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Health Insurance on the Road

By someone who knows...

Yes, I admit it. I used to be one of those health insurance salesmen that people love to invite into their homes at night to discuss their health insurance needs. The best thing I can tell you, dear reader, is what to look for, and watch out for, when you get your own health insurance coverage. Remember, the best consumer is an educated one.

Of course, you can take your chances and go without health insurance coverage. When I got an ear infection when traveling in Honduras a few years ago, I went to the hospital and tried to communicate in the non-existent Spanish I knew at the time that I was in serious pain. They gave me some pills and I thought all was cool. And the pills didnít work, even when I added large quantities of rum to the mix. Eventually I realized that the pills were only an aspirin/Tylenol combination. So after sitting with my head in my hands, moaning, for two days, I went back to the hospital and got something real. Two trips to the hospital cost me a grand total of $6. That was highly lucky, and very unusual.

But a typical visit to the hospital is much much more expensive, especially in the U.S. If you have to stay overnight, it can easily average over $2000 per day. If youíre in a foreign country and something happens, you may even need to pay in advance, or risk no treatment at all. So basically Iím just stating the obvious, that going without health insurance coverage is a really stupid risk to take.

Chances are you already have health insurance, maybe through a current employer. Chances are, as well, that that wonít work for you on the road and youíll have to get health insurance coverage on your own.

Hereís what to look for when looking for health insurance coverage. Remember, most salespeople wonít volunteer this kind of information, unless it helps their cause. You gotta ask.

Make sure your health insurance coverage covers you outside the United States. Duh...

Make sure it gives you enough coverage outside the U.S. (at least $500,000 or $1,000,000)

Make sure it covers you if you get treatment in the United States. Many donít. Most of the policies that travelers I know have gotten are health insurance policies that cover you for no more than 30 days in the U.S. If you come down with something serious, where do you want the hospital that youíre staying in to be? A) the U.S. or, say, B) Lima. Trust me, the last place youíll want to be for an extended period is a foreign hospital.

Do your best to make sure your insurance companyís going to be in business if you ever need them, and provide the service you need. Check health insurance ratings, number of years in business, etc.

Sounds like a fun task, doesnít it? Lucky for you, Iíve done all the work for you:



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