The above statement is actually a very common thought for so many including myself from time to time. Let’s break this down.
Two issues here to consider, the non-emergency and emergency scenarios.
An expatriate with home country coverage may be able to arrange for a commercial flight home for a planned medical procedure (non-emergency like hernia surgery, hip replacement, disease, etc.) and it could go smoothly. All set, the traveler is only out the cost of a flight, bags, no biggie. Or things could go the other way, the costly way. Medical emergencies abroad are no fun and this is where things could get complicated without international medical insurance coverage (air ambulance is not medical insurance and does not pay for hospital bills).
In case of a medical emergency, one could be out not only the cost of an airplane ticket ( no 7 day advance ticket), but also emergency hospital charges, which could cost thousands upfront. The cost of a ticket home could easily equal the cost of an annual global medical plan with air ambulance (family of four, ages 6, 8, 39, 45 runs from $1200-$2400 a year depending on benefits, deductibles, etc). The main concern is when faced with an emergency abroad, one could be faced with large medical costs and require an air ambulance flight home.
Let’s say John S, who traveled with his buddy to Oaxaca, Mexico for a month-long trip and decided to blow off coverage thinking his domestic plan will simply cover all costs. John is involved in a car wreck on the road to the Zipilete. He requires immediate care to save his leg and possibly his life and is flown to Mexico City by Air Ambulance Company in Oaxaca City (after being taken to hospital by ambulance) for emergency surgery. John’s buddy, Steve, uses John’s credit card to pay a deposit and is required to pay all bills prior to the actual operation. John ends up paying over $65,000 for emergency flight, surgery on broken leg, hospital charges, etc. John returns to the USA two days later on Delta (had to purchase a new ticket). He finally makes it home and calls his domestic carrier only to find out that the charges are not covered because John should have been pre-authorized prior to any care abroad and turns out a broken leg is not “life threatening.” John is furious and out a ton of money even before his credit card interest of 12%. This story actually happened and could have prevented with a $185 medical & travel policy. You simply can not trust your home country insurance plan to cover around the world. Medicare in the States falls into this scernerio as well.
Most global insurance plans cost around $700 – $2800 a year (12 month renewable plan), depending on age, plan limits, and gender. Most Travel plans cost around $100-$300 a month. For those expats who do not require coverage in the USA and Hong Kong, you are looking at a 50% rate reduction, plus any Offshore Health Benefits discounts. – Robert Tillotson, consultant at Offshore Health Benefits
Do not take the risk, there are plans for every budget. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for answers. Never a charge.