Many of my friends who are bringing their parents of relatives over to USA ask me this question.
“Hey, the ticket booking guys suggested we get a travel insurance. Should I really get it? Isn’t it expensive?”
I see what you’re saying. Back in those days when I was visiting USA (before I move here) for business purposes, I was confused about the same question.
Why don’t I just save money and not buy traveler’s insurance? I am going to be ok.
Boy, I was wrong. I was fortunate enough to be medically ok and not get into any medical emergencies during my visit but a friend of mine who brought her grand parents had tough time.
Her grand parents were totally healthy, and were visiting USA for few months. And they did the usual thing. Visit Disney Land, road trips etc. But then the unfortunate happened.
Her grand father had a minor slip-and-fall accident. Fortunately, it wasn’t life threatening or anything but it was something.
She hadn’t thought about getting visitor’s insurance because one, it was expensive and two, her grant parents were doing ok.
She took her grand father to the hospital and that’s when things got out of hand.
Medical treatment in USA is expensive! (even for small things)
India is a blessed in that respect! You can go to any Doctor you wish, what ever time you wish. No questions asked. If you don’t like the Doctor, you can change them too. No problem at all.
Problem is, in USA the medical care system is very different. People pay a very high premium on their monthly salary to pay for medical coverage and if you fall ill, then your options are pretty much dictated by the system. I mean, it’s a great system. As in you have the best treatment, great devices, a wide network of qualified Doctors.
But you can’t just go to any Doctor you like. Your network (insurance company you are with) will assign a Doctor to you and you will have to visit them only. If the Doctor is busy, you have to get an appointment and visit only when he/she is available. And that also means that sometimes, you have to wait even when you are sick. And once you visit the Doctor, based on what he recommends, the insurance company will pay the bills. (There are rules and exceptions here and it depends on what plan you are on).
In my experience, medical costs are exorbitantly high (compared to India), and even though the insurance company will pay most part of it (provided you are on a good plan), the rates are very high. For example, a dental cleaning procedure can run to thousands of Dollars!
But you also have emergency treatment. For example, if you meet with a minor accident, you will be taken to urgent medical care. These will most of the time be hospitals outside of your network (supported by your insurance plan). And that’s when things can escalate quickly. Even minor medical procedures can run in to thousands.
According to American College of Emergency Physicians…
The major categories on emergency department bills include professional services (physicians), pharmacy, supply, ancillary (laboratory, radiology), and miscellaneous. The fee for an emergency physician’s services on a medical bill typically is about 20-25 percent of the total charges for a visit. The hospital fees make up the difference.
Medical insurance for visitors from India
So, if you are visiting the USA, chances are that you will be completely OK and nothing unfortunate will happen. But should something minor happen, then it will cost you a lot of money. Instead of taking that risk, it’s better to get insurance.
Fortunately, Medical insurance for traveling visitors is cheap these days. You can get a traveler’s insurance from as cheap as $20 onwards.