No one wants to think about getting injured or falling ill in a foreign land, but the fact of the matter remains that at least 50% of traveling Americans will require medical care at some point while on vacation. If you should find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of hospitalization in another country, you need to be sure you have the proper insurance to cover your treatment. There is no greater security than Travel Medical Insurance.
Many primary health plans in the United States have limited coverage for their members once they leave American soil. Having travel medical insurance gives you the peace of mind knowing your health costs will be covered wherever your destination. The US State Department even encourages Americans traveling abroad to purchase a supplemental travel medical policy if their primary medical coverage is insufficient for foreign travel: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html
Though the purpose of your travel medical insurance is identical to that of your primary health plan, there are a few key differences:
Does Not Cover For Pre-existing Conditions
Unfortunately, if you have current health issues, your travel medical insurance policy will not assist in any emergency related to your condition. For example, someone with a heart condition would not be eligible for coverage under their travel medical policy for cardiac arrest while on vacation. This considered, you should only buy travel medical insurance for unexpected medical emergencies.
Only Covers For a Set Time
Your primary health policy does not contain an expiration date other than a yearly policy renewal or your employer benefits election deadline, whereas your travel medical policy only covers you for the period you set. The policy expires the moment you return to your home turf.