trips (especially those trips exceeding 30 days

  • If we get Travel Insurance, what coverage do we have when we return back to the US (either after our trip OR if we have to return because of an emergency)?
  • Trip Cancellation insurance and Travel Medical insurance policies are designed to cover travelers while on a covered trip. These plans are considered limited duration plans and are not HIPAA compliant. Once the customer returns home, their benefits are exhausted. In some cases coverage can continue if the illness or injury sustained while on the covered trip persists.
  • Will insurance companies look at travel insurance as ‘continuous coverage’ or by traveling for a year under travel insurance – will it appear that we have a ‘break in coverage’? More importantly, is a break in coverage bad? Short term travel insurance would not be considered credible ‘continuous coverage’ since it is a short term accident/sickness policy. This means there would be a ‘break in coverage’ if this was a persons only form of insurance. If they are planning to travel 6 months or longer; travelers should consider a Long-Term International health insurance plan, such as HTH Global Citizen. Global Citizen is considered creditable coverage and is administered using HIPAA guidelines.
  • What happens when you return home to the US and need insurance coverage after traveling? Should this be considered when you are choosing travel insurance? You definitely need to consider what your return to the US looks like. When you are done traveling, the travel insurance runs out. It will normally not cover you once you get back to the US. Therefore you will need a plan for how you will be covered with you return home. Getting approved for a domestic health insurance plan is not easy in the USA. All health insurance applications are medically underwritten, and an applicant can be approved, declined, or approved with surcharges. If you are planning on traveling for a few months, and you already have a domestic health plan, it is suggested that you keep your domestic plan and purchase a travel insurance plan to supplement your coverage. This will often give you better benefits in the travel insurance plan and it will prevent any lapses in coverage.When planning to travel for an extended amount of time it may be worth it to buy a long term international plan, enabling a continuation in coverage indefinitely when you return home to the United States. However, Long-Term International plans are also medically underwritten.
  • What do I do when I come return to the US? Getting approved for a domestic underwritten plan in the USA is not a guarantee. It can often include a lot of obstacles and may result in heavy surcharges or a declination, depending on the applicant’s medical history. If an illness or injury occurred during travel, the chances of approval become even more difficult. If you hold onto your domestic plan while traveling, or if you purchase a long-term HIPAA-compliant plan for your travels, you can avoid these complications upon your return. Your options when you return home and your Travel Insurance coverage has ended: Group-sponsored health plans (if you can secure a job that provides benefits)- Pre-existing Condition Insurance plan (government-subsidized plan)
  • Purchase an individual domestic policy (this process can vary greatly depending on where you live, your past insurance coverage, age, and medical conditions).
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to keeping my domestic plan? The main advantages you have by keeping your domestic plan:- You will not have a lapse in credible coverage- You will already be insured in the USA when you return- You can purchase a Travel Medical insurance policy that covers pre-existing condition. What disadvantages do I have in keeping my domestic plan? Keeping your domestic plan can be a lofty expense to maintain while you are traveling.
  • Other advice to take into consideration: When researching and purchasing travel insurance plans, it is important to purchase the plans from an admitted USA carrier (for example – HTH or 7 Corners). Such carriers are backed by the Department of Insurance and must abide by rules and regulations when upholding benefits and processing claims. Many travel insurance carriers are considered “off-shore” carriers, even though their offices are based in the USA (usually in Indiana). Such carriers can leave the insured exposed with little or no representation should benefits not be upheld or should claims not be processed or paid correctly.

SCENARIOS FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAREER BREAKS

  • I’m a career breaker and I am going to be traveling for 1-6 months. What should I be looking for with regards to travel insurance? You have a couple different option. If you have a domestic health insurance policy, it may be wisest to hold onto this policy and purchase a supplemental Travel Medical insurance policy to cover you at 100% and provide you with medical services and Emergency Medical Evacuation services while you are abroad. This way you will avoid having a lapse in credible coverage in your domestic health insurance plan. If your domestic plan is very expensive and you would like to keep your costs down, you can look into downgrading your domestic plan to secure a lower monthly premium. However, when you return from your trip it may be difficult to upgrade again.
  • I’m a career breaker and I am going to be traveling for 6-12 months. What should I be looking for with regards to travel insurance?  
    • Option 1: If you have a domestic health insurance policy it may be wisest to hold onto this policy and purchase a supplemental Travel Medical insurance policy to cover you at 100% and provide you with medical services and Emergency Medical Evacuation services while you are abroad. This way you will avoid having a lapse in credible coverage in your domestic health insurance plan. *Such a plan will cover pre-existing conditions since you also carry a domestic plan.
    • Option 2: Apply for a Long-Term HIPAA-compliant International Health Insurance plan to go into effect before you depart. (Whether you have a domestic insurance plan, or not.) Such a plan will act as a “global PPO health plan” and will serve as credible coverage. You can purchase such a plan to cover you worldwide or to cover you in all countries except for the USA. This is a commonly owned insurance policy for Ex-Patriots.
    • Option 3: If you do not have a domestic insurance plan, or if you would like to cancel such a plan, you can purchase a supplemental Travel Medical insurance policy to cover you at 100% and provide you with medical services and Emergency Medical Evacuation services while you are abroad. *Such a plan will not cover pre-existing conditions since you do not also carry a domestic plan. Note: If you are out of the USA for 6 or more continuous months it CAN leave your domestic policy VOID. If you are planning to keep your domestic health insurance plan, make sure to contact your insurance carrier to inform them of your travels and request that they keep your policy in-effect. Get their answer in writing.
  • I’m a career breaker and I am going to be traveling for 1 year or longer. What should I be looking for with regards to travel insurance? It is recommended that you apply for a Long-Term HIPAA-compliant International Health Insurance plan to go into effect before you depart. (Whether you have a domestic insurance plan or not.) Such a plan will act as a “global PPO health plan” and will serve as credible coverage. You can purchase such a plan to cover you worldwide or to cover you in all countries except for the USA. This is a commonly owned insurance policy for Ex-Patriots.

RESOURCES:

  • For expert advice and no obligation to purchase, contact out Career Break Insurance Hotline via Insure My Trip – 855-773-9375.  Their reps can lead you through a few questions to help you determine what may be right for your situation.
  • Get a quote by filling out this form on Meet Plan Go!

 

Good Health: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Thursday, October 25th, 2012

You’ve heard them: stories of woe from your friends and family.  It was a vacation derailed by diarrhea.  Or a business trip sabotaged by jet lag and food poisoning.  Or maybe a spring break trip undone by dehydration, “Montezuma’s revenge” or worse…

You’ve worked too hard to prepare for your travels.  Don’t let a few preventable health issues ruin your time abroad.  Instead, keep these simple precautions in mind, and you’ll be free to enjoy the trip of your dreams!

Beat the Bugs

♦ Tropical insects like mosquitoes carry malaria and other serious diseases.

♦ Wear insect repellent containing DEET and reapply it after swimming or heavy sweating.

♦ Wear protective clothing like pants and long sleeves when practical.

♦ Sleep in air-conditioned, well-screened areas.

♦ Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.

♦ Use bed nets permeated with a permethrin insecticide.

♦ Use coils and insect sprays containing pyrethrum to kill insects in living or sleeping quarters.

You are what you eat (or drink)

Almost 50% of travelers come home with diarrhea, but contaminated food and water can give you more than that.

♦ Only buy commercially packaged water bottles and soft drinks.  Be sure to break the seal yourself!

♦ Consider various water purification methods, such as filters and boiling.  Be wary of ice cubes, unless you know they’re made from purified water.

♦ Eat food that’s well cooked and served hot.

♦ Avoid leftovers, food from street vendors, unpasteurized dairy products, raw shellfish, cold cuts, salads, watermelon, puddings or canned food if the tin appears swollen.

♦ When it comes to fruits and vegetables: peel it, boil it, or forget it!

Give your trip a shot in the arm

Your best defense against many diseases is vaccination.  Before you step on the plane, you should step into a travel clinic to receive your recommended shots.

♦ Your destination country may require you to get certain shots.  That’s a great place to start!  However, these requirements are in place to protect the citizens of that country, not you.  To find out what shots you need to protect your health, visit a travel clinic.

♦ Some vaccines take time to work.  Schedule your appointment four to six weeks before you leave.  (Procrastinator alert: if you’ve got less than four weeks to go, it’s still worth it to make an appointment.  Some shots start to work much faster and even partial immunity is better than none!)

♦ Remember to include the price of vaccines in your budget.  Like travelers’ insurance, a little expense now can save you big bucks in health care costs later.

More tips!

If you found this article helpful, check us out on Facebook and Twitter for daily travel health tips.

Passport Health is a trusted name in travel medicine with over 200 locations across the United States.  We would love an opportunity to talk to you about your trip and provide any supplies or vaccines you may need to stay healthy.  Make an appointment today!

 

10 Steps to Knowing What Travel Immunizations You Need
Monday, May 28th, 2012

A major consideration when planning a career break or other extended travel through multiple countries is getting the appropriate vaccinations and pills.  Not only is maintaining your health one of the most important elements while abroad, but some countries require certain vaccinations in order to qualify for an entry visa.  The problem is, when we started researching the requirements, we were easily lost in a myriad of information which was sometimes contradictory.

Here, we share our 10 steps to a better immunization experience!

Step 1: Start early.  Certain vaccinations come in a series that may take 4-6 months to complete.

Step 2: Prepare a list of potential destinations.

Step 3: Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and locate the Traveler’s Health section.   There are 3 categories of vaccinations: Routine, Required, and Recommended.  Routine vaccinations include childhood immunizations.  There are only a few Required vaccinations necessary for entry into certain countries or to obtain a visa.  Most of the time, the choice to be vaccinated is ultimately up to you, which are listed under the Recommended section.

Step 4: Go to a Passport and Visa Services website such as www.visahq.com and research visa immunization requirements by destination.  This may be different than what the CDC states.  For example, Brazil is listed by the CDC as a country where yellow fever risk is present, but a vaccination is not necessarily required for entry.  However, if your nationality requires a visa to enter Brazil, and you are coming from a yellow fever risk country, you will need a yellow fever vaccination as a visa requirement.

Step 5: Gather your immunization history, such as your childhood immunization records.  Questions that may be asked when getting your immunizations include: the last date of your tetanus shot, whether you received a Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccination and booster, whether you’ve had chickenpox or not, etc.

Step 6: Schedule a consultation with a travel immunization clinic or specialist.  We scheduled a consultation due to the complexity of our travel itinerary.  The very thorough and informative 1.5 to 2 hour consultation cost $150 for the both of us.   Overall, it was a highly productive meeting to have a consultant break down 300 pages of travel documents into information we could use.  The consultant also gave us prescriptions for antibiotics, altitude sickness, and malaria, should we choose to fill them.

Step 7: Based on the information collected, make decisions on what immunizations and prescriptions you want/need.  This is the hard part.  Fortunately, many recommended vaccines overlapped between South America and Asia.  These included the Hepatitis A and B series, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis.  We decided to go with all of the recommended vaccines because (1) we could afford it (2) mosquitoes love Akiko and many of the disease are mosquito-borne, and (3) the potential consequences of some of the diseases are severe.

Pills were recommended for malaria, altitude sickness, and antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea.   None of the malaria pill options were ideal due to side effects and/or cost, but while we were mulling it over, we discovered that the newest medication, Malarone, was now available in generic form, reducing our out-of-pocket cost substantially.  Yellow Fever ended up being the only required vaccine for visa purposes.

Step 8: Research if medical insurance and prescription plans will cover part of the cost.  Depending on your existing health insurance and prescription plan, you may be able to get part of the cost covered.  We found we could update our routine vaccines (e.g. influenza, pneumococcal, chickenpox or varicella, polio, MMR, Td or Tdap, etc.) through our primary care physician for the copay cost.   We had our doctor re-write the prescriptions written by the travel immunization clinic so that our prescription plan would cover most of the cost.

Step 9: Map out a schedule on when immunizations need to be completed.  This will also help spread out the cost of some of the immunizations.   After all was said and done, all the prophylaxis cost upwards of $1,300 per person.

Step 10: Start somewhere.  Go get immunized and/or fill the prescriptions! 

Travel has always been their hobby, but recently, Mike Watkins and Akiko Kubo decided to “cash-in” on their dreams of taking a career break to travel around the globe after seeing close friends’ and family’s lives end too soon.  To avoid wondering what might have been, they are downsizing their comfortable lives into a backpack, and making way for opportunities undiscovered.  Follow their 8-month, round-the-world, adventures  on www.travelsabbatical.com or on Facebook.

Traveling with Medications
Monday, October 11th, 2010

A valid concern when traveling is the thought of  getting sick. But what if you already live with a chronic condition – one that requires you to be continually on medication? Should that prevent you from following your extended travel dreams? Jenny Leonard of Where Is Jenny? shares tips on how she is able to travel long-term while on medication.

[singlepic=1885,350,,,right]I started my location independent graphic design business straight out of college so that I could pursue my dreams in whatever way I wanted to at any given time. For a while it was racing competitive motocross (2000-2003), then it was volunteering in Vanuatu (2006), then backpacking South America (2008-2009), and now I’m going to sell everything I own to travel indefinitely (Jan 2011). My business was less than a year old in 2003 when I was involved in a serious car accident. After several surgeries, procedures, and years of physical therapy I finally found a doctor whom worked closely with me to find a solution. As a result I attend pain management every month and take a cocktail of medications daily (including Schedule II narcotics) to alleviate my symptoms.

Medication and medical care is easy to take care of if you live in one place and see the same doctor every month. It quickly becomes tricky when you hit the road for an extended or open-ended period of time. I’ve found it very difficult to find good information on the web surrounding this topic so I’m going to detail how I’ve addressed traveling around the world for extended periods of time with prescription medication.

FIND THE RIGHT DOCTOR
The most important link that helps make extended travel even an option for me is my doctor. My doctor understands that the decisions I make in life are mine and that only I can make risk assessment choices, not him. Therefore, he doesn’t sit around and lecture me on how skateboarding will make my injury worse, but rather helps me continue doing an activity that makes me happy. If your doctor is giving you a hard time about what you’re doing in life whether it’s skateboarding or traveling the world, shop around. It took visiting dozens of doctors before I found one that I’m thrilled with. I found many to be traditional, conservative, and judgmental towards my unconventional life. They also didn’t give me the treatment I deserved because of it. The doctor’s job is to support and give you the tools and resources you need to live the life you want to live. Don’t settle for less.

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Health Insurance for American Travelers
Monday, February 8th, 2010

[singlepic=1668,250,,,right]There are many fun steps in preparing for your career break travels, and planning for health insurance issues is not one of them. However, it is probably the most important issue you should pay attention to, especially for Americans.

Keith and Amy Sutter have successfully made the transition from briefcase to backpack. They are currently traveling the world while documenting efforts in environmental sustainability on their blog, Green Around The Globe. They share with us how Americans must navigate a complex process to get health insurance while traveling around the globe.

Second only to our salaries, health insurance was the most valuable component of our employer-provided compensation before we made the leap from briefcase to backpack. Walking away from the relative simplicity of employer-provided health benefits was fraught with forms, confusion and seemingly endless options. Tempting as it was, throwing our hands up and foregoing health coverage was not an option. Going without health insurance seemed riskier than riding a motorbike through downtown Hanoi at rush hour blindfolded, not something either of us want to do. By detailing our experiences throughout the process of obtaining health insurance coverage for our career break we hope to share what we learned and make the process a bit easier for you.

Private health insurance in the United States is a quagmire of benefit statements and long medical history applications. We quickly found this out when we began researching our options. As this was the first time we would not have employer or university-provided group health benefits, we had to start from scratch. We quickly discovered the world of travel insurance.

TRAVEL INSURANCE
There are many reputable travel insurance companies out there that offer great coverage while traveling abroad. As an American, however, you must keep in mind that most of these plans will not cover you within the United States and many of these plans are not recognized as “creditable.” “Creditable coverage” is defined quite broadly and includes nearly all U.S. group and individual health plans. But despite the broad definition nearly all travel insurance is NOT deemed creditable coverage. One notable exception is HTH Worldwide’s Global Citizen, which is underwritten by A-rated insurance companies licensed by each State’s department of insurance as admitted carriers. The trick here is that depending on what state you live in you may need to go through underwriting in order to obtain coverage.

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