If you’re traveling in the U.S., where you go and what type of facility you seek care from will affect how big your bill is when you get home. Many places will be considered out-of-network, but you may be able to find in-network care if you plan ahead. When you’re abroad, things get a bit more complicated.
Here are some general tips when traveling:
- Keep your insurance card in your wallet.
- Bring a list of any medications you’re on.
- Make sure you have a healthy supply of the medications you’re on. You may be able to ask your doctor for a “vacation override” to pick up your prescription ahead of time.
- Know what your insurance covers, and check for in-network facilities where you’re traveling.
- See if your doctor offers telehealth services, like a video consultation.
Beyond that, here’s what to keep in mind.
When You’re Traveling to a Different State
If you’re in the U.S. and you have a medical emergency, your insurance should cover your trip to the ER regardless of where you are, according to Consumer Reports. “Under the Affordable Care Act, if you need emergency care, your co-pay or co-insurance cannot be higher than your in-network rate, even at out-of-network hospitals,” CR reports.
That said, you should be careful—some insurers, like Anthem, have said they can deny claims that don’t match their definition of an “emergency.” And others levy expensive co-pays on ER visits, which could put you in trouble if you have a high-deductible health plan. And the ambulance ride to the hospital can also cost you big.
You’ll also want to be aware that many physicians in ERs are contractors, meaning even if you go to an in-network hospital, they could be considered out-of-network. Then you’ll have a huge bill to deal with. A non-emergency visit could end up costing you too, if it’s billed out-of-network. Walk-in clinics and urgent care centers could be viable alternatives, if you can find one—often, wait times are lower and you’ll pay a co-pay similar to a doctor’s visit.
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