"What If"..? Does My Health Insurance Cover Me During Holidays?
4th May 2022
We don’t always think about it before going on holiday. But we’ve all heard bad stories from friends or colleagues before so YES it’s best to make sure you have health insurance coverage before you start a trip. Knowing you are well covered will give you extra peace of mind to fully relax and enjoy your holidays. Here are 5 things to consider before you go, from the Alea team.
1. Check your existing health insurance
The very first thing to do is to check your current health insurance plan. Living in Hong Kong, you probably already have one, either personally or through your employer or both. So before you go on holiday, take a look at your policy to check whether you are covered outside of Hong Kong.
If you are covered through a group policy (work coverage):
First of all, it is important to know if you are under a local or international plan. Some local plans do not cover travel, whereas most international plans cover you worldwide.
If you are traveling to the USA, keep in mind that this country is likely excluded from your insurance plan or under specific conditions — as it is the most expensive country in the world for healthcare.
Another thing to pay attention to is the payment process. Most local group policies do not provide direct billing/guarantee of payments outside of Hong Kong and this entails that you must pay your medical bills upfront and claim reimbursements after. This can be financially challenging if you are hospitalized abroad for urgent reasons as the fees will likely be very high.
If you have personal medical insurance (individual coverage):
Similarly, as for work coverage, it is important to know if you are under a local or international plan. This will have an impact on the area and nature of coverage.
While most local plans will only cover you for accidents and medical emergencies, international plans can cover you for non-medical emergencies.
Plus, there may be a travel time limit. For example, some policies cover health-related expenses overseas for stays no longer than 3 months.
2. Should I get travel insurance?
If you feel that your current health insurance doesn't cover you well abroad, you may think about buying travel insurance. This type of insurance is twofold: it covers health expenses as well as travel-related ones such as theft, loss of personal belongings, travel delays and personal liability.
You can either purchase a "Single Trip Travel Insurance" or an "Annual Travel Insurance". The first one usually covers you for a single journey no longer than 180 days (6 months) and the second one will cover you all year long for trips no longer than 90 days (3 months) each.
Advantages of buying travel insurance:
It is flexible and cheap. Indeed you can buy it for a limited amount of time which will cost you only a small fraction of your international plan. The other advantage is that it covers both health and travel expenses. Whether you have good medical insurance or not, everyone should get travel insurance for its non-medical protection: theft, loss of personal belongings, travel delays and personal liability.
Disadvantages of buying travel insurance:
Travel insurance covers medical emergencies only, as a result of an accident or sickness during you stay abroad. It will not cover medical expenses related to any pre-existing conditions. It mainly excludes pregnancy, chronic conditions and long term treatment of serious illnesses such as hypertension, heart conditions, etc.
3. Evacuation and repatriation
Evacuation and repatriation are not always included in health international plans. However, this benefit is usually cheap and worth having.
The perks of having such a safety net is that your insurer will take care of all the logistics surrounding your travel back to your country of residence (or country of nationality), which can be extremely complex and costly.
For instance, if you broke your leg and you need to keep it straight at all times, your insurer will make sure that you travel in business class and will take care of related expenses.
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4. Expert tips to remember
(1) Have your Insurance card with you.
You should always carry the card with you. It has the emergency number you can call if you need assistance, as well as your insurance member number. If you don't want to take your card with you, make sure to have at least a picture of it in your phone (tried and tested by the Alea team). You can also send it to yourself by email so you can access it at all times, via any computer or phone.
(2) Know your benefits. As explained above, take a moment to check your benefits before going on holiday so you know what to expect in case of an emergency. It’s worth doing, trust us.
(3) Have a declaration form with you. Insurers usually ask for doctors or clinics to fill a declaration form stating your condition, in order to process the claim later. Having it with you will avoid the stress of having to look for it and print it in a rush.
Hope you found it useful. Now relax and enjoy your holidays!
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This article was independently written by Alea and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should never be relied upon for specific advice.