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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.



Keep in mind that you may not have a lot of time to wait to purchase travel insurance after booking a trip. Many insurers will not cover a pre-existing medical condition unless you buy the insurance within a certain number of days after you make the first payment for the trip. If you miss the window, the policies will still cover other medical emergencies that are not related to pre-existing conditions (health conditions you have at the time you take out the insurance).

Travel insurance is recommended for anyone travelling with a pre-existing medical condition.

Before buying travel insurance:

  • Think about what risks you want to insure. For instance, 
    • Cancellation or interruption of your trip due to health reasons.
    • Emergency transport to a qualified medical facility or back to the U.S.    
    • Carrier delay
    • Dying in a plane crash
  • Check your existing health insurance, other insurance such as homeowners and auto, and credit cards to see what aspects of travel are covered. 
    • Once you know which risks are not covered, you know what you want to look for in a travel insurance policy.
    • If you are a veteran, check to see if you can receive care at military faclities outside the country. 
  • Read the policy you are considering carefully to be sure it covers what you want. For instance, be sure that a policy covers pre-existing medical conditions.  (If the policy is written in language that is too difficult for you, ask a family member or friend to review it for you. Do not rely on what a sales person tells you the policy says).

Keep in mind that there are travel policies that limit coverage to health care.

You can purchase travel insurance through your travel agent, through airlines or transportation companies, online or directly through insurers.

  • According to the Wall Street Journal, standard policies cost between 4% and 10% of the total cost of the trip. 
  • It generally costs less to purchase a policy independently than through an airline. 
  • Cost can vary based on the length of the trip and your age.

In addition to travel insurance, you can assure that you will be evacuated to a facility of your choice by contracting with a company such as MedJet Assistance.

If you have a medical or other covered issue while traveling, it is advisable to call your provider as soon as you have a problem to confirm that you are following the correct steps. In any event, be sure to keep receipts. 

For additional information, see:

What Is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance:

  • Protects your travel investment (for instance, if the travel company should go bankrupt or if you need to cancel unexpectedly).
  • Pays for medical costs.
  • Pays for medical evacuation and return home when medically necessary.
  • Pays for other losses while traveling.

Some policies only include specific risks. Other policies package together coverage against a number of risks that can interrupt a trip.

Travel insurance is usually purchased on a per trip basis.

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

The two basic reasons to purchase travel insurance are:

  • To reduce or eliminate your out-of-pocket costs if the trip is cancelled or interrupted for reasons beyond your control, such as the tour operator goes out of business. 
  • To cover the expense, and make arrangements, in case you need medical care while traveling.

To determine whether you need travel insurance, and if so, what coverages, check all your insurance policies to determine what coverage you already have. For example, check your:


  • Homeowners Insurance to see whether your belongings are covered while traveling.
  • Health insurance.
    • Private Insurance
      • Typically, you have to pay out of pockeet and submit a claim when you return - if your policy provides coverage at all.
      • A managed care type policy generally does not cover when traveling, even in the U.S.
    • Medicare generally doesn't cover health care costs outside the U.S., although some Medigap policies do provide limited coverage.
    • Medicaid programs generally refuse to pay for anything other than life-or-death emergency room visits and emergency hospitalizations in other states. (Medicaid can also pay for regular care in state border areas such as Washington, D.C., and New York City where patients could get care in adjoining suburban states.) Medicaid does not pay for care outside of the United States.
    • State programs for the needy generally require participants to be a resident of the state and assume that a long absence (such as 30 days) indicates a loss of residency.
    • Veterans: see below.

If you do not already have health insurance that will cover while traveling, it is generally recommended that everyone with a pre-existing medical condition purchase travel insurance. 

What To Look For In A Travel Insurance Policy

Many policies are sold as "travel health insurance" when all they offer is trip interruption and cancellation, medical transport/evacuation benefits and telephone advice lines but not actual travel health insurance.

As a person with a pre-existing medical condition, it is recommended that you only consider a travel insurance policy that:

  • Is underwritten by an insurance company. For example, insurance from a cruise line doesn't help if the cruise line goes bankrupt.
  • Does not exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
    • Some policies exclude pre-existing conditions, but provide the option of waiving the clause for an additional premium. 
    • Watch for a provision which states that pre-existing conditions are excluded if the policy is not purchased within a particular number of days after making your first payment for the trip. 
  • Provides comprehensive health coverage, including services rendered by doctors and other health care providers and hospitals. 
    • This is especially important if you travel outside the U.S. 
    • Note that health insurance in travel insurance policies generally only covers the excess costs above what are paid for by your health insurance..
  • Provides medical evacuation (a provision which pays for an ambulance, medical helicopter or other transportation if you have to be transported for medical care.) This is particularly important if you are traveling to an undeveloped country or will not be need an appropriate level of medical care. In some cases, coverage may be for transport back to the U.S. if you are abroad.
  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption. This provision insures against the loss of your deposit or prepaid expenses if the trip is cancelled or interrupted because of one of the covered reasons. It is particularly important that the policy covers if:
    • You become injured or sick.
    • A family member dies.

Also consider whether you want coverage for any of the following:

  • Supplier default: This coverage reimburses you if the company you book your trip through goes out of business.
  • Baggage: Covers your belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged anytime during your trip. Airlines only cover baggage in their possession, and even then, only for a limited amount of money.
  • High-risk sports and activities: Some policies may not cover accidents and injuries related to certain high-risk sports and activities. Scuba diving is often listed as one of these risks.
  • Terrorism coverage: Reimburses if your specific destination becomes a terrorism target.
  • Hijacking or quarantining of you or the person traveling with you
  • If you are a teacher: Coverage in case the school year is extended beyond the date you are scheduled to leave for your trip.
  • If you are stranded at an airport because of a weather delay or cancellation. 
    • An insurer can help cover the costs of a hotel, meals and other incidental expenses up to a fixed dollar amount. Policies with this provision usually also provide access to a 24/7 assistance hotline which works with the airline to help keep rebook a flight, keep track of your luggage, and find a hotel room.
    • You cannot buy this coverage after learning that a storm is forecast. The coverage is only for "unforeseen events." 
  • Life insurance: Covers in the event of death or dismemberment while traveling. This is in addition to any other life insurance you may have.
  • Reparation of remains: Covers the cost of moving the insured's remains to the U.S. in the event of death while traveling.

What To Do Before Purchasing A Travel Insurance Policy

Before purchasing a travel policy:

  • Get a sample copy of the policy from a sales rep at the insurer or booking agent. 
  • Ask the sales rep to point to the provisions of the policy that cover your specific concerns. 
  • Read through the policy, including the fine print, to be sure it covers what you want.
  • Always check to be sure the policy covers pre-existing health conditions. 

How Can I Purchase Travel Insurance?

You can purchase travel insurance issued or underwritten by an insurance company through your travel agent, airlines or other transportation companies, online  or directly from an insurer. It is recommended that you do not purchase travel insurance from a tour operator or cruise line. If the company goes out of business, you may not be covered.

A travel agent who caters to a gay clientele is likely to be an excellent source of information about travel health insurance because of extensive experience dealing with people who are HIV positive. 

Two sites which provide a comprehensive variety of choices are:

Some insurers that have been known to sell comprehensive travel health insurance with no pre-existing condition exclusion (at least for people who purchase the insurance within a short period of time after booking their trip) are:


  • Some credit cards offer limited health benefits while you travel. Read plan materials to find out what is covered. Many plans restrict coverage to medical evacuation and medical advice telephone services.
  • Travel insurance sold by airlines, cruise companies or travel aggreggator sites usually offer only one plan without choice. Even if you recognize the name of the insurer, it may have trimmed-down benefits to make the plan more affordable.

Medical Evacuation Contract

In addition to travel insurance, you can contract directly with MedJet Assistance, offsite link, Tel.: 800.963.3538.

MedJet guarantees to evacuate you to a doctor or medical facility of your choice (not just the easiest available as is the case with most standard travel insurance policies). MedJet sells the service on a yearly basis. For non-frequent travelers, a short term plan is available for seniors age 75 and older.


VA health care is not available outside the United States and the Philippines except for emergency care at European and Far East U.S. military bases for "service-connected" compensationers. Compensationers are those veterans who get VA checks for illnesses or injuries which began while on active duty.

Compensationers can have medical care from approved foreign sources covered by seeking advance permission for such coverage from the VA. Contact the Foreign and Insular Affairs Unit, Medical Administration, Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, 50 Irving Street, NW, Washington, DC 20422, Tel.: 202.745.8242. Numerous forms must be completed.

Non-compensationer veterans who already have VA patient identity cards have been known to receive care at emergency rooms of overseas U.S. military medical facilities because the clerical staff at overseas U. S. military medical facilities may not be up-to-date on the complex VA rules.