Are you planning a trip to the United States?
You're going to have a great time exploring what our southern neighbor's country has to offer.
Unfortunately, as you may have heard, the United States doesn't have single payer health insurance. This extends not only to visitors but citizens of the US. That means that if you have an accident or are suddenly taken ill during your trip to the US, you'll be met with a huge bill upon release.
Even a trip to the emergency room for a broken bone could cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket. This is why we highly recommend you take out health insurance when visiting the USA.
We recommend that you do this even for short visits, such as day-long visits.
Read on for some of your options.
Medicare Does Not Pay for Issues You May Face in the United States
Some people may travel to the U.S. with the incorrect notion that the healthcare they have in Canada will pay for any accident, injury or illness they may sustain in the United States. This is not the case.
In fact, the government recommends that you get health insurance when visiting the United States, as they will often only pay out a fee of less than $50 CAD. If you break your arm in the U.S. and received medical care, which could amount to $8,000 or more for X-rays and any other medical intervention, the $50 CAD isn't going to make much of a difference.
Thus, you'll need private insurance.
In some instances, hospitals abroad have also refused care to Canadian patients who needed it, simply because they did not have the money or insurance to cover them. This could be a matter of life and death someday, so make sure you take it seriously.
Reviewing Your Policy
If you already have private health insurance, or your work offers you private health insurance, then check with your policy to see what they will cover. In some cases, they may pay for your time in the United States up to a select number of days.
They will not likely pay for you to live in the United States or to work there for a long-term period. If you relocate to the United States for work purposes, your job should provide you with some sort of insurance so that you're covered.
Make sure that your insurance extends to the United States. You should also make sure it covers any pre-existing conditions and that it covers the entirety of your trip. Without checking on all of these, you could find yourself having to fork out a huge chunk of change to the hospital for treatment.
Taking Out a New Insurance Policy
If your current insurance doesn't cover your time in the United States or doesn't cover the entire period, you'll need to take out another policy that does. There are many travel insurance companies to choose from who will help you pay if something goes awry.
As stated above, you need to ensure it covers any pre-existing conditions, lasts for the entirety of your trip and does not have exclusions.
Pre-Existing Conditions and Health Insurance When Visiting the USA
Just like many private insurers, it can be a little bit trickier to get health insurance for your pre-existing condition. This is because it is more likely that you'll have to use the insurance, and insurance companies aren't always keen to give policies to people who are more likely to need a payout.
Nevertheless, there are companies that will insure people with pre-existing conditions. It may be a bit more expensive than policies for people who do not have pre-existing conditions, but it's very much worth it.
If you do have a pre-existing condition, you'll need to have it in writing that the policy covers it while you're abroad. If, for example, you have multiple sclerosis (MS), and have to be hospitalized for something found to be related to your MS, your insurance company can decide to opt out of paying.
This goes without saying that this could leave you with a massive hospital bill.
As such, if there is a guarantee in writing, they cannot decide not to pay based on the diagnosis.
Check Travel Advisories
Always check travel advisories before you travel. Not only is this for your own safety, but because your insurance company can also render its policy null and void if you travel during a period they've deemed as an exclusion.
Many travel insurance companies will also refuse to honor injuries sustained during a war or other civil unrest.
While the United States is not necessarily at risk for something like this happening, it is still a good idea to check beforehand. The US is a big country, and diseases, outbreaks and civil unrest that may happen in one location may not affect your vacation in another.
Traveling abroad should be something that's fun and exciting. You shouldn't have to worry about paying off massive hospital bills for several years to come as a result of not being fully prepared.
Having health insurance when visiting the USA can cut down on the surprises and ensure that you and your family are ready for anything. Having peace of mind can make you have a better vacation.
If you're looking for health insurance to supplement your Medicare, and to cover your trip to the United States, have a look at some options here.