Travelers need to pick a plan based on their medical history and travel needs.
By Chiranth Nataraj
This is not your domestic healthcare insurance because the latter safeguards you only in your home country and does not cover abroad.
Visitor insurance is of two types- Comprehensive and fixed benefits. Hence, travelers need to pick a plan based on their medical history and travel needs. The fixed benefits offer lesser protection, benefits with sub-limits and are less pricey than the comprehensive ones.
Are you confused between the two? This blog is going to state the difference between the two and clear your confusion.
Read: What does Visitor insurance cover? (November 8, 2021)
These plans offer limited and basic protection and leave the insured with a higher liability than a comprehensive plan. With such plans, every benefit is pre-defined, which means that if bills cross the predefined limits for each benefit, you need to pay the difference between these pre-defined amounts and the actual amount t out of pocket. Once the deductible has been met, the insurance company will pay these pre-defined amounts.
Some plans may cover acute onset of pre-existing conditions, and some do not. Although the plan does not mandate going to an in-network provider, it is always a good practice to opt for an in-network provider if available.
These Fixed benefit plans do not have any participating rates. The members are billed for their regular rates. They can visit any doctor or hospital they like and will receive an ID card that will have all the necessary information that the provider may need to bill the insurance company. If any provider declines to contact the company, the insured individuals can pay upfront and claim for reimbursement from the insurance company later.
The plans do not provide travel-related benefits like trip interruptions, baggage delay, emergency union, return of minor children, and more. Many covers acute onset of pre-existing conditions, but they come with some sub-limits. You may have to pay as per the scheduled benefits. Some of the popular limited plans are Visitors Care, Safe Travels Elite, Inbound USA, and Visitor Secure.
Read: Why is visitor health insurance recommended for travel to USA? (October 7, 2021)
The premium on these plans is a little higher than the Fixed benefit plans but offer extensive coverage and better protection than limited plans. There is a wide range of plans available as per travel and medical needs. For a covered illness/injury, these policies can provide coverage up to the chosen policy maximum after the deductible and coinsurance have been met.
Most of these plans follow a PPO network and network discounts are available if you choose to go to a network provider. However, these plans cover outside the network, as well, so you can rush to any provider you want. Inside the network, you will receive a discounted rate, whereas, outside the network, the plan may pay a slightly lower percentage and will not get the network negotiated rates benefit.
Optional riders for sports, evacuation, and other additional coverage can be purchased for an additional cost. Most of the comprehensive plans have the option to be renewed. Travel-related benefits are also available, such as loss or stolen baggage and belongings, trip interruption, emergency reunion, return of minor children, terrorism, and more.
Make sure you read the brochure for complete details. The comprehensive plan premiums are based on several factors from age, policy maximum, and deductible chosen and the number of days coverage is needed. The higher the age, policy maximum, and the number of days coverage is needed, the higher will be the premium. Typically, if you choose a higher deductible the premium will go down.
Many plans cover acute onset of pre-existing conditions, but it will come with deductible and coinsurance, just like any other new medical illness. Some of the popular comprehensive plans are Safe Travel USA Comprehensive, Patriot America Plus, Atlas Travel, Patriot Travel, and Liaison Travel.
Read: Indian travelers to US must get Visitor Insurance with Covid-19 cover (August 13, 2021)
Which plan to choose?
Choosing a plan is entirely your personal choice. If you are willing to take a higher financial and medical risk abroad, you can pick a policy with fixed or limited benefits. But if you wish to be financially secure and looking for medical and travel benefits, comprehensive plans can be your choice. Talk to your insurance provider, read the policy wordings, understand your travel needs, and then make a final decision.
(Chiranth Nataraj is the founder of Visitor Guard. He has more than two decades worth of experience in developing insurance and technology solutions.)