You’ve bought your Frommer’s guide for your destination, your passport is in perfect order, and your iPod is loaded for your flight. There is just one important thing that you’ve overlooked. You haven’t purchased health insurance for your time abroad. And, although it may not seem like it right now–that is much more pressing than downloading your favorite tunes.
If you are new to the world of health insurance policies, here are a few things you should know.
The vast majority of educational institutions require you to have health insurance before you can embark on your Study Abroad experience. Some may also insist that you are covered for evacuation insurance as well. According to the University of Texas at Austin’s Study Abroad site, the University requires all students participating in their Study Abroad program to have appropriate health coverage for the duration of their time out of the country, and that the only exemption is for students who have a “current citizenship in their destination country” and a passport issued to them from said nation. In order to avoid being left behind on the tarmac, you had better investigate your college or university’s policy.
Most domestic health insurance policies do not offer full coverage when you are out of the United States. According to U.S. Passport and International Travel’s “Your Health Abroad,” some plans will pay “customary and reasonable hospital costs abroad, but very few will pay medical evacuation back to the United States.” If yours does, be sure to have your policy card on you at all times, plus a blank claim form. And, if you rely on Medicare for your health care coverage, you will not be covered at all during your out-of-country stay.
“What Does Student Health Insurance Cover?” states that one of the most commonly underinsured groups in America is college students–choosing to either go without or opting for the cheapest coverage possible. The decision to forgo travel health insurance could prove costly as a medical evacuation could wind up costing you tens of thousands of dollars.
If you have a health insurance policy, you may wish to check with your current provider to see what types of travel health insurance they offer. You can also check out the wide variety of companies that sell this type of policy online.
You may even find that your college or university offers an affordable international insurance plan to students who are taking part in their Study Abroad program. Be sure to investigate this possibility as it is often the most affordable route.
While purchasing an International Health Plan is an important first step towards safe-guarding your health and your finances, there are a few other things that you should do before you go as well.
There. You can tick “get travel health insurance” off your long list of things to do. So insert those earbuds and start reading your Frommer’s guide, secure in the knowledge that your financial future and your physical health are protected.
What else should a student know about health insurance before studying abroad?
Kimberley Laws is a regular contributor to HowDoYou.com and the author of two blogs, The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss. A "Jill of all trades," she is a High School English Teacher and Certified Career Counselor with a background in makeup artistry, retail banking, and graphic design. She is also a scrapbooking, PEZ-collecting, car enthusiast who loves travelling and New York City.
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