Arizona expats face medical insurance requirements in emergency abroad

How could you cope with $52,000 coming out of your bank account all at once? International insurance experts are highlighting to people in Arizona the importance of obtaining coverage for medical emergencies on foreign soil before leaving the US.

In some countries such as Mexico, some private hospitals can deny care unless you can provide a deposit and can prove you can cover the cost of care.

The right sort of insurance coverage will enable you to obtain doctor visits, prescription medication, medical referrals and even a translator if needed.

Joe Cronin, President of International Citizens Insurance said: “Make sure you have the right kind of global medical coverage so you can relax and enjoy living or travelling overseas. Overseas health insurance is critical when planning your new life or journey and by purchasing the correct coverage you can rest assured you will have access to medical treatment if you need it.”

It’s useful to choose an insurance broker with a track record in this field. International Citizens Insurance’s overseas health insurance plans are all with A-rated carriers with 24-hour travel assistance to help you in your time of need.

Case study: Four years ago a couple moved to Mexico from USA, and had recently travelled to Thailand. The wife suddenly fell ill and struggled to breathe so they went to a hospital, where she had an X-ray and received antibiotics. Two days later her condition declined and they went back to the doctor who ran tests and found she had deep vein thrombosis. She had also developed an aggressive pneumonia which may have been due to a collision of Thai and Mexican influenza, so was rushed to intensive care, and but for new antibiotics, was minutes away from needing life support. Luckily she recovered, but required much homecare including oxygen and visiting therapists. She had been too ill to be medically evacuated to America. 

The total cost of the medical emergency was $52,000 - fortunately they had medical insurance. But on arrival at the hospital, they were asked for a deposit, and were told some private hospitals in Mexico can deny care if you cannot prove you can cover the cost of care. The husband was able to show his insurance card and a small amount was deducted from his account, and he notified his insurers who were able to provide guarantee they would cover the costs. Had they not had appropriate insurance the couple could have faced a bill of $52,000 coming out of their account at short notice.

When it comes to times of medical emergencies abroad, international health insurance policies with hospital coverage often have direct-billing agreements with many hospitals for claims. 

Due to the direct billing agreement, the claims process is almost non-existent as all administration occurs directly between the insurance company and the hospital. In this case, you do not need to pay upfront for the medical procedures (up to your policy limits).

However, sometimes customers opt for ‘out-of-network hospitals’ because they want to see a specific specialist or treatment will be cheaper than at the in-network hospital. Alternatively, they may suffer an accident or critical emergency and must go to the nearest hospital with no say on where they will receive medical attention.

In this case you should be able to file a claim to get your money back, but the claiming process is different. It involves obtaining a pre-authorisation form from your insurer, then showing your medical card and approval documents during admission at a hospital. 

With a pre-authorisation letter issued, usually no hospital deposit is needed. If you don’t have a pre-authorisation letter, you may be asked to pay a deposit, but can submit a claim form within 90 days of hospital discharge to your insurance company.

Joe Cronin, President of International Citizens Insurance said: “In our experience, securing a policy with an established international insurance company gives you access to a broader selection of in-network hospitals and clinics so you will not have to deal with hospital insurance claims.

“Not all plans are the same, but global insurance specialists such as us will guide you through the research and assist with the application process.”

Find out more about how hospital insurance claims abroad work here

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