In the United States health insurance, unlike many other countries, you can find dozens of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. Hundreds of regular commercial insurance and so many more health insurance plans like managed-care plans – HMOs, PPOs and PPG's. For some travelers, they may have Medicaid, and for those over 65 years have Medicare. All of these different types of plans have many different benefits, costs, deductibles, exclusions and restrictions.
So think before you travel and check your existing health policy to see what it pays for. It may reimburse you for up to 100% of the cost of emergency medical care when you're out of the country, of course, excluding any deductibles or copayments.
For nonemergency care overseas you may be covered but probably will have to call your insurance company or HMO in the United States for all treatments that need to be authorized.
Check with your health plan about this before you leave home because failure to get authorization from your HMO or insurance company may mean you will not get reimbursed if you later file a claim.
If your health insurance policy does not cover your medical cost abroad, or you do not have any coverage whatsoever, then you should consider purchasing a travel health specific insurance policy.
Even if your present health insurance will pay doctor and hospital bills when you're out of the country, you may want to purchase a travel insurance policy to get other important benefits such as coverage for air ambulance transport and on-site medical payment payment.
With some specific diseases like diabetes, COPD, epilepsy, etc when you're traveling it may not be covered so make sure you first speak your health insurance agent before you travel and then see what is covered.
When my father travels he does get travel insurance, not for the benefit of the health insurance, but just in case he does get ill and unable to take the trip at the time he was supposed to travel. This way he can get his money back.