Medical emergencies can often put a damper on your trip and lead to significant out-of-pocket expenses without travel insurance. That’s why it’s essential to be prepared and take proactive steps to avoid hefty medical bills while travelling.
In this blog, we answer questions about how travel medical insurance works and who covers the bills if you need emergency medical care on a trip. Read on to learn more.
What are out-of-pocket expenses?
Out-of-pocket expenses are any up-front payments a medical facility or doctor’s office could charge you for treatment, along with any unexpected costs or purchases you have to make due to a travel mishap.
Different Examples of Out-of-pocket Expenses
|Medical out-of-pocket expenses||Non-medical out-of-pocket expenses|
|Prescription drugs||Telephone calls and Internet charges|
|Labs or tests||Extra hotel/accommodation nights, etc.|
|Crutches||Sundry items (toiletries, clothes, personal care)|
What are out-of-pocket benefits? How will these help me?
When purchasing travel insurance, it’s important to review your policy and see how it covers reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses that may come up while travelling.
For example, if your travelling companion is hospitalized the day you were both supposed to fly home and you purchased TuGo’s Emergency Medical Insurance beforehand, your additional hotel accommodation and meals would be covered up to your Out-of-Pocket Expenses benefit limit.
Tip: Remember that the coverage amounts and out-of-pocket benefits of any travel insurance plan depend on the plan and provider, so be sure to check your policy and coverage!
Which TuGo® Travel Insurance plans/products cover out-of-pocket costs?
|Emergency Medical Insurance||You’re covered (up to a certain limit) for medical expenses and other reasonable costs if you require emergency medical treatment.|
|Visitors to Canada||Same as above, but with different coverage limits.|
|Trip Interruption Insurance||After you’ve left for your trip, you’re covered for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses like transportation, meals, Internet use, taxis, etc., up to a certain amount.|
|Optional Baggage Insurance Coverage||If your luggage is delayed more than 12 hours, you’ll be covered for out-of-pocket sundry items you have to buy to tide you over (underwear, toothbrush, etc.), up to the benefit limit.|
TuGo tries to make sure that travellers are not paying out of pocket. How do we do this?
In many cases, TuGo can work directly with the medical service provider (hospital, clinic, etc.) to pay them right away and avoid you having to charge your credit card or pay in cash while you’re away from home. However, most destinations outside of North America may not offer direct billing.
We have a network of preferred providers we work with, from numerous hospitals, clinics, and other health providers that take care of the bills on our end. TuGo pays for any medical bills and hospital visits directly, whenever possible, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket or up-front!
Why do some hospitals ask for up-front payment and not others?
Most hospitals in the US have frequent visits from Canadian travellers and readily accept and bill travel medical insurance companies. However, some hospitals may take a deposit (your ‘out-of-pocket’ cost) at the time of treatment to protect themselves, in case the bills are solely the patient’s responsibility. This is a common practice for hospitals in Mexico and around the world.
If a claim is denied, these hospitals have limited options to recover money when a traveller is already home. So, the hospitals usually ask for a guarantee either directly with the insurer or a local assistance company. Claims at TuGo contracts with reputable assistance companies globally to minimize the chance that a traveller will have to pay upfront.
Why can’t my travel insurance always deal with the hospital directly?
In some instances, due to remote locations, or hospitals unfamiliar with working with a Canadian insurance provider, the traveller might have to pay upfront, out-of-pocket.
If this is the case, open a claim right away, and send in your signed claim forms with any original, itemized bills and receipts. This will speed up your reimbursement.
Tip: It would be tough for any insurance company to guarantee 100% ‘no out of pocket expenses.’ So, if you’re shopping around, and your insurance provider promises you’ll never have to pay out-of-pocket, take a closer look at the policy itself!
If you do have to claim your out-of-pocket expenses, here are some tips for a smoother travel medical insurance claim! We answer more of your travel medical insurance claims related questions in our FAQs.
Hopefully, this blog gave you more information on what to expect when dealing with paying expenses out-of-pocket for a medical emergency. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for freshness and/or accuracy.