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Health Insurance

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJdPP to Astorga (Apr 2018)
Astorga to Santiago (Sept 2018);Camino Ingles (2018)
#1
I'm not sure this hasn't already been asked, if so, please be patient with me.
I'm a US citizen who walked the Camino Francis in April and took very sick in Astorga. I tried to get medical attention but the clinic I was sent to refused to help. They asked for health insurance - I only have US health insurance. Even though I had cash and credit card, it didn't work. Therefore, I had to fly home the next day. I'm headed back to complete my camino in September and want to be sure I have some sort of health care insurance in case I get sick again (oh no!).
Help -- what do you all do to avoid this problem?
Many thanks --
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#4
If you are of Medicare age, many supplemental plans provide coverage when traveling outside of the US. If such applies, check the details of your supplemental plan to see if that is included.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJdPP to Astorga (Apr 2018)
Astorga to Santiago (Sept 2018);Camino Ingles (2018)
#6
If you are of Medicare age, many supplemental plans provide coverage when traveling outside of the US. If such applies, check the details of your supplemental plan to see if that is included.
It does apply....I have BC/BS full coverage as a retired fed. I'll check with them. Many thanks
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#7
It does apply....I have BC/BS full coverage as a retired fed. I'll check with them. Many thanks
You're welcome. When I signed up for Medicare this year and was reviewing supplemental plans, international medical travel coverage was one of the things I looked for and closely questioned insurance representatives about. I confirmed everything that was told to me by carefully examining what was stated in each plan's documents. (There were only two supplemental plans available in my area).

As an example, the supplemental plan I choose has a requirement that for non life or limb threatening emergencies, a phone call must be placed to a 24/7 access phone number prior to receiving treatment. They will then make all the arrangements, including needed transport, to the closest medical facility for treatment or stabilization of serious injury or illness. For life threatening emergencies the number is contacted after being stabilized and prior to a hospital admission, if I am conscious and able to do so.

They can provide a translator to help with communication with the medical staff. They will provide the facility with any information needed about reimbursement for treatment. For treatment that is more intensive or complex than that facility can provide, transport to the nearest appropriate tertiary treatment center will be arranged when stable enough to travel.

It also covers medical evacuation costs to get back home, and the cost to bring a family member to your location while hospitalized.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJdPP to Astorga (Apr 2018)
Astorga to Santiago (Sept 2018);Camino Ingles (2018)
#8
That sounds fabulous. I'll look into it. Thank you so much. Hopefully my next camino will be problem free.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#9
This may not be helpful but here is our 2015 CF experience at two clinics in Castile and Leon, Sahagun and Astorga. We had travel health insurance that would reimburse us after filling out paperwork at home. In Sahagun the problem was food poisoning and the clinic took down our ID information. We thought though that while hospitalization cost clinics were free. Off we went. Later, in Astorga, a visit to the clinic was needed for tendonitis. We since learned that clinic visits cost. Here though they asked for insurance information which we gave them.

A few months after getting home we got two bills through snail mail where each was for about 80 euros. Banks would charge 40 dollars each to make the international payment. An email got the C&L health services to consolidate the two bills. The travel service insurance paid us. Paying C&L was a real pain though due to US laws.

The service we got in Spain for these relatively simple ailments was good, fast and cheap by US standards. However we had to do all communication in Spanish. The second time I wrote about the problem and it paid off as I showed it three times, at the desk, to a nurse and then to the doctor.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJdPP to Astorga (Apr 2018)
Astorga to Santiago (Sept 2018);Camino Ingles (2018)
#10
WOW. quite a story. When I went to the clinic, they didn't speak English and I didn't speak Spanish, But I told them I had Blue Cross Blue Shield and they would pay. That didn't seem to work. I asked to pay cash, that didn't work. When we traveled in Portugal several years ago, my husband took very sick. The hotel told us to go to a private hospital, which we did. They took a credit card and then admitted him to the hospital. Upon return to US, BC/BS paid reimbursed us. It worked like a dream. So not sure what documentation to show in Spain in order to get treatment at a clinic. I know our insurance will work. it's a mystery to me. I guess I need to learn Spanish!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
Roncesvalles-Sarria Sep-Oct 2017
(2019: Planning to return!)
#11
WOW. quite a story. When I went to the clinic, they didn't speak English and I didn't speak Spanish, But I told them I had Blue Cross Blue Shield and they would pay. That didn't seem to work. I asked to pay cash, that didn't work. When we traveled in Portugal several years ago, my husband took very sick. The hotel told us to go to a private hospital, which we did. They took a credit card and then admitted him to the hospital. Upon return to US, BC/BS paid reimbursed us. It worked like a dream. So not sure what documentation to show in Spain in order to get treatment at a clinic. I know our insurance will work. it's a mystery to me. I guess I need to learn Spanish!
I have never heard of anyone being refused treatment at a Spanish medical clinic or hospital, insurance or not. It's much more common for people to think they have received free treatment and then to receive a bill after returning home, as clinics are often unable to process payment on the spot. They normally just go ahead with treatment, as conversations about payment are not generally the first step. It's possible the language barrier caused a major communication breakdown, but it's nonetheless worrying that you were unable to receive treatment when ill. And terrible that you were left with no choice but to fly home. I hope this delay in receiving appropriate care didn't exacerbate your condition too much.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
#12
Can someone clarify? I also thought that the Spanish clinics or hospitals would take a credit card to pay the bill which then you would get reimbursed for by US insurance. Is that not the case or are there nuances here? Also, for those who are interested there are a couple of ways to pay a Spanish bill via your US checking account that don't cost an arm and a leg (excuse the comparison). You still should look at the fees since they vary quite a bit.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#13
Can someone clarify? I also thought that the Spanish clinics or hospitals would take a credit card to pay the bill which then you would get reimbursed for by US insurance. Is that not the case or are there nuances here?
In 2015 Castile and Leon's health services definitely would not accept a credit card payment for a bill sent to the US (even with a surcharge for doing so.)
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#14
Can someone clarify? I also thought that the Spanish clinics or hospitals would take a credit card to pay the bill which then you would get reimbursed for by US insurance. Is that not the case or are there nuances here? Also, for those who are interested there are a couple of ways to pay a Spanish bill via your US checking account that don't cost an arm and a leg (excuse the comparison). You still should look at the fees since they vary quite a bit.
No especially smaller towns and centros de salud do not have the necessary administraton and IT to operate with credit cards.
We in Belgium do not work with creditcards either seeing our very efficient social security system takes care of us.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#15
We in Belgium do not work with creditcards either seeing our very efficient social security system takes care of us.
A word of warning to Americans: neither Medicare nor the Veterans Administration will pay for service outside the US except for some very special circumstances. If you use a Medicare supplement plan it may or may not cover you. Check your plan' s details.
 

LindaR

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk Camino Frances spring or fall 2016
#16
You're welcome. When I signed up for Medicare this year and was reviewing supplemental plans, international medical travel coverage was one of the things I looked for and closely questioned insurance representatives about. I confirmed everything that was told to me by carefully examining what was stated in each plan's documents. (There were only two supplemental plans available in my area).

As an example, the supplemental plan I choose has a requirement that for non life or limb threatening emergencies, a phone call must be placed to a 24/7 access phone number prior to receiving treatment. They will then make all the arrangements, including needed transport, to the closest medical facility for treatment or stabilization of serious injury or illness. For life threatening emergencies the number is contacted after being stabilized and prior to a hospital admission, if I am conscious and able to do so.

They can provide a translator to help with communication with the medical staff. They will provide the facility with any information needed about reimbursement for treatment. For treatment that is more intensive or complex than that facility can provide, transport to the nearest appropriate tertiary treatment center will be arranged when stable enough to travel.

It also covers medical evacuation costs to get back home, and the cost to bring a family member to your location while hospitalized.
Wow! What insurance plan do you have?
I go on Medicare July 1 and am evaluating supplemental plans right now... and yours sounds perfect! I'm walking the CF in September and good international coverage is a priority for choosing my plan.
Thanks in advance for your response.
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
#17
Be aware that Spain has both a private and public health sector. Private hospitals will definitely be mindful of ensuring payment will be guaranteed. Public hospitals probably less so in case of emergencies and from stories heard are reasonably inexpensive compared to the US. Minor issues such as blisters may not even be charged in public health centres. Spaniards also consult their pharmacist for advice and treatment much more than we do in the UK or the USA.
The US State Department has a list of travel/medical insurance companies on the Travel Advisory section of their website.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago May 2018
#18
When I booked airfare on Travelocity, they offered me travel insurance. I bought it, although I also have Health Partners through my work and they cover out-of-network expenses. I figured I was good for all contingencies.

Last week, I got blisters somewhere between Saria and Santiago. I went to urgent care - can't recall the town. I thoughtfully had saved images of my travel insurance card, medical insurance card, and all medications in my Google Drive in the cloud. Useless. Couldn't access the cloud from inside the clinic building, wifi data network too weak to connect outside the building. Clinic wouldn't let me pay with credit card, cash in Euros or cash in dollars (I offered all three) because Spain has socialized medicine so everyone must have a medical card or be listed in the computer as indigent. The doctor said it's a crime for him to accept payment directly from the patient.

After half an hour of pantomime discussion (I speak little Spanish and they spoke little English), the doctor over-ruled the intake nurse, treated my feet and told me to email a copy of my insurance card when I reached my hotel with strong wifi, which I did. Could have saved a lot of headache with a paper copy of the travel insurance card.

Buy the extra travel insurance. Print and carry a paper copy.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
#19
I'm not sure this hasn't already been asked, if so, please be patient with me.
I'm a US citizen who walked the Camino Francis in April and took very sick in Astorga. I tried to get medical attention but the clinic I was sent to refused to help. They asked for health insurance - I only have US health insurance. Even though I had cash and credit card, it didn't work. Therefore, I had to fly home the next day. I'm headed back to complete my camino in September and want to be sure I have some sort of health care insurance in case I get sick again (oh no!).
Help -- what do you all do to avoid this problem?
Many thanks --
I just got a rider on my United Health Care for 214. My husband did the same for 95. I am over 70; he is 66.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF15, CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF17, CP17, CdN, CM, CF18, LePuy19
#20
AARP/United Health Care has a Plan N, I think that’s it which provides cover overseas but there are time limits. So I always do the Allianz travel insurance as a back up. In 2016 when I was unable to walk, they reimbursed me for my flight and some prepaid accommodations.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#21
Before you purchase travel insurance through the airline or anyone else, check and see the exact coverage it provides. Travel insurance doesn't necessarily cover medical costs. I use Insuremytrip.com to compare policies before purchasing.
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
#22
If you are new to travel insurance please be mindful that, like all insurance contracts, it is incumbent on us to be fully open and thus declare all previous health issues. This allows the insurer to price for risk. Undisclosed health issues may lead to the policy being voided even if the matter was unrelated to the claim.
Check also the coverage for maximum days as many policies are for trips up to 30 days. Your home insurance may also have a clause about not leaving your home unattended for more than 30 days. I have a neighbour or family visit my home whilst we are on the Way.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#23
A word of warning to Americans: neither Medicare nor the Veterans Administration will pay for service outside the US except for some very special circumstances. If you use a Medicare supplement plan it may or may not cover you. Check your plan' s details.
Absolutely spot on correct, Rick. Each supplemental plan is different based on the insurance company and what tier of coverage one chooses when signing up for that company's product.

As with all things, it is up to the consumer to determine what the product you have chosen actually does, and what it does not do.

With my Supplemental plan, the insurance provider had three differing tiers, each of which has a different cost and coverage. I made sure that the insurance provider I chose, and the plan's Tier level I decided on, fully covered travel outside of the subscription area both domestically and internationally.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#24
Wow! What insurance plan do you have?
I go on Medicare July 1 and am evaluating supplemental plans right now... and yours sounds perfect! I'm walking the CF in September and good international coverage is a priority for choosing my plan.
Thanks in advance for your response.
Health Alliance. Keep in mind that due to Federal prohibitions for insurance products to be automatically sold across state lines, an insurance product offered in one state may not be available in another state. And even in a single state, an insurance company may opt out of selling their products in all counties.

In Washington State, as an example, there are around 8 different companies allowed, by the Insurance Commission, to sell plans in our state. Out of those 8, only two plans are available in the counties near to my location.

I spent time interviewing each company's local customer service representative, looking closely at their plan's information, posed a ton of 'what-if' questions for the purpose of looking for loopholes, and confirming any oral answer I was given by having the CSR point to the actual section in the written plan which repeated, in writing, what I was verbally told.
 
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
#25
I'm not sure this hasn't already been asked, if so, please be patient with me.
I'm a US citizen who walked the Camino Francis in April and took very sick in Astorga. I tried to get medical attention but the clinic I was sent to refused to help. They asked for health insurance - I only have US health insurance. Even though I had cash and credit card, it didn't work. Therefore, I had to fly home the next day. I'm headed back to complete my camino in September and want to be sure I have some sort of health care insurance in case I get sick again (oh no!).
Help -- what do you all do to avoid this problem?
Many thanks --
We are from Australia and last year took out travel insurance to cover our travel in Europe. We commenced our Camino on 26 September from SJPP. On the 28th after we left Roncesvalles my husband fell and fractured his ankle in two places. It was the end of our Camino.
I called the emergency services and when they arrived the first thing they wanted was our insurance papers. Once they saw the papers and checked my husband’s name was on it, they moved into action. They inserted a cannula and a drip and he was stretchered off the track. He was taken to hospital in Pamplona and operated on that evening. We stayed in a hotel close to the hospital for seven weeks. During this time, he had x-rays and stitches removed and commenced rehabilitation. We returned to the UK to stay with our daughter before rturning home. All expenses were met by our insurance company. It also included further checks at a UK hospital and Physiotherapy while in the UK.
It is ‘peace of mind’ having insurance when travelling anywhere in the world.
We plan to return to complete the Camino the s Septmber.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Frances (x4), Finisterre, Aragon, Via de la Plata, Portuguese 2011 -2015. Hospitalero 2015
#26
If you are unable to speak Spanish, I suggest you download Google translate with voice. This enables you to speak into the phone and the app will translate what you say into Spanish either in writing or verbally. I found this out when I went to a clinic on the VDLP. I found it fascinating
 

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