Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series- Part Four: Important insurance considerations when Going out of state/country

July 3, 2014

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Happy Thursday y'all!! I am so excited to continue this six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. Here is the list of the topics for the series and the coming weeks:

Today I want to talk with y'all about some general but important insurance considerations when you have to go out of state or country to see a doctor. I am hoping that some of the things that I have learned the last couple of years might help someone and also I am excited to hear from y'all who have experience with this! (Side note: No offense to any of my doctors but since NONE of them have ever looked like this guy maybe I should look at the insurance agents? Hahaha! *smiles* This single gal can dream right? *smiles*)

So last week when I talked about the expenses that should be considered when traveling out of state or country to see a doctor one of the things that I mentioned was the reality that some things vary when you travel with your insurance. Here are some tips to help (hopefully!) navigate these tricky waters!

(one) Understand your policy and what is included and what is not included in it. In this scenario no knowledge is not a good thing. You want to have ALL of the facts in front of you before you even think of going out of state or country. I have heard so many horror stories of people who didn't do their research ahead of time and then went into extreme debt or even bankruptcy because they were not sure what their policies included and just "hoped for the best". Read through your policy and any questions that you don't have answers to or anything that needs clarifying spend the time to talk with someone about it! Talk with your insurance companies ahead of time and get ALL of your answers.

(two) Understand what your doctor (or hospital) will accept and will not accept when dealing with your insurance. What many people don't know is that doctors do have a right to determine whether or not they will accept insurance or not (and if they don't - what their set fees are can be determined by them also). For my current Lyme doctor they do not accept insurance but do provide me with all of the paperwork so that I can submit the paperwork afterwards to my insurance company to hopefully be reimbursed for my appointments. (This means that I pay for all of my phone consultations, appointments, and in person appointments up front and then hope to receive some benefits back. Just so y'all are aware this can sometimes not have any "turn around" affect. I have yet to receive a penny for any appointment with my doctor from my insurance company.) This is really important to understand also because you could potentially be writing a large check from the get go and you need to be prepared for that. (Just as a side note- be prepared that this might be a very large amount out of pocket. As a little picture- my phone consultations range from $180 to $300 dollars and my in person appointments can be as much as $650.)

(three) Understand how phone consultations fit into your policy. If you are going to need additional phone consultations (like I do) then be aware that these are not always included in your plan. 

(fourUnderstand that you will be spending more money then if you stay in state or country. As I mentioned above the cost to go out of state or country (with just the doctor) can be extremely expensive. Often times this is just the only option (like I have) and this will cost a lot of money. While this article HERE focuses on a hospital stay it shares an all too common story of traveling to get the health care that you need and the costs associated with it. 

(fiveUnderstand how you will be billed: in-network or out-of-network. This can definitely make a difference in how much money that you will be paying. HERE is a great article that shares the difference between the two (in nice layman's terms! *smiles*). 

(sixTraveling Abroad? Understand "Medical Tourism". "Medical Tourism" is a term that some companies now consider as part of their insurance packages. This term means that you can travel to receive medical care. This article HERE discusses a little bit about this.

(seven) Traveling Abroad? These articles can give you some great ideas and tips on health insurance! Most of these articles are general but there can be some great tips! Just click HERE, HERE, or HERE!

Thanks so much for reading y'all! At the end of the day the most important thing that you can do is take the time to understand your coverage and what options you have. I hope that this series will be a help to you or a friend! If you have experience with insurance and of traveling to see a doctor who is out of state or country could you share in the comments your ideas? I would love to learn new ideas and thoughts! Also I am so excited that Next Thursday to have a guest post sharing about their experiences!!!! Happy Thursday y'all! 

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