We’ve all been hearing about it lately. The buzz is almost nonstop. Health insurance—should it be a requirement, or not? One estimate says that roughly some forty million Americans do not have health insurance and that’s a major problem, no doubt. So, of course, various groups are pushing to have such insurance supplied, and require us all to have it. Good or bad idea? I leave it to you to decide. But did you know that when you travel abroad, this can be just as much of a problem? Health insurance is fast becoming a big issue for international travelers these days. (‘’)For instance, are you aware that some countries require visitors to have proof of health insurance just to gain entry into their country? Some cruise lines also demand this, as do other types of tourist companies and organizations. Students studying in foreign countries often are required to have insurance. The same applies to many business people working in other nations. More and more, it seems, we travelers must have required travel insurance.
And even if you already have your own health insurance here in the United States, you may still have to pay for required extra travel insurance whether you want it or not. This is the “Required Travel Insurance” that can tack on a hefty surcharge to any cruise or trip. And for the unsuspecting tourist, especially those traveling on a budget, this can be a major shock, even a deal breaker, because some people simply can’t get such insurance, because of preexisting health conditions. Or, they simply can’t afford the extra cost, which gets higher for those who are older. This means that some people just can’t go some places, as a result.
What exactly do we mean by places demanding required travel insurance? Well, one good example of this is the Czech Republic. Here are the entry requirements for the Czech Republic, as stated by the U.S. State Department:
“ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: The Czech Republic is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter the Czech Republic for up to 90 days within any 180-day period for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the periods of stay. For further details on travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen Fact Sheet. All foreigners seeking entry in the Czech Republic must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs for hospitalization and medical treatment in the Czech Republic.”
This makes it clear that you can’t go to the Czech Republic unless you can show verifiable proof of health insurance, or some ability to pay for it while there. It’s “required.” And the Czech Republic is hardly alone in this. It gets even more complicated. As of this April 2010, citizens of the United Kingdom have to purchase extra coverage to go to the Channel Islands, because their National Health Insurance no longer will cover them there. The same is true in reverse. So things are changing rapidly in this regard, all around the world, and not for the better.
With the onset of financial problems due to current worldwide economic conditions, expect more countries to protect their own health system’s costs by requiring travelers to show required proof of insurance before entry. This is a growing phenomenon, and may well be “the wave of the future.”
And this isn’t just true of countries, this demanding of required travel insurance. Again, cruise lines do it, as well. One company charges $245 per person (see email message below sent by the reader) as the standard fee for taking its regular cruises. Longer cruises cost more. And to confirm a booking, you often have to have this. And the same goes for some tour services, as well. Prices vary, but to purchase the package, you often have to pay for the required travel insurance, like it or not.
This happened to my father and me. A while back, we traveled on a Trafalgar tour. As part of the package deal, we had to pay a required travel insurance fee for each of us. Now, this isn’t necessarily Trafalgar’s demand, but to enter certain countries, all members of the tour had to have it, so Trafalgar had to charge for it. Fair is fair, I suppose. But as a side note, when my father’s back went out while we were in Venice, our tour guide was very reluctant to aid us in getting my dad to a doctor (as the brochure told us they would do). In fact, he did not help us at all, and said that “there wasn’t time for that” if we wanted to continue with the tour, although we were only talking about a standard one-hour appointment with any available local doctor.
So, feeling we had very little choice, we didn’t go to the doctor. My father did recover slowly and we believe it was just a back spasm, but for days, he was in a lot of pain. It interfered with what he could do on the tour. So in this case, even though we had paid the required travel insurance up front, we didn’t feel we realized the benefits of it when needed. That’s just something to think about here, because it seems, although you may be required to have travel insurance, whether or not it will work for you when actually needed, is another matter.
Now, a lot of retired folk feel they don’t have to worry about this issue, because they have Medicare. Wrong! Medicare almost NEVER covers people abroad, except under VERY limited circumstances only, which almost never seem to apply in the real world. So, producing your Medicare card as proof of required insurance in such places as the Czech Republic, simply won’t fly at all.
What’s more, this more often than not holds true for most American medical insurance plans, as well. You often are not covered while abroad. So when some official in another country demands you produce proof of coverage, those insurance cards will often not meet the required travel insurance standards. In short, they can be worthless pieces of paper in this regard. And even if your medical plan will act to cover you abroad, they are often highly limited in what they will pay for in such instances. Medical evacuation back to the United States is often not included.
Is required travel insurance a growing problem? Yes, most definitely. As economies falter, the demand for this sort of thing is growing around the world. So, it is something travelers must take into account when they go abroad. What can be done about it? Probably, very little, I’m afraid. If a country or tour company demands required travel insurance, your only options seem to be not to go to that country, or not to use that tour business. And as more countries demand such insurance, bet on more tour companies doing the same.
Here’s the email message sent to us by our loyal Currate.com subscriber asking about the travel insurance issue:
----- Forwarded Message ----(edited to protect the subscriber privacy)
From: Hibiscus Travel
To: Currate Subscriber
Sent: Thu, February 25, 2010 10:19:05 PMHi Currate Subscriber, (edited to protect the subscriber privacy)
Subject: Re: Romantic Danube River Cruise
I have good news for you. I got the OK from the cruise line tonight. You can join
the group. Please let me know from which airport in the US you and your travel
companion will depart. Thus, I can give you an air quote.
Attached you will find one Data Sheet, one Travel Insurance Waiver, one Consumer
Disclosure Notice, one Credit Card Authorization Form. In order to view the booking
papers, you need to open the attachments. Please fax
- the Guest Data Sheet (completed)
- the Credit Card Authorization Form (completed and signed)
- the Travel Insurance Waiver (completed and signed) and
- the Consumer Disclosure Notice (signed) to (561)-748-8766 as soon as possible. The cruise flyer is attached below.
A deposit in the amount of $450.00 per person ($900.00 per cabin) and the travel
insurance ($245 pp or $295 pp) is due to make a firm reservation.
AMA Waterways offers two different types of travel insurance: Standard Travel
Protection for $245.00 per person and Travel Protection Plus for 295.00 per person.
The insurance needs be purchased at the time you make your initial trip payment.Please read about the details regarding the travel insurance at
http://amadeuswaterways.com/reservations.asp?page=tvlpro . The final payment is due by March 25, 2010.
After receiving your deposit and travel insurance payment, we will mail you the
cruise catalogues for 2010. In the meantime, visit www.amawaterways.com to read
about the details regarding your river cruise.
The cancellation policy for the cruise is as follows:
Until July 15, 2009 $400.00 pp deposit is refundable
July 16, 2009 – 115 days prior to departure $200.00 pp loss of deposit
116 – 80 days prior to departure 15% loss of land and cruise price
79 – 50 days prior to departure 35% loss of land and cruise price
49 – 20 days prior to departure 50% loss of land and cruise price
19 – 10 days prior to departure 80% loss of land and cruise price
>From 9 days prior to departure 100% loss of land and cruise price
Junior Suites $400.00 pp deposit is non-refundable
In case of a cancellation, contact Terese Ternullo by phone at 1-866-748-8766 or
561-748-8766 or by fax at 561-493-7045. A non-refundable cancellation fee of $100.00
per person will apply in addition to AMA Waterways’ cancellation penalties. The air can be booked through AMA Waterways. If you book the air yourself and/or you
use frequent-flyer miles to get to the point of embarkation, you must be at the port
prior to the embarkation deadline (one hour prior to departure). If you miss the
sailing, any and all expenses related to joining the ship at another port, if
possible, are your sole responsibility.
Round-trip airport to ship transfers are only included when air is purchased with a
cruise/tour package. Transfers are only valid on tour departure and arrival dates.
In case you make your own air arrangements, transfers may be purchased for an
additional charge. Otherwise, you are in charge of your own transfer arrangements.
The recommended gratuities are 12 Euros p.p. per day for the crew and 3 Euros p.p.
per day for the Cruise Director. Gratuities are not included in the prices shown on
the cruise flyer and subject to change without notice.
AMA Waterways does not publish any requirements regarding vaccinations. Therefore,
it is your responsibility to check with your health professional which vaccination
and medication you will need for your trip.
A passport, valid for 6 months beyond the completion date of your travel is required
for all passengers. Non-US citizens: It is your responsibility to identify and to
obtain all the necessary visas before commencing this cruise.
AMA Waterways’ rules and regulations are applicable to this cruise. Read the fine
print in the back of your cruise catalogue on the website www.amawaterways.com.
Please note that AMA Waterways reserves the right to collect any increases in fuel
charges, government fees, taxes, or similar charges in effect at the time of sailing
even if the fare has already been paid in full.
AMA Waterways requires a group size of 20 in order to provide interpreter service. Romantic Danube River Cruise 7-night cruise plus 3 nights optional in Prague
July 9-19, 2010
AMA Waterways: MS Amalyra
with interpreter service Optional:
July 9 Arrival in Prague, Transfer to the hotel
July 10 Prague with City Tour
July 11 Prague free time
July 12 Transfer to Vilshofen with a stop in Regensburg
Pre-cruise package 3 nights Prague: $690.00 per person, double occupancy incl.
hotel, breakfast, sightseeing as listed above and transfer to Vilshofen. River Cruise
July 12 Vilshofen, embarkation, welcome cocktails, welcome dinner
July 13 Vilshofen, Passau walking tour
July 14 Linz city tour, Gmunden excursion
July 15 cruise through Strudengau and Wachau, Melk Benedictine Abbey, Duernstein
walking tour, wine tasting at a local “Weingut”
July 16 Vienna city tour
July 17 Vienna, Bratislava city tour
July 18 Budapest city tour
July 19 Transfer to the airport in Budapest Cabin category E, window* sold out
Cabin category D, window* sold out
Cabin category C, French Balcony sold out
Cabin category B, French Balcony $3,231.00
Cabin category A, French Balcony $3,331.00
*close to the water line
Prices are for a 7-night deluxe cruise, per person based on double occupancy.
Prices incl. port charges, daily sightseeing program as outlined in the itinerary
above, use of bicycles, all meals during the cruise, unlimited wine from local
vintners at dinner on board the ship, free internet in your cabin.
The above mentioned offers are capacity controlled. Prices and itinerary are subject
to change at any time without prior notification. Prices do not include travel insurance, tips,
air etc. A deposit of $450.00 per person ($900.00 per cabin) is due to make a firm reservation. A
non-refundable cancellation fee of $100.00 per person will apply. Flight
arrangements are offered by AMA Waterways and can be booked through Hibiscus Travel. R/T transfers
are not included for cruise only bookings but can be purchased through Hibiscus Travel for an
additional fee. A passport, valid for 6 months beyond the completion date of your
travel is required. AMA Waterways and Hibiscus Travel reserve the right to withdraw
interpreter service if the group size is less than 20 guests.
PLEASE CONTACT KERSTIN FOR MORE DETAILS AT
email@example.com or visit our
web site: www.kerstinstravel.com
Kerstin’s Travel is an associate of Hibiscus Travel Hibiscus Travel
Respectfully, Kerstin Fox
The one real option travelers do still have with regard to required travel insurance is picking the type of insurance and the company they wish to have insure them. There are many different companies, and they have all sorts of different policies, so research your choice, and tailor it to fit your particular travel needs. That way, you will have what you need!
This same piece of advice goes for everything else you do in planning your travels. Research is key to safe and fun traveling. It applies as to which countries you may want to go to, what items and documents to take with you, and what local currencies you will be using. For the last, I very much recommend Currate.com. It’s an “all-in-on,” very inclusive website where you can determine what the local currencies are for each country you are visiting, what the current (reliable) exchange rates are, and even what the currencies actually look like.
Currate.com has actual images of over 180 currencies. And with a currency conversion calculator right there, you can check to see just what anything and everything should cost you. This way, you will avoid expensive mistakes, and even sometimes, being cheated. Currate.com even has a mobile phone feature for those whose mobiles have Internet browser capability. Just go to http://currate.com/m.php. If your mobile phone has enhanced features, then why not try http://currate.com/e.php, instead? Again, researching every aspect of your trip is paramount if you want to have a save and fun travel experience. And Currate.com is an excellent site to research all the currency aspects of your travels. Check it out! You won’t be sorry.
International Medical Insurance
U.S. Department of State
Tips For Traveling Abroad (U.S. Department of State)
Medicare For Expats, Or A Mess Of Pottage?
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