How do ex-pats, liveaboard sailors and people living on cruise ships pay for their medical expenses? The availability of quality, cost-efficient medical care is a major consideration for those seeking the life of a global citizen. A travel lifestyle is a lifelong dream for many, yet as with the tides, life is not always perfectly ‘smooth-sailing’. This puts forward the question about paying for medical care abroad. Storylines examines some of the options.
International Private Health Insurance
With the rise of people choosing full-time global travel, expatriation and digital nomadic lifestyles, select private insurance companies now offer the option of international medical insurance (such as Zion HealthShare or policies offered by Insurance Consultants International) with comprehensive worldwide coverage for individuals and families living outside of their home country for a year or longer.
International health insurance works similar to medical insurance in the United States, except coverage is expanded to include the country one is currently residing in or visiting at the time of need. This also applies to living at sea. Plans may include inpatient and outpatient care, 24-hour emergency assistance and emergency evacuation, among other services.
Medical Tourism & Out-of-Pocket Costs
Medical tourism, in which patients travel to another country for health care services, has become an increasingly common phenomenon in the last decade. A 2018 commentary by The American Journal of Medicine estimates the number of medical tourists from the United States to be 14-16 million in 2017, largely driven by the significantly lower cost of healthcare in other countries. Even when purchasing prescription drugs, US citizens are looking to other countries to save on cost.
Emergency Coverage Membership Programs
An alternative to full international medical insurance are opt-in membership programs that specifically apply to medical emergencies. Companies such as MedJet and Global Rescue offer medical evacuation via air transport to bring members to their preferred hospital when the need arises. The idea behind this is that travelers may choose to be brought to a hospital of their choice where private insurance may cover them, or to a nearby reputable hospital near their country of travel, where the quality of healthcare services are high yet costs are comparatively low.
Storylines Onboard Medical Team
Apart from global private insurance, emergency coverage membership, or medical tourism, residents also enjoy baseline healthcare and wellness services onboard MV Narrative courtesy of the Storylines onboard medical team.
The team is led by Medical Director Dr. Brian Martin, a specialist in the area of Optimal Living & Aging. He is joined by a diverse medical team composed of registered medical doctors trained in emergency medicine, physician assistants, nurses, dental hygienist and other professionals and specialists.
Together, the Storylines medical team is able to attend to cases such as general maintenance care for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions as well as emergency medicine for acute coronary syndromes, cardiac and respiratory failure, infection processes, anaphylaxis, trauma and orthopedic injuries. Costs for services are being evaluated. Wellness visits are included with the annual maintenance fees and a bespoke health insurance plan is in the works for Storylines residents.
A Hybrid Approach
With these options available, the most suitable approach to healthcare would depend largely on preference. Residents onboard may even consider a hybrid approach to health care working with the Storylines medical team for everyday health and wellness needs with an emergency membership coverage for unexpected scenarios, American health insurance for costs incurred within the US and a personal health fund for out-of-pocket medical services in low-cost countries.
In summary, traveling the world expands the options and opportunities for quality, cost-efficient healthcare and medical services. Global travelers enjoy the freedom to curate their own personal approach based on what provides them the most comfort and peace of mind.
In healthcare, as in experiences, the world becomes your oyster aboard Storylines MV Narrative.
Related post: Medical insurance for international travel