Health Insurance While Traveling

Ciao a tutti!

Today, I want to talk about health insurance while traveling and how important it is, especially if you are from the United States or from a country that does not have a reciprocal agreement with the European Union.

So what do you do?

First, check with your private health insurance and see if they offer reimbursements for travel overseas.

If not, then you want to look into getting a travel medical policy that will cover for accidents and illness while you are abroad. Remember that many travel policies do not cover pre-existing condition so make sure before you buy a policy that you ask all the relevant questions. Some policies will allow you purchase riders for pre-existing conditions and other conditions. Again, check with the provider before you purchase.

If you plan to stay in Rome for any length of time, having insurance is often a requirement for your visa, as it was for my student visa. You can often purchase an Italian policy, but this just covers emergency visits. My university offered a private option that was slightly more expensive but covered visits in a doctor’s office.

Why do I bring this up?

Last spring, I fell in Rome. I was walking down a hill, and a piece of the sidewalk fell away, I lost my balance, my foot fell into the small crater under the curb, I twisted my ankle, and I couldn’t walk. I also fell, damaged my knees, and I wasn’t able to walk very well for a couple of weeks. Luckily, the hospital was not very far away, and I was able to limp there and get checked out. I did not break my ankle, but I sprained it badly and bruised my left knee. I spent the next month with restricted movement. All I can say is that having coverage made getting care. I know that things in Italy often do not seem to work well, but the hospital staff was professional, caring and helpful.

I recommend getting insurance. While health care in Europe is much cheaper than in the United States, I would not recommend traveling without insurance, especially if you have an emergency and eventually need to be repatriated quickly to the United States. A lot of travel policies will help cover the cost of such transfers and travel, and this can save you thousands of dollars.

I can’t recommend any one particular policy as being better than any other. I would do a Google search for “travel medical insurance” to see what is available. I personally have heard good things about Blue Cross/Blue Shield travel policies. You can find more information about them here.