American Visitors Insurance versus Foreign Plans

By: Ray Sondeo

The many companies that offer visitor health insurance plans contain benefits that Americans expect to find within a health insurance policy. For this reason, it is believed that the United States offers a superior visitors medical insurance system when compared to other countries.
Most American companies that offer visitor health insurance have been in business for quite a long time. Letter-grade ratings are earned by these companies based upon their respective financial health. Conversely, foreign companies may be very new and receive no independent ratings from a comparable system. It can become a problem when U.S. providers are unfamiliar with the terms of foreign insurance policies.
American visitors insurance policies are connected to a PPO network. PPO is a preferred provider organization, and it is a network of contract hospitals, doctors and providers. This network allows providers to be billed directly. In other countries, insurance companies may promise that the insurance policy will be accepted everywhere. Whether or not hospitals and doctors choose to accept it is another matter entirely. Without accountability, one takes a risk with foreign insurance companies.
Insurance cards are issued to customers who hold a visitors medical insurance plan through an American company. Doctors' offices will typically request a copy of this card upon entry. Foreign visitor insurance companies don't always issue an insurance identification card, presenting problems in paying for services. Without a card, most providers won't be willing to bill a company overseas.
In American insurance companies, customers can choose a fixed rate or comprehensive policy based upon which best suits their needs. Other countries' policies have age restrictions and many don't insure seniors over 70 years. Many countries also do not have a legal system to reign in insurance companies.
When billing disputes arise and insurance companies fail to meet their financial obligations to doctors or patients, the US system allows for the filing of grievances to regulators. Many nations lack this regulatory recourse.
Travelers should remember that price is not the only factor to consider when shopping for insurance for visitors. When comparing U.S. company rates to foreign company rates, the customer will typically receive the level of coverage and service they pay for.
It is quite apparent that visitor travel insurance is important to have. One should take great care in evaluating the differences between American and foreign companies. U.S. based insurance companies offer the best of services with guarantees of payment. This kind of security cannot be found in many foreign insurance companies.

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Ray Sondeo frequently writes about insurance for international travelers and visitors.

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