Know Your Benefits: What to Know About Your Benefits When You Are Traveling Abroad

Hotel Voice — August 05, 2015

Are you planning to travel to a foreign country? Although you don’t plan on getting sick or having an accident, especially when you are on vacation, you will want to be prepared just in case. So while you are covered here at home, don’t expect your foreign medical provider to accept the coverage you have at home as payment.

Many people, including members of our union, mistakenly believe that their health insurance will cover them if they need medical treatment in a foreign country. The fact is that in most cases it won’t, at least not 100% of the coverage.

If you have a medical emergency while you are away from home, it is your responsibility to pay all fees. When you return, submit an itemized bill to the Benefit Funds Office. Your claim for benefits will be processed according to the rules of the Plan. If the claims are payable, bills are reimbursed based on the Fund’s fee schedule that is accepted here in New York. If you must go to the emergency room of a hospital, show your Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield ID card at the hospital. If that hospital participates with any Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, that plan will submit your claim to Empire. Otherwise, you will have to pay the bill and submit it to the Funds Office for reimbursement according to the Plan’s fee schedule. Please understand that the Union’s Health Fund benefit has no control over the fees charged to our members in foreign countries and, as a result, the amount you receive in reimbursement may be far less than the amount you paid to the foreign provider.

Be sure to consider this important information and your other needs before traveling to another country. Many companies offer travel insurance packages that include all of the insurance you will ever need. If you shop around, you can find a one-week package for under $100.00 per person that will include:

  • Emergency Medical and Dental coverage.
  • Emergency Medical evacuation.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment.
  • Trip cancellation.
  • Baggage loss/damage.
  • Visitor to bedside and return of dependent children.
  • Pre-existing condition waiver.

Forgetting your travel insurance when traveling out of the country is not like forgetting your toothbrush or sunscreen. It can be very costly! Please plan ahead.

On a final note, the information provided here can be found on page 19 of the Health Benefits Fund Summary Plan Description booklet. If you do not have a copy of the Health Benefits Fund Summary Plan Description booklet you can obtain one by visiting the Benefit Funds’ Members Services office, 305 West 44th Street, fourth floor. You can also read the Health Benefits Fund Summary Plan Description at the Funds Office website: