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Global Medical Evacuation Coverage for Travelers: A frank discussion

An in-depth look at Medjet Assist Global Medical Transport

“All human plans [are] subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.”

Arthur C. Clarke 2010 Odyssey Two

After decades of travel, I have just recently gained a better understanding of the importance of Global Medical Evacuation coverage and how it works. I, like many, had some misconceptions about how it functions within my travel insurance policy. Luckily I have never needed it. The sobering fact is that one in every 30 trips ends in a medical emergency and over 2 million travelers a year require medical transport. Now that I am aware of the risk, I will never travel again without it and recently purchased my first annual membership.

In my career working in the medical field, I learned quickly the importance of knowledge empowering the patient. A patient who understands what is going on can interact with the medical team, which often results in better care and involvement of the providers. Knowledge is power, and in the realm of Global Medical Evacuation, it may make a life and death difference.

Let us have a frank talk about the realities so you can get better protection moving forward. I hope to provide some insight on the value and importance of having Global Medical Evacuation coverage. As a medical professional, I won’t hesitate to speak to the facts, not instill fear but to educate. An educated consumer is a powerful one.

What is Global Medical Evacuation coverage?

Global Medical Evacuation coverage will fully cover the cost to have you flown home from anywhere in the world or domestically if you become hospitalized 150 miles or more from home. It will arrange air medical evacuation to your home-country hospital, of your choice, for continued inpatient care. All you pay is a membership fee and they cover all costs including a medical team to care for you during transit. Medical transport, especially while traveling internationally, is often in the $100,00-250,000 range based on distance and the severity of your condition. The cost of membership is very reasonable (promise) and gives you peace of mind if the unimaginable happens.

Most travel insurance policies do carry medical evacuation but did you know they most only get you to the nearest acceptable medical facility not back home?

Why is Global Medical Evacuation coverage essential?

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Having a travel blog involves constant research and staying on top of travel news. In recent years, many stories have hit close to home. Suffering and loss that could have been reduced during a time of crisis. As a result, this encouraged me to change my approach to the coverages I purchase for my travel abroad. It was the right choice to protect my family and myself. I found that missing piece in an impressive company called Medjet. Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport membership program for travelers.

If this was a good option for me, it could be for our readers. The true inspiration to write this came when I began recalling my years working in a hospital where people came from all over the world to receive the state-of-the-art treatment we provided. Often we had families who spoke little to no English thrust into a world where everything was foreign to them while fighting for their life. They experienced difficulty communicating basics with the medical team and often felt unsure if all was being done. They were lonely being so far away from their family and friends during one of the most challenging times of their lives. It was so often heartbreaking to watch the toll it took.

Is that what any of us would want in a time of crisis? It only adds enormous stress, fear, and financial burden. Most importantly it impacts healing. It is best to be home; in a system where you speak the language and have the best care at your disposal.

But my travel insurance covers emergency medical evacuation, doesn’t it?

Virtually all travel insurance policies have an emergency medical evacuation component. I frequently hear that I have all the coverage I need, so I don’t need more. But have you looked at the fine print?

The reality is this; they will transport you to the nearest acceptable facility that can provide you with the care you need. That will likely be in the country where you become ill/injured or in the closest country nearby. It is rarely, if ever, back home to the United States. Below is an example of the language found in travel insurance policies.

“Medical Evacuation can provide coverage for transportation of a traveler to the nearest adequate medical facility in the event of a medical emergency during their trip. Repatriation can transport a traveler’s remains back home.

In coordination with Our designated Assistance Company, a legally licensed Physician must order the Emergency Medical Evacuation. They must certify that the severity of Your Accidental Injury or Emergency Sickness warrants Your Emergency Medical Evacuation to the closest adequate medical facility. The Assistance Company or we must review and approve the necessity of the Emergency Medical Evacuation based on the inadequacy of local medical facilities. The Emergency Medical Evacuation must be coordinated through the most direct and economical conveyance and route possible, such as air or land ambulance or commercial airline carrier.”

Travel insurance medical evacuation coverage and how it is used is the insurance company’s decision. They determine if, where, and how you go. It may not be the best facility, they take complete control, and you have little to no say in what happens. That is pretty scary in a crisis.

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Learning from real-life scenarios

You are traveling in rural Spain with a tour group. The vehicle you are in gets in an accident, and you have a serious injury. You are brought to a small local hospital, but it cannot care for someone with such severe injuries. You contact your travel insurance company to arrange for medical evacuation. If they agree that you need a better-equipped hospital, they will arrange for transportation to the closest and most capable medical facility to care for you. That could be in a major city in Spain such as Madrid or Barcelona. Maybe even to a neighboring country. The cost of these medical evacuations, even in-country, can reach six figures. Your travel insurance policy should fully cover it.

You are now in a major hospital, but you don’t speak the language or can effectively communicate with the doctors. Interpreters can be brought in but are not there when nursing staff and off-hours physicians provide care. The hospital and medical system may not be up to the standards you are accustomed to and may be difficult to navigate. You are far from home, away from family and friends. You could be alone or have only one person there to provide support. It is not hard to imagine how terrifying this could be.

I can get home; I have a high limit for my medical evacuation

Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not be able to travel for months unless medically evacuated. Your policy said it paid up to $500,000 for travel, so you are confident you can then get back to the states. However, that is NOT the case. The allowance is only to the closest hospital to provide you care, not back to the states or close to home. Their job is done; they had met the terms you agreed to when the plan was purchased.

The cost of medical transport from overseas to the US can reach the $250,000 range, prohibitive for almost all of us. You are now stuck in a foreign nation, possibly for months, as you recover. If your family is there with you, that will help, but what if they have a job they will need to return to, or your kids need to go back to school? We all know that having our loved ones near us during difficult times is invaluable.

It is not always a vehicle accident

The above scenario occurs in many forms that could require hospitalization. Severe falls, head injuries, hit by a vehicle, ATV accident, public transportation accident, natural disaster, hit by a bicyclist, severe foodborne illness, heart attack, sports or adventure injury, stroke, pancreatitis, Covid, and on and on. Several of these events have happened to friends, or I have seen them occur while traveling. This is the reality, we all have known loved ones, or ourselves hit with sudden health issues. It doesn’t always happen close to home.

Here is the bottom line

You want to be close to home at a medical facility of your choice, one that will provide you with the care you need where you speak the language and have your support system near you.

You can buy peace of mind, which is worth its weight in gold. That is what insurance is all about, for the what-ifs, especially the big what-ifs. There is no better coverage for Global Medical Evacuation transport than Medjet Assist. I will never leave home without it, and neither should you. The quality and reliability of Medjet are exemplary, and there is no better value for your dollar.

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Do I still need travel insurance?

YES, YES, YES! Travel insurance policies have so many other essential elements that are invaluable. We always, absolutely always, buy travel insurance for every trip abroad. We wrote an article on the importance of travel insurance and how to find the best deals. You can read it by clicking HERE. Many people rely on what their travel credit card offers, which is not a good idea at all, and this comes from someone who adores her Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Our travel insurance article goes more depth on that as well.

Where can I find Global Medical Evacuation coverage that brings me home?

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A lot of research was done to find the best and most reputable company. We chose Medjet Assist for our Global Medical Evacuation coverage. Medjet is a BBB accredited business with an A+ rating. They have been in business for 30 years and have a stellar reputation. Lloyds of London also backs them. Their sole purpose is to provide members air Global Medical Evacuation transport back home at no cost cap. They pay 100% of the costs.

Let’s look at some real-life examples from Medjet

Chile to Georgia, USA, 6,085 miles from home, Costs $107,887. Cost to member 0.

India to Alberta, Canada, 6,725 miles from home, Costs $156,538. Cost to member 0.

Florida to California, all within the USA. Cost of transport $34,789. Cost to member 0.

I am on a budget; the cost of this must be exorbitant.

hospital

You may suspect this kind of service would be prohibitive for most of us to purchase. They transport you back to your home hospital or a hospital of your choice and a family member to accompany you. There are no exclusions for sports or adventure-based travel injuries. The medical transfer is available regardless of the medical necessity. It will transfer you from hospital to hospital if you require continued hospitalization per the medical team caring for you. If you meet those conditions, they will transport you per your request, not based on an insurance company deciding for you. If you want to get to a hospital near your home, they will transport you there at no added cost!!!

What does a Medjet membership cost?

Annual membership $295.00

Per person up to age 75—one price for all. If you are a frequent traveler, that is a fantastic price. It is not based on your existing health, how long ago you booked your trip, how many trips you take, or where you are going.

Short-term memberships start at $99

This is an excellent option for those who travel abroad once a year and do not need an annual membership.

Family memberships on the above plans are available as well.

There are some Specialty Memberships for ages 75-84, college students abroad, expatriates who live and work abroad, and motorcycles (they transport you and your bike home).

In my mind, that is an incredibly reasonable price for the peace of mind it provides. For people traveling on tight budgets, the cost may be prohibitive, which is understandable. In the case of younger travelers, I know some parents who have purchased the membership for their kids to provide themselves peace of mind while they are abroad. Working in the medical field, I am too aware of tragic stories, and all I can do to minimize the trauma is important. It isn’t about being paranoid; it is about being smart.

TIP

If your trip isn’t for another few months but you wish to buy a MedJet membership now you are able to choose an effective date closer to your actual travel date. This can come in handy when they have some of their rare sales too.

Where is Medjet available?

MedJet memberships are available to residents in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Medjet is a U.S based company. Any member more than 150 miles from home, yes even on the whole other side of the world, can access Global Medical Evacuation transport assistance to get them back home when requiring ongoing hospitalization. They are available 24 hours a day.

Of the few companies that offer this service, no one comes close reputation-wise to MedJet, so it is the only one we are recommending. They know what they are doing. As always, we suggest you shop prices and options.

medjet

Planning to travel? Check out our Destinations page

Medjet has a few expanded plans.

Our focus in this article is on Global Medical Evacuation. Medjet does offer a Medjet Horizon plan that covers not only Global Medical Evacuation but also crisis response. This includes 24/7 Travel Security Response and Evacuation Services due to Political Threat, Terrorism, Natural Disaster, Pandemic, and Violent Crime. 24/7 Crisis Response to Kidnap for Ransom, Disappearance, Wrongful Detention, Blackmail & Extortion. Trip Intelligence and e-Alerts. Legal referrals. Emergency medical cash advance. We expect the cost is substantial, but we did not explore that.

A few common questions people may have

Does it cover Covid?

Yes, Medjet does transport for Covid-19 hospitalizations and other illnesses and accidents that send you to the hospital while traveling abroad.

What specifically does MedJet do?

Regardless of medical necessity, if a member is hospitalized 150 miles or more from home, Medjet will arrange Medical Evacuation. They will transfer you to the hospital of your choice within your home country with no pre-existing condition exclusions (under age 75), health questions, deductibles, or claim forms. There are no monetary limits to the program’s benefits and no restrictions on the travel amount taken annually. It must be a hospital-to-hospital transfer where you will be getting continued care in the hospital setting.

Who decides if you are eligible for transport?

If you call Medjet, their medical department will consult with your local attending physician to determine your stability for transfer. If you meet the criteria for transport and are medically stable, the decision is yours.

Is there a limit per year?

Members under the age of 75 are allowed two modes of transport per membership year. In the case of a common accident involving multiple enrolled family members, each and every member of the enrolled family will receive one transport.

If I am being medically transported by air, will a family member be able to be with me during the flight?

Yes, all aircraft have the space for critical patients and a family member.

How long does repatriation take if you are hospitalized abroad?

Medical repatriation timeframes can vary. They depend on many different factors, including but not limited to the time it takes to process the required permits and visas for the countries involved. For details specific to your situation, please contact Medjet before your travels.

What does a family membership encompass?

A family plan membership may include a primary member, a domestic partner or spouse, and up to five dependent children up to age 19 (or up to age 23 for full-time students)

Why is it a membership and not insurance?

There are no claim forms, subrogation, or bills that show up months after your emergency medical situation. They also take care of all communication between the admitting and receiving hospitals and will stay in touch by providing updates to family and friends.

Do they have the resources to transport an entire family if all are in a hospital abroad?

Yes. Some Medjet authorized affiliate aircraft can transport up to two critical patients at once and dispatch multiple aircraft simultaneously. They can also transport several non-acute patients at once on a common aircraft through their affiliate network.

Does Medjet operate and maintain its own aircraft?

No. Medjet is an authorized Indirect Air Carrier (IAC) utilizing the services of licensed Part 135 air carriers to meet your air ambulance transportation needs. Medjet does not own, lease or operate any aircraft and has no affiliation with any direct air carrier. As an IAC, Medjet contracts for the provision of air transportation services in its own name and coordinates the provision of Global Medical Evacuation services for your flight. Licensed direct air carriers operate all flights.

How do I know the aircraft and crew transporting me are safe?

Medjet requires all authorized medical aircraft to be twin engines with a minimum of two pilots specially trained and certified for the specific aircraft they are flying. Medical teams must be specially trained in the care of critically ill or injured patients at altitude, with experience in short- and long-range air medical transport missions. All authorized affiliates must comply annually with Medjet Assist standards regarding liability insurance limits and pilot and medical crew training.

What medical services do the aircraft have?

Aircraft operated by Medjet Assist authorized affiliates are fitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment and can operate as flying intensive-care units. All aircraft can accommodate one critical patient and family member along with a medical team.

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Final thoughts

Enhance your international and domestic travel protection for Global Medical Evacuation by purchasing a Medjet membership. It is something that you hope you will never need, but if you do, it will be one of the most invaluable purchases of a lifetime. Isn’t your peace of mind worth it?

© 2022 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

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Squaremouth.com

Our favorite travel insurance site!

If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well insured. Not for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.

MedjetAssist

Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the US to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.

Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for $295. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.

Expedia.com 

Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com

Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

We always start with Expedia to check prices, but it sometimes says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com, and we find it lists plenty of rooms. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.

Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)

Traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?

With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.

VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that also has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family, with no problems to date.

Rail Europe

Discover Europe by Train

Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Rail Europe continues to add coverage all the time.

It is a fast, easy and economical way to purchase train and bus tickets for Europe. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.

Amazon.com

An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

Amazon is one of the most extensive shopping online sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and it is their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com that provide extensive options for customers.

We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.

Travelpro Luggage

Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.

We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and returned to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.

Travelpro takes the time to learn what travelers want and need, then builds it. The key factor for us is that it must be lightweight upfront and very resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.

iVisa

Travel documentation made more accessible

iVisa.com is dedicated to providing customers with a simple, fast, and reliable way to get travel documentation for their journey. Their online application process makes getting visas, health declarations, or passport photos a breeze, all from your home’s comfort. As a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry, they take pride in making global travel more accessible for everyone. In the end, it is a simple and affordable travel resource to get the necessary entry documents complete for your international travel.

This section contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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