Most travelers, when asked, will say that if they fall ill, or sustain a serious injury in a foreign country, they would prefer to be treated in a hospital they know and trust at home.
Yet many people, when faced with an accident or illness while traveling, find themselves stuck in a hospital far away – despite having medical evacuation benefits as part of their travel insurance policy. That’s because the medical evacuation coverage in most travel insurance, health insurance (and credit card travel benefits) only provides medical transport to the “nearest acceptable” hospital – the nearest facility capable of treating the illness or injury. Travelers are at the mercy of the insurance provider as to who determines what’s “acceptable”, and are typically required to stay at that facility until “recovered to the fullest extent possible” at that location. Definitely not an ideal treatment option for most travelers.
This is where air medical transport membership programs like Medjet come in. If a member is hospitalized, while traveling more than 150 miles from home, these types of programs arrange, and pay for, air medical transport back to a member’s home country hospital of choice. Transports are scheduled regardless of “acceptable facility” and “medical necessity” determinations – unlike insurance, if a hospitalized member wishes to be moved to their hospital at home, just because they want to go home, it’s covered.
In October, Medjet was the first and only program of its kind to announce that it would cover transport for COVID-19 for travel in Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the 48 contiguous United States, and Canada. If a member is COVID positive, the air ambulance is fitted with a special isolation pod for the transport.
Not being able to get to a home hospital of choice for treatment can present a myriad of issues to a traveler:
- Care that is unacceptable, and facilities that don’t meet the individual’s own standards;
- Language barriers can make treatment decisions difficult;
- Capping out on the travel insurance medical benefits, and dealing with out-of-pocket payments and claims with an unfamiliar insurer, can pose a financial risk;
- A $30,000 (domestic) to $180,000 (international) medical transport, to a facility at home, which the health or travel insurance company won’t cover, can also take a big bite out of someone’s savings.
Air Medical Transport Memberships are surprisingly affordable, with Medjet’s starting at $99. Annual programs can range between $295-$578. If you are transported, there are no claim forms or bills, no out-of-pocket expenses to seek reimbursements for, you pay only your initial membership fee and that’s it.
Many, like Medjet, have memberships that also add security and crisis response protection. Access to a 24/7 crisis response line for travel safety threats like violent crime, disappearance, natural disaster and terrorism, can provide extreme peace of mind.
Over 10 million travelers are hospitalized abroad each year, and COVID is still a top concern amongst travelers as hospitals reach capacity here in Puerto Vallarta and other places in Mexico. If the worst does happen, travelers and ex-pat homeowners will want to make sure to have the best options available to get themselves, or a loved one, back home.