Prior to embarking on our one year around the world adventure, we had a lot on our minds.
Building an itinerary, securing flights, obtaining visas, getting the family vaccinated, packing, renting out our house and our cars, and all the other odds and ends that are part of leaving your life behind for a year.
As an American citizen, this, unfortunately, meant we also had to give up our employer-sponsored health insurance.
The American healthcare landscape is incredibly convoluted. Most Americans are unaware that they are not covered for medical expenses while traveling until they are face up on a gurney in a makeshift ER with several well-intentioned foreign medical staff requesting payment for services in a language they do not understand. Of course, this is also happening while you or a loved one is injured.
Some countries have a highly developed national health system that covers everyone who sets foot on their land (we thank you from the bottom of our hearts). But many, especially in South East Asia (where we spent a lot of our time) along with other developing countries, have only the most basic resources.
Some hospitals and clinics require cash payment upon arrival often before they perform an emergent procedure.
There is very little in the form of emergency medical services as well. Something I witness several times on our trip. Both involved backcountry moped accidents. In Bali, the locals refused to touch a severely injured child because of his exposed blood. Luckily two Balinese men ignored local customs and lifted the child into the back of their pickup and took him to a local hospital. There was a lot of fighting among the locals who refused to place the child on their front lawn. To this day I wonder if the child survived the incident.
Most travel health insurance plans will not cover injury and illness for a United States Citizen while you are on American soil. I don’t blame them when the cost of a CT scan in an ER can be well over $8,000. Why should they?
Even if you are one of the lucky ones to have kept your employer-based health insurance while you are away, you should still purchase a separate travel health insurance plan. I would never trust a US health insurance policy to cover me overseas.
When we left our jobs, there was a “lag time” from the time we quit until we left US soil and our travel health insurance would kick in. To solve this problem we signed up for a month of COBRA extension to insure our family before we left. Because you don’t have to pay for COBRA until after the end of the first month, this is a nice way to cover a family for free. Simply sign up for the COBRA, and if you leave before the end of the first 30 day period you can simply cancel the plan… no payment necessary. If you end up having to use it, simply pay the premium. This is a wonderful insurance policy, and I would encourage everyone reading this to never let their health insurance lapse even for a day prior to travel. You just never know what the future holds.
As a physician assistant in the US, I have seen a lot of bad things happen to good people who were either uninsured or unknowingly very poorly insured. Every 4 minutes in the US somebody has to declare bankruptcy due to an unexpected medical bill. Nothing ruins a trip (or your life) more than such an event. And it is easily preventable.
So it is important that you purchase an all-inclusive policy that covers all the situations you and your family could encounter while traveling.
Here are my coverage requirements:
Affordable Emergency Overseas Medical & Dental Expenses for our entire family.
Emergency Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
Trip Cancellation or Interruption
24-Hour Assistance Services
Coverage for scuba diving, mountain biking, surfing, bungee jumping, and skiing
I compared many health and travel insurance plans. Some plans covered baggage and trip cancellation only, others offered medical coverage but would only cover in certain situations, many left out action sports such as scuba diving or bungee jumping or accidents while driving a moped or other rental vehicle. Many plans were very expensive, especially when attempting to cover a family of four.
My search stopped when I found the World Nomads Insurance Policy which included all three types of insurance wrapped into one very affordable package: travel insurance, travel health insurance, and medical evacuation insurance.
We purchased the plan, placed a copy of our policy in a Dropbox file accessible from our phones and forgot about it.
While traveling to Vietnam we had to put World Nomads to the test. I can guarantee that this is the single best travel plan available on the market both for individuals and for families. They saved our trip and more importantly, they saved my wife’s life.
Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com
They do what they say:WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great coverage, 24-hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most. Within hours of our emergency call, World Nomads had my wife on a private Cessna with skilled health professionals flying from Danang Vietnam to Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand where she received world-class care.
A price you can afford: By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are extremely competitive. The best I found when it comes to price and flexibility.
Easily Extend Your Current Plan: Because we didn’t know exactly how long we would be traveling we purchased our plan in six-month increments. With World Nomads you can buy more coverage or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already traveling.
It is cheaper if you purchase your plan in six months increments and extend as needed.
$100,000 of medical coverage is included per person and is more than enough outside the United States.
My wife’s emergency transport from Vietnam via Cessna cost over $20,000 – fully paid for by World Nomads.
World Nomads covered the cost of our family’s hotel stays, food and extended lodging in Bangkok where we stayed for three weeks during my wife’s recovery.
World Nomads was our only insurance while traveling. We even used it for minor events, and it was so easy. From a $75 office visit to the doctor for my son in Australia, a $400 dent in a rental car in South Africa, a $40 ear cleaning in Thailand and a $30,000 moped accident in Vietnam; World Nomads was there.
As a US citizen, I have spent countless hours fighting health insurance companies who deny claims and leave out the back door in a time of need. World Nomads was there when we needed them the most, and they gave us the confidence to move on with our travels.
It was easy to send claims via email and tracking the progress of claims was simple. Support was always just a phone call or email away.
An accident of a lifetime didn’t ruin our trip of a lifetime.
Don’t let it ruin yours. Purchase your travel health insurance plan from WorldNomads.com.
To teach our children the meaning of gratitude, to grow as a family through love, adventure, service community and of course travel.