If you have elderly parents visiting you from India, it is highly recommended to get them medical insurance. This is especially true if they are coming for a long duration, already have pre-existing medical conditions or are susceptible to health issues due to weather/food change, stress and fatigue.
Even if they are healthy and have planned many outdoor/strenuous activities during their stay, its best to err on the side of precaution. Usually you will see the option to purchase insurance when you book your ticket to the US. Remember that travel insurance is not the same as visitor medical insurance. Travel insurance protects you in case of damage to baggage, flight cancellations, delays due to weather and other travel related emergencies.
Medical insurance will cover new and unforeseen medical problems, accidents and injuries. To find the right medical insurance policy, there are some important criteria you should consider:
Cost of buying the medical insurance:
How much do you have to pay per month to the insurance provider? Coverage limit, policy maximum, deductible, co-pay.
What is the maxim amount the insurance will pay in various situations?: Is there an amount that you will have to pay every time you visit the doctor/avail a medical service?
At what point will you stop paying out of pocket?
Comprehensive or Fixed coverage: Comprehensive policies cover many more instances of medical assistance and hence cost more. Fixed coverage is for very specific instances and have higher deductibles and co-pays, but lower costs per month. What works best for you?
Cancellable or renewable policies:
In case your trip is cut short, is there a cancellation fee? Can you get a refund for the remaining duration of the policy? Similarly, if your trip is extended, can you renew the policy for the additional period? Multi trip coverage and joint coverage for both parents If you are travelling to and fro, multiple times within your visa duration, can the policy cover all trips?
Will it be cost effective to purchase the same policy if both parents have different health issues?
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) or Out of Network coverage If you have a specific doctor in mind, or is most conveniently located, who does not accept this insurance, what will be the repercussion?
How do I find doctors within the PPO network?
Customer care support:
What is the customer care number if you have/don’t have a local US number?
Is it toll free/24*7?
How do they handle disputes/grievances?
Process of claims, refunds, billing, paperwork:
What is the step by step process that I should follow from when I need to go to a doctor to when the medical treatment is completed?
What forms do I need to fill? It is better to buy medical insurance from a US provider because of customer care availability at US hours and direct billing by the doctor to the insurance company.
However, if you still feel that Indian companies are easier to communicate with and lighter on the wallet, you have options like Bajaj Allianz, SBI, TATA AIG, HDFC Ergo, Bharti AXA, Future Generali and Apollo.
Some of the top plans for parents visiting the U.S. include Patriot America Plus, CoverAmerica - Gold, Atlas America, Liaison Travel Choice and Patriot America, as they all feature excellent PPO networks, reliable comprehensive coverage, and coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions.
VisitorsCoverage, Insubuy (US) and Policybazaar (India) are reliable portal to get quotes and compare policies. If the terms used are confusing, ensure you get it clarified and also explain the same to your parents. You do not have to do any medical tests prior to coming to the US, but if you have recent medical reports that may help the doctor assess your case better, carry that along as well. Ensure that your parents have all the documents and payment options handy in case they have to deal with a medical emergency, and prepare them mentally. The groundwork is worth the peace of mind so both you and your parents can enjoy their time in the US. Health is priceless after all!
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