We've all been there. Your client calls in a frenzy demanding to know what medical coverage, if any, he has for an upcoming trip abroad.
You've gotten this question before but you pause to answer. It's a complicated grey area because unlike the Affordable Care Act, there are almost no benefit standards attached to covering members overseas. The 10 Essential Health Benefits essentially go out the window once your client departs the United States.
The level of coverage and access to networks overseas varies among group, individual and government plans. And they vary markedly among insurance carriers. Further compounding the issue, length of travel and low lifetime limits can be a factor, particularly for Medicare supplemental policies.
So how do you provide a black and white answer in this grey area?
Practically speaking, U.S. domestic health insurers typically provide scant international medical coverage for globally mobile members. Plans customarily contract from comprehensive coverage to catastrophic only. Americans abroad often find themselves underinsured or not insured at all (e.g. your client moved to France and she is now no longer living, working or studying in the plan service area). Additionally, members can be left to their own devices to find medical professionals. Without access to vetted international providers, members relying on their domestic health insurance often have a poor patient experience due to limited understanding of the physician's accreditation and training, payment preferences or even what to expect upon arrival.
Domestic carriers are not all the same.
Blue Cross Blue Shield plans offer a suite of international health insurance solutions designed to meet the needs of globally mobile individuals worldwide. Most Blue Cross Blue Shield plans embed a free program called Blue Cross Blue Shield Core, formerly referred to as Bluecard Worldwide, which provides basic coverage and assistance.
In even better news, GeoBlue offers affordable extended coverage through travel health products that offer enhanced benefits, support, security and convenience for anyone planning trips abroad or living outside of the U.S. for an extended period. GeoBlue plans bridge coverage gaps and are engineered for international traveler needs. Your customers will receive concierge-level service to help them navigate different health systems across the globe.