As the word of God is spread around the world, the need to reach those who are overseas has become more difficult. Missionaries encounter risks while traveling abroad and may need some form of medical assistance. Whether traveling for a short-term missions trip or planning on spending years overseas in a missions capacity health insurance coverage is almost a mandatory piece of your travel arrangements. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that your current domestic health insurance policy may not be valid beyond our country’s borders. And even if they are, most domestic carriers are usually poorly equipped to handle the special needs of foreign health care systems: language translation, foreign currency exchange; transportation to Western treatment centers and a variety of other cultural issues. Some form of an international medical insurance policy represents valuable protection for your missionaries and their families. A good international health insurance plan will typically contain benefits for hospitals, doctors, Rx, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, and more.
How do you find the right International Medical Insurance policy for your needs? Deciding which plan to buy depends on the missionaries’ personal needs, finances and travel itinerary. Decide what type of coverage will be best by answering the following questions:
What is the duration of the trip?
A longer trip will need to be dealt with in a more delicate fashion. If you or your mission organization plans on being away from their home country for an extended period of time (more than 1 year) than the more comprehensive your health coverage should be.
Where are you going?
Obviously, the more remote the location, the more importance you should place on features within your Insurance plan like Emergency Evacuation and Air Ambulance coverage. However, a visitor to a Northern European country should be more interested in the maximum benefits for hospitalization as evacuation would be a less likely course of treatment, etc.
What type of coverage does their current plan provide?
If they already have strong benefits at home, it is wise to double check what exactly is covered while they are out of the country. Most domestic US health plans limit coverage to a maximum of 30 or 60 days outside the states, and HMO’s and PPO’s will likely impose severe out of network penalties for all but the most basic emergency care. More importantly, they will want to insure that they have 24-hour access to emergency evacuation if they become sick or hurt in an area where quality care is not available. For those over 65, Medicare will not cover treatment outside the US.