Yes, this is a headache. Comparing all of the policies, plans, options, riders, and exclusions is mind-numbing. Running your mind through all the morbid possibilities in which you may need health insurance: worse than mind-numbing.
[Disclaimer up front: I personally compiled what follows, based on Internet research and phone calls with insurance reps. Of course, it's entirely possible that I got something wrong, and, if so, I apologize.]
There is no plan designed specifically for one-year RTW trips a la the Big Trip; you’re caught between buying travel insurance (meant for students on holiday and/or globe-trotting business execs) and buying long-term global medical insurance (meant for expats, missionaries, and the like).
The Coverage I Want:
I went back and forth on what sort of coverage I wanted. I took some heat from my Dad. Ultimately, I decided:
- If something really bad happens, I want health insurance that will evacuate me back to the United States and pay for my treatment here. [Whether or not you want coverage in the U.S. is perhaps the big question in the health insurance equation.]
- Even in the event of something more garden-variety (i.e., a broken leg), I still want to have the option to come home and get surgery/treatment here.
- I also want some reasonable coverage for a few months at the end of my trip after I return home but before I become employed again.
- I’m not particularly interested in travel insurance (i.e., trip cancellation insurance and baggage insurance). I’m not buying a RTW plane ticket, I’m not booking expensive advance reservations, and I’m not traveling with expensive stuff.
Barring the really bad happening, I don’t intend to rely on my health insurance much. I’m lucky to be 26, healthy as a horse, and the recipient of great medical care heretofore. Because of that, and because preventative and routine medical expenses are cheap in the developing world, I’m comfortable with a high deductible.
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