Repost from The Points Guy on January 11, 2021

By: Katie Genter

Travelers face various health and safety risks while on the road. And, especially as travel restarts amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many travelers are increasingly aware of these risks. As such, now is a great time to understand what your travel insurance covers and why you might also want to have a medical transport membership before your next trip.

Most travel insurance covers emergency medical evacuation to the nearest hospital that can treat you. But the traveler isn’t always allowed to choose the hospital. And most travel insurance won’t move you to another hospital unless the move is absolutely medically necessary. So you could end up stuck far from home at a hospital you didn’t choose if your injury or illness requires an extended hospitalization.

Luckily, that’s where a Medjet medical transport membership could help. Specifically, Medjet members can ask to be transferred to a home hospital of their choice regardless of whether an insurance company deems the current facility acceptable and regardless of medical necessity. Let’s take a closer look at Medjet memberships, how they differ from travel insurance and why you might want to enroll before your next trip.


What does a Medjet medical transport membership cover?

Before I hit the road as a digital nomad back in 2017, I carefully studied many types of travel insurance and medical transport memberships. In short, there are a lot of options.

If you’re just starting your research, it’s essential to understand that a medical transport membership is different than travel insurance. I’ll discuss the differences in detail in the next section. But first, let’s consider what a Medjet membership covers.

There are two types of Medjet medical transport memberships: MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon. Both memberships include the following medical transport benefits:

  • Hospital-to-hospital medical transfer regardless of medical necessity
    • All-expenses paid air medical transport in the U.S. and abroad (on trips atleast 150 miles from home)
    • Including for COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the 48 contiguous United States, Canada, Caribbean, Costa Rica and Mexico (Medjet may expand this coverage to additional regions)
  • You decide to which medical facility you’ll be moved
    • You can choose one at home or a specialty hospital in your home country
  • Travel medical emergency referrals, monitoring, telephone interpretation and message relay
  • Transfer of mortal remains

Meanwhile, the MedjetHorizon membership offers the following additional benefits:

  • 24/7 travel security response and evacuation services due to political threat, terrorism, natural disaster, pandemic and violent crime
  • 24/7 crisis response to kidnap for ransom, disappearance, wrongful detention, blackmail and extortion
  • Emergency medical cash advance
  • Ground ambulance and specialty hospital transfer (under 150 miles)
  • Trip intelligence and e-alerts
  • Legal referrals

MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon memberships are both available with various coverage lengths. For example, you can buy a short-term membership with 8-, 15-, 21- or 30-day coverage. Or you can buy an annual membership for yourself or your family. Likewise, there are expatriate, collegiate, corporate, domestic and motorcycle options.

Membership prices vary based on the options you select. Luckily, it’s straightforward to price out memberships on Medjet’s website. In well under a minute, I was able to price out multiple options.

For example, I could purchase a one-year MedjetAssist membership for myself that allows multiple international or domestic trips of up to 90 days each for $295. And I could purchase a family version of this MedjetAssist annual membership for $399. If I wanted a one-year annual MedjetHorizon membership that allows multiple international or domestic trips of up to 90 days each, it would be $444 for me or $578 for a family version.



Why you need travel insurance and a Medjet membership

Medjet’s Chief Operating Officer and Vice President John F. Gobbels noted that even before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 10 million travelers were hospitalized every year. The Merck Manual on Foreign Travel states that 1 in 30 people traveling abroad requires emergency care.

So, it’s worth buying a travel insurance policy. Or, in some cases, you may decide to rely on travel protections provided by select credit cards. In either case, you may be eligible for trip interruption reimbursement, medical evacuation to the nearest hospital and payment of initial hospital bills.

But, a Medjet membership can transport you to your hospital of choice at home — which is what many people prefer if they are hospitalized while traveling. Getting home can mean better care and full access to your health insurance network, which can keep you below the relatively low caps on many travel medical policies.

Medical transport benefits also work on domestic travel. Your health insurance coverage might work in other cities. But, similar to travel insurance, it typically won’t get you moved to a hospital closer to home. And, being stuck in a hospital a few states away can be just as unsettling as being stuck half-way around the world.

Gobbels noted that hospital-to-hospital transportation could cost between $30,000 and $180,000 without Medjet. So the cost of a Medjet membership can be well worth it.

Why having a Medjet membership is vital for travel now

A Medjet membership will be more valuable than ever as travelers hit the road post-pandemic.

Firstly, Medjet memberships cover COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the 48 contiguous United States, Canada, Caribbean, Costa Rica and Mexico. So if you are hospitalized due to COVID-19 in one of these countries, Medjet will transport you to a home hospital of your choice for treatment. Of course, the hospital must accept you and your transport must not violate any quarantine requirements.

Additionally, the long-lasting economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic in some regions may result in safety issues. Some travelers may seek out experiences farther off the beaten tourist path once travel resumes, which might increase their risk of safety concerns and threats. Luckily, MedjetHorizon membership offers 24/7 crisis response as well as safety and security protections that aren’t usually included by travel insurance plans.

Related: Making a list and checking it twice: 6 things one TPG editor does before every trip

Bottom line

I’m a relatively experienced traveler. However, the few times my husband has needed to visit hospitals around the world, ranging from Australia to Pakistan, it hasn’t been easy to navigate. Among other issues, we’ve encountered language barriers, a wrong diagnosis and a drastic quality gap between public and private hospitals.

So I can imagine how difficult an extended hospital stay might be in some destinations. As such, I can appreciate the value provided by a Medjet medical transport membership. If you enroll in a Medjet membership, you’ll hopefully never need to use it. But the ability to be transported back to doctors you know, and a hospital you trust, could be extremely valuable if you end up hospitalized far from home.