Regardless of whether you are traveling abroad for business, or commuting to work in your own hometown, the possibility of a medical emergency is ever-present. These unforeseen life-events can not only be frightening and traumatic, but financially crippling as well.
In order to protect themselves financially from the expenses of such events, many people purchase insurance policies. The most widespread form of protection from medical expenses are standard health insurance policies.
These policies provide an array of coverage options ranging from regular doctor visits and emergency services to prescription fees and medical imaging. The specific extent and scope of the policies coverage will normally relate closely to its price, but in most cases, will not apply if you are overseas.
When traveling internationally, many people take out short term travel insurance policies which protect them from a range of travel-related disasters. Many travel insurance plans do have coverage options related to medical expenses, but they may also cover things like lost luggage, and missed flights as well.
Typical travel insurance plans will help cover medical transport to an appropriate care facility, and coordinate the payment of the various responders. It is important to note that most of these types of policies will only cover transportation to adequate, reasonably nearby medical facilities.
It is not common for travel insurance policies to cover transportation to your preferred treatment location; and rarer still to find policies which cover international medical evacuation, or repatriation. For these reasons, many companies exist to provide rescue and medical evacuation services specifically.
While policies obtained through these companies often lack the broad range of protections offered by actual travel policies, their focus on remote search and rescue, medical transport and evacuation make them good options for those whose travels take them beyond the reach of conventional help.
When considering whether or not to purchase medical evacuation insurance, you may find it beneficial to closely review what coverages you may already have, either through health insurance, or travel insurance. It is possible that some of the higher end policies may provide some of the same services as the evacuation-oriented companies.
Additionally, and is goes without saying, that the specific range of coverage you need also depends on where you intend to be, what you plan to do there, and how confident you are in a safe return. If you are not planning on venturing far from cities or public streets, buying a policy which covers search and rescue may not make sense; a simple travel insurance policy should cover any needed medical transport, and pay you back if you lose your luggage.
On the other hand, if you intend to wander off the beaten path, either domestically or internationally, making sure that your plan covers remote rescue and medical evacuation is critical.
If you require a search and rescue team, and a medivac from remote wildlands even here the USA, the costs can be staggering. Those costs tend to increase greatly when you are out of the country. Therefore, if you think you will be more likely to get stuck on a mountainside than to lose your baggage, obtaining medical evacuation insurance may be a good move.
The benefit of purchasing short-term, ad hoc medical evacuation policies is that they can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Most of them coordinate your medical care (and payment therefore) from the point of rescue, to when you are discharged from the hospital of your choosing.