Can/should we use trip insurance as our primary medical insurance?
July 24, 2013 7:09 AM   Subscribe

In 6 weeks' time, my husband and I are quitting our jobs to go on a 2-3 month road trip around the USA before moving to Europe. I have some questions about travel/trip/health insurance for folks who may have done this or something similar. Is it sensible or possible to use travel insurance as our primary health insurance?

Quitting our jobs means we lose our health and dental insurance. However, there are companies where you can buy 2 or 3 months' worth of coverage at a time (coming out around $650 for both of us for 3 months).

As part of our trip we have already paid a rather large $ amount for an 8-day Grand Canyon rafting trip. The company we booked with have suggested trip cancellation insurance which I have been looking into (around $300 for both of us). Most of these cover trip cancellation for various reasons (weather, accidents, etc) but also emergency medical.

It occured to me that if we are paying trip insurance for that week, we may actually be better off buying it for the whole 2-3 months and using it as our primary health insurance. We're both healthy and, touch wood, we'd only need emergency medical coverage. This is coming out around $800 for both of us for 3 months.

So, this looks sensible, right? But I'm new to this so - what do you think? What am I overlooking? What have you done or what would you do in this situation?

If it matters, we are both US citizens, will be residents of NC at the time and the road trip will cover ~20 different states.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Trip cancellation insurance usually means that you get the money back for your trip if you have to cancel for an emergency medical reason, it doesn't mean that it will pay for your emergency medical treatment.

What you want is possibly Travel Insurance, not Trip Insurance. Travel Insurance is an insurance plan designed to cover medical issues while travelling though most plans are for international travel but there might be someone that does domestic (can't imagine why that would be cheaper than just buying a high deductible individual policy). Trip Insurance is designed to give you your money back for the trip itself if you can't go for one of the VERY specific reasons listed on the policy.

$650 for three months of coverage for two people sounds extremely reasonable and probably a much better bet than travel insurance. Why does $800 sound more reasonable than $650? I'm confused on that part.

Do not worry about dental or vision Insurance, just get medical.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:34 AM on July 24, 2013

Check into Blue Cross. You should be able to get a high deductible plan for the two of your in that same price range. The plan I had came with 3 "free" appointments per year. Free meaning that I didn't have to pay off the $5000 individual deductible before I got any benefits. Something like that might be perfect as if you do need to see a doctor once you'll be able to do it for the co-pay.
posted by COD at 7:40 AM on July 24, 2013

Do you qualify for COBRA coverage from your job(s)? If so, you usually have 60 days in which to elect coverage, which, if you elect during that time it is retroactive to your separation date (with payment of the premiums). When leaving a previous job to start a business, I did this. I ended up not needed the coverage, and I had my new plan take effect as of the 60th day (and since I had comprehensive coverage w/in the past 60 days, preexisting conditions were covered). So I saved the $800 in fees; but if I had been in a car accident or something, I would have paid the $800 and had coverage.

Did you give your notice yet? Depending on how your health insurance works, you often get coverage through the end of the month in which you leave (so leaving Sept 30 = cancelled immediately; leaving Oct 1 = coverage through Oct 31). Look into what the terms are for your policies.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:42 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Very bad idea. A big part of the reason to have real health insurance is for catastrophic and chronic health problems. Those would likely end your road trip and possibly preclude a move to Europe leaving you uninsured, unemployed and probably unhomed.

I'd suggest moving to Europe first if possible and then doing your 3 month trip as you should be able to quickly qualify for far more sane European health care in most places and they cover a lot of travel health expenses and you will also be able to continue with your current life plans even if something serious or chronic crops up which may not work out for you if you are on American health insurance.

Don't be fooled into a false sense of security by being healthy 'now'. Almost everyone is healthy before they are not.
posted by srboisvert at 8:07 AM on July 24, 2013

Forgoe trip cancellation insurance-- it is usually kind of a scam, get the short term insurance, which is cheap as you think.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:12 AM on July 24, 2013

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