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Medical Insurance for US peregrinos

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
In this jolting thread, https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/cautionary-tale-of-the-importance-of-travel-insurance.51945/ @nidarosa brought home the importance of buying medical insurance while on the Camino.

I have been very negligent in this regard, having bought some coverage only from time to time, but I am now determined to sin no more. I am 67, on Medicare, and know that there could be unpleasant surprises in my future.

@grayland gave some good info on nidarosa's thread for US pilgrims. Things vary tremendously from country to country. Squaremouth.com is a program that gives lots of comparisons, but for me it was very hard to navigate. So, after contact with several people who travel a lot, and a few web searches, I thought I'd give a suggestion. Hopefully others will chime in with other recommendations.

United Healthcare has bought out Medex, which was a very highly regarded travel insurance co. They have a simple-to-navigate website and are very clear about their coverage. Two numbers are given -- amount you will be covered for medical expenses (ranging from $50,000 (maximum allowed if you are over 70) or you choose $100,000, $500,000 or $1,000,000) and $1,000,000 for medical evacuation or repatriation of remains.

Since I will be taking a number of international trips this year, I looked into the annual coverage options. For $240, I get $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million coverage for repatriation-evacuation for a year.

This seems like a very good deal, and since United Healthcare is my Medicare Advantage insurance company anyway and I know they are a good company, it seems like the thing to do for me.

I guess everyone's situation is different, but I think US pilgrims might want to look at United Healthcare and their global health insurance.

Thanks to @nidarosa for giving me the incentive to get responsible about this! Buen camino, Laurie
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
I did some nosing around yesterday, too, and had a hard time finding primary insurer policies that do not include trip cancellation, which ups the cost considerably. Like you, Laurie, I found the Squaremouth site hard to use, as it kept showing me policies with add-ons that I didn't want. So thank you - now I'll know to go direct to Medex.
 

Mark Barnes

Old Engineer
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - September - November (2017)
I walked the Camino Frances Sept-Nov 2017 and thank God I did not have to use the insurance, but I got my travel insurance through AAA. The insurance plan I got through AAA was with Allianz insurance. It was a 50k medical and 1 million medical travel,etc. It cost me $41.00. I did not know at the time anything about Allianz insurance, and still do not but I can tell you while walking the Camino I did see at least five Offices with the Allianz insurance sign over the door. This lets me know that at least in Spain it is a recognized company and since AAA offers it I assume they will pay off if needed.
 
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Penbaysail

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I also got Allianz insurance through AAA for a very reasonable price - something like $54 for 4 months, and that was upgraded coverage (I’m 67). I used a Spanish hospital for a leg injury and received a bill for €288 about 2 months later. I returned to the AAA agent who sold me the policy, and she processed the claim and got Allianz to pay the hospital in Pamplona directly. The bill had no easy method of payment (i.e. credit card), so this was a big help. So far, I’m pleased with the coverage and the service, and I would use Allianz / AAA again.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
When one is shopping for insurance, it's important to attend to the distinction between "we will reimburse you some months after the fact" and "we will provide English-language assistance in country at the time of incident to help you sort through the thicket of administrivia, answer questions, help identify resources, etc." These are not the same! Do not buy one expecting to get the other. Read the fine print closely and ask lots of questions.

On a related vein, I take Allianz insurance through my air carrier when I buy the air ticket.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I live in the UK. As I may make two or three trips abroad in a year I buy an annual travel insurance policy. When a journey is going to take several weeks the cost is often no more than single trip cover for three or four weeks. This covers me for any number of journeys during the year with the very important provision that no one journey is longer than a stated maximum period: here in the UK that tends to be around 31 days for cheaper policies. I do not know if the same practice is standard in US travel insurance though I think it is likely. As I am planning a longer walk for next year I will be paying rather more than usual for a policy which covers journeys up to 90 days at a time. Always check that an annual policy covers you for the full duration of any intended journey.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This covers me for any number of journeys during the year with the very important provision that no one journey is longer than a stated maximum period: here in the UK that tends to be around 31 days for cheaper policies. I do not know if the same practice is standard in US travel insurance though I think it is likely. As I am planning a longer walk for next year I will be paying rather more than usual for a policy which covers journeys up to 90 days at a time. Always check that an annual policy covers you for the full duration of any intended journey.
Good point. I did pay attention to that, and can tell you that United Healthcare Global has a 90 day limit for any one trip. The company they took over, Medex, used to have a 30 day limit unless you paid a supplement, but now the 90 day limit is standard in the UHC policies.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I have had claims experience with two companies over the past 10 years.
Travelguard
Tinleg (through squaremouth)
I would recommend either one without reservation.

To avoid the "trip" coverage in any of the programs...simply put in "0"
as the cost of the trip.

If your trip is off in the future....why not spend a little time now exploring and learning how the policies work. You will be ready when the serious planning starts.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
I did not know at the time anything about Allianz insurance, and still do not but I can tell you while walking the Camino I did see at least five Offices with the Allianz insurance sign over the door.
Allianz is a well respected European insurer base in Munich. As of 2014, it is the world's largest insurance company, the largest financial services group and the largest company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have always used CSA travel protection with great coverage for about $100. Although I've thankfully never needed to submit a claim. I think I will compare it with United and Allianz policies to see who comes out the winner for my June Camino! Thanks everyone, for all the extra input!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Medicare essentially has two forms, the plan offered by the government (which I'm describing in simple terms here as they plan 80% and you pay the rest) and then additional coverage that you can buy to cover that 20% (known as Medigap or Medicare supplement.) Medicare will not pay for anything outside the U.S. or its territories (except a few rare cases it will pay for some treatment in Canada and Mexico.) If you have a Medicare supplement plan you read what your provider says, it may cover you abroad under certain circumstances. My Medigap plan will reimburse me for emergency or urgent treatment only outside their normal area of coverage. And I'm allowed only so much time being outside their zone. Note that this can leave me paying out a bundle of cash (mortgage the house from overseas?) before getting reimbursed at some unknown time in the future.

The Veteran's Administration will pay for some coverage outside the U.S. but it is a somewhat complicated policy. If you don't know that you are covered then assume that you are not until you contact the VA and find out what they will cover you for. Not all VA health care benefits are available to all veterans even if they will cover you for some things. I don't know what coverage retired military will get.

If you are not covered by Medicare or the VA at all then you have to read your health insurance policy and/or travel insurance to see how you are covered.

Oh great! Another item to add to my collection of inappropriate business names. It can join Evergreen Meats, Hope Roofing, and the podiatrist Dr. Skidmore. These are all real businesses in my local area.
We used to live not far away from Long Funeral Service.
 
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andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2012,13,15); Finisterre / Muxia (15); Portugeuse (17); Primitivo (17); Norte (18); Ingles (18)
Kaiser plans cover you for emergency and urgent care anywhere in the world. You'll need to pay the provider directly, though, and Kaiser will reimburse you.
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
Yes, by all means, get insurance that covers travel events that might bankrupt you!

I just had a positive experience with Squaremouth/John Hancock (American Modern Home Insurance-Gold Plan) claim after leaving the Portuguese on Oct 12 with both Achilles blown out. (The cobblestones combined with a BMI of nearly 30 and 74 years with flat feet finally got to me). Their claim paperwork was overly redundant and confusing, but I filed both a Medical Claim and a Trip Interruption Claim. The medical claim was denied as I did not seek care until returning to the USA—coverage ends on the earlier of return or the date specified in the policy application (smaller print!!). I did not seek care in Portugal which would have been reimbursable and would have probably helped with the paperwork on the Trip Interruption claim. They did cover my return airfare since the Urgent Care doctor in Baltimore and again my physician here in Portland both noted to ‘stop walking’—that satisfied them that I couldn’t continue with a walking vacation.

Although I was very happy that they covered Trip Interruption, my insurance belief is to cover only what is truly unaffordable. The husband of one of the ladies in my walking group racked up a $60-80k medical evacuation on a cruise ship for a heart attack—insurance paid. Medicare (and my PPO wrapping it) do not cover anything on foreign soil so there is moderate risk on the Accident and Health coverage and a huge financial risk for Emergency Medical Travel. My policy had a $250,000 medical maximum which is probably sufficient since costs in Europe are nowhere near as astronomical as here in the USA (my 2005 Camino companion blew open an old bicycling kneecap injury and fix cost about eu50 in Pamplona and again in Santiago. My daughter was in a Venice semi-intensive care for 7 days for 'ulcers' with a cost of eu800 (another $3000 back home just for stomach scope for a confirming diagnosis) and again in Buenos Aires in and out of hospital for 4 days with adult chickenpox for about $50. I got dental implant last year in Costa Rica for about $1000 which was bid here in USA for $3500.) Point is that coverage is needed but the scale is lower than needed in the USA.

Many of the Covered Benefits are affordable risks—baggage, baggage delay, Itinerary Change, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, etc. Trip Cancellation and Interruption is in the middle—I just covered NYC-LIS but had a very low fare from Vayama (itinerary Change with them is another (ugly) story) so my coverage/risk was well under $1000. And most of us are just covering airfare since our land costs are pay-as-we-go. An expensive tour has huge up-front costs that need to be covered including Missed Connection and issues with traveling companion so high economic risk there.

Next time, I will get the rider for ‘Trip Cancellation for any Reason’ if it is affordable, just to make any claims easier.

Understand that for the insurance business model to be profitable, they need (1) to avoid insuring anyone who might make a claim (underwriting): old folks and pre-existing conditions; and (2) to minimize any claims payments. So, read and understand the ‘fine print’ for coverage, processes and claims. My paperwork experience would have been easier if I had sought treatment in Lisbon.

Point is: get medical coverage but spend the time to know what you are really covering and what you really need-- and what the Terms and Conditions are—and follow them closely.
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
I did not know the VA ‘might’ cover me. I am 100% disabled so is possible. Retired military are covered by Tricare and in checking their site it seems they will cover you in Spain, but you pay first and are reimbursed later. I sent them an Email and will post their reply when I get it. I was concerned that they might have a ‘fair and reasonable’ clause and I could find nothing on their site about transportation. Probably ship you to a military hospital in Germany or Rota.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I agree with everyone on this thread. I am retired and 71 years old; I have the AARP UHC's Supplemental Plan N which provides some enhanced coverage while I live in Europe from time to time. I also have been purchasing the Allianz travel insurance every time I book a flight for the past 3 or 4 years, for $50 t0 $100 it could be invaluable.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
Keep in mind that the "current" procedure for most of the hospitals (and many of the small local clinics) is to copy your passport and then you will get a bill long after returning home. They do not have a local system of billing for foreigners and those outside of the European healthcare network.
The billing will be either very low or extremely high....it seems to be done in an office far away from the location where the care was provided.
We have had both extremes.

The point is that you should immediately contact your insurer and start a claim. Ask for a billing at time of care...but very unlikely that you will get one. If you do..it may just be a partial one and another may arrive after you return home. Be sure you keep the claim open.

This has pretty much been the policy for about the last 5 years. Prior to that it was unusual for foreigners to even be billed as there was no system set up to do it. It was hit and miss.
This led to the "myth" that pilgrims receive free medical care on the camino.
There are still many who experienced the fortunate earlier system and continue to post the erroneous information. Some fall through the cracks today and escape billing....but don't count on it.

The erroneous posts and "myths" can present a very false picture to new folks that the travel medical insurance is not needed.
 

frida1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
I have used Travelguard, and the option for medical and vac is pretty reasonable. I will say, though, that 2 years ago, I forgot to get the insurance. I broke my kneecap on the Portuguese camino, and for $100 everything was taken care of. After two years, I don't think I'm going to receive a bill. I was lucky, I guess, and glad I didn't need to be sent home in a special plane or seat, although the full leg cast was not very comfortable on a long flight to the US!
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
VA site basically says your %age of disability is not important. They cover what your %age is for only. Nothing else. I am individually unemployable for my knees, feet and back, not sure if they count, though. Safe bet seems to be going with the aftermarket insurers, rather than ‘hoping’ the gov’t will take care of you!
 

natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
Camino Inglés (2017)
[HUMOR] Oh great! Another item to add to my collection of inappropriate business names. It can join Evergreen Meats, Hope Roofing, and the podiatrist Dr. Skidmore. These are all real businesses in my local area.
:D

Laurie, thanks for a good informative post. I've bookmarked it for future reference!
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
In this jolting thread, https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/cautionary-tale-of-the-importance-of-travel-insurance.51945/ @nidarosa brought home the importance of buying medical insurance while on the Camino.

I have been very negligent in this regard, having bought some coverage only from time to time, but I am now determined to sin no more. I am 67, on Medicare, and know that there could be unpleasant surprises in my future.

@grayland gave some good info on nidarosa's thread for US pilgrims. Things vary tremendously from country to country. Squaremouth.com is a program that gives lots of comparisons, but for me it was very hard to navigate. So, after contact with several people who travel a lot, and a few web searches, I thought I'd give a suggestion. Hopefully others will chime in with other recommendations.

United Healthcare has bought out Medex, which was a very highly regarded travel insurance co. They have a simple-to-navigate website and are very clear about their coverage. Two numbers are given -- amount you will be covered for medical expenses (ranging from $50,000 (maximum allowed if you are over 70) or you choose $100,000, $500,000 or $1,000,000) and $1,000,000 for medical evacuation or repatriation of remains.

Since I will be taking a number of international trips this year, I looked into the annual coverage options. For $240, I get $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million coverage for repatriation-evacuation for a year.

This seems like a very good deal, and since United Healthcare is my Medicare Advantage insurance company anyway and I know they are a good company, it seems like the thing to do for me.

I guess everyone's situation is different, but I think US pilgrims might want to look at United Healthcare and their global health insurance.

Thanks to @nidarosa for giving me the incentive to get responsible about this! Buen camino, Laurie
In this jolting thread, https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/cautionary-tale-of-the-importance-of-travel-insurance.51945/ @nidarosa brought home the importance of buying medical insurance while on the Camino.

I have been very negligent in this regard, having bought some coverage only from time to time, but I am now determined to sin no more. I am 67, on Medicare, and know that there could be unpleasant surprises in my future.

@grayland gave some good info on nidarosa's thread for US pilgrims. Things vary tremendously from country to country. Squaremouth.com is a program that gives lots of comparisons, but for me it was very hard to navigate. So, after contact with several people who travel a lot, and a few web searches, I thought I'd give a suggestion. Hopefully others will chime in with other recommendations.

United Healthcare has bought out Medex, which was a very highly regarded travel insurance co. They have a simple-to-navigate website and are very clear about their coverage. Two numbers are given -- amount you will be covered for medical expenses (ranging from $50,000 (maximum allowed if you are over 70) or you choose $100,000, $500,000 or $1,000,000) and $1,000,000 for medical evacuation or repatriation of remains.

Since I will be taking a number of international trips this year, I looked into the annual coverage options. For $240, I get $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million coverage for repatriation-evacuation for a year.

This seems like a very good deal, and since United Healthcare is my Medicare Advantage insurance company anyway and I know they are a good company, it seems like the thing to do for me.

I guess everyone's situation is different, but I think US pilgrims might want to look at United Healthcare and their global health insurance.

Thanks to @nidarosa for giving me the incentive to get responsible about this! Buen camino, Laurie
When would this be an issue? Isn't Spain on socialized medicine. Two ears ago, we were in Italy and needed hospitalization. The service wasn't good, but the bill was $0.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
When would this be an issue? Isn't Spain on socialized medicine. Two ears ago, we were in Italy and needed hospitalization. The service wasn't good, but the bill was $0.
Hi, Walking Lover,
Spain does have national health care but it is for Spanish citizens and residents. As @grayland explained in this thread, you can expect to be billed for health care you receive in Spain. It is much cheaper and at least as good as US health care, so you probably won't be shocked by the sticker price, but my health insurance plan won't reimburse me for any medical expenses incurred overseas.

More than the cost of medical treatment in Spain though, I am moved to buy insurance because I am now pushing 70. Don't mean to sound morbid, but if something serious happened while I was walking and I had to be medically evacuated, the bill for that is at least $250,000. With this insurance I don't have to worry about that.

If you hang around the forum long enough, you will read enough stories of people who have been injured walking the Camino and who were either very thankful to have had travel medical insurance or very sorry that they didn't have it. I hope never to need it, of course! Buen camino, Laurie
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
[HUMOR] Oh great! Another item to add to my collection of inappropriate business names. It can join Evergreen Meats, Hope Roofing, and the podiatrist Dr. Skidmore. These are all real businesses in my local area.
We have a "Crooks Brothers Auto Sales" where I live...seriously! :)
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
A US citizen who is a federal govt employee or jubilado (retired), may have health insurance that helps in Spain. Our insurance has a website that lists doctors, hospitals and dentists with whom they have an agreement; if we have a problem we can go to those specific facilites, call the insurance company and they will take care of payment. I mention this because we purchased health insurance for our first two trips not knowing this information. There may be others who also have coverage; I only found this accidentilly and called our insurance company to verify.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
When would this be an issue? Isn't Spain on socialized medicine. Two ears ago, we were in Italy and needed hospitalization. The service wasn't good, but the bill was $0.
As @biarritzdon posted above ^, you were very lucky.

I received a $8500. bill from Italy a year ago after returning home. The travel medical insurance paid it.

The costs and coverage from the various companies vary greatly so it is a good idea to take the time to compare and research.

The cost will be based on your age and the number of days you will be out of the country.

I recommend you start by using a $zero trip cost to start with so you can see the price of the medical/evacuation insurance without any of the trip insurance.
I have found that the trip insurance is usually the larger part of the estimate.
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
To my (European) ears, "socialised healthcare" sounds like a politically loaded expression but that may not be the case for other ears. Universal healthcare (which means the same thing I guess) does not mean that a country provides "free" healthcare to everyone in the universe but only to their residents who are properly and legally enrolled in the national system and to temporary visitors if they have a similar legal status. How doctors and hospitals get paid and reimbursed for their expenses, is different from country to country.

As already explained, some countries are not yet as well organised as others for the purpose of issuing bills and claiming their money back from people who need urgent care and are not members of their national health care insurance system or have equivalent status as visitors. But increasingly, they are getting their act together. So the fact that you weren't billed for hospitalisation in Italy two years ago does not guarantee that you will not get billed next year in Spain should you require medical care.

People who can afford long-distance flights can probably afford to pay for ambulant medical care or even minor hospitalisation. Where it gets really expensive is medical repatriation flights. I certainly make sure these days that I have additional insurance to be covered for this. And I'm not even from the US.
We also carry insurance for medical repatriation. It is large expense for the two of us, but far less than what it would cost in the event of a disaster. It is good for a year anytime we travel more than 150 miles from so it is a good deal for us. If you want to pay more they will even evacuate in the case of a terrorist event, though that seems less likely to happen than a broken leg.
 

alipilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2005, 2007; Madrid/Frances 2011; 1/2 VdP 2012; Portugese Litoral 2019; Finisterre/Muxia 2019
When one is shopping for insurance, it's important to attend to the distinction between "we will reimburse you some months after the fact" and "we will provide English-language assistance in country at the time of incident to help you sort through the thicket of administrivia, answer questions, help identify resources, etc." These are not the same! Do not buy one expecting to get the other. Read the fine print closely and ask lots of questions.

On a related vein, I take Allianz insurance through my air carrier when I buy the air ticket.
I usually buy the Allianz insurance too when buying flights but am I mistaken in believing they only will reimburse you for your flight costs if you make a claim? Does the insurance provide full medical & evac & repatriation for such a lowly sum?
 

JudyInTexas

Big chairs are fun!
Camino(s) past & future
September (2016)
Thank you for always thinking about others.

AAA also offers travel insurance. On next camino I will shop around.

Buen camino.
We ended up getting our policies from World Nomad for medical, medical evacuation, and repatriation; because, they only needed start and end dates. We flew to Madrid and then took a ship home. Most of the other travel insurance companies didn’t know how to handle that.
 
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alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
I have been buying travel insurance for 15 years now. I use squaremouth’s site to compare prices and benefits. Awesome site. We’ve used CSA, Travelex, Travel Guard, Seven Corners, and others. It depends on the nature of trip and what we want covered. Trekking in the Himalayas at 12,000 ft required a lot more evacuation insurance than our trips to Spain:) Our scuba diving trips are covered for medical under a special divers insurance so we just needed trip cancellation for our upcoming Grand Cayman trip.

My health insurance through Aetna covers overseas emergencies but as already been stated, I have to pay up front first.
One important thing to remember is that you want Secondary insurance, not primary. If you have no insurance then it will automatically become your primary. But if you have private insurance coverage, that will be billed first and the travel insurance will cover your deductible and copay since it pays second. Essentially removing your liability for out of pocket costs. You can get secondary insurance that also advances the cost of admission to a hospital if required. Many people are confused and think they need primary because they erroneously think it’s better.
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Portuguese 2016
GR10/Norte/Primitivo 2017
Chemin LePuy: 2018
After my 2nd camino during the summer of 2016 I had a bike accident in Germany that required an emergency room visit. Fortunately all I needed were seven stitches and the requisite shots, and wound treatment. Two months later the bill arrived in the mail, 115 euros. Stateside that bill would have easily been 20x more. Depending on your needs, the price of medical care in some European countries is remarkably reasonable, if you happen to be un/underinsured.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
After my 2nd camino during the summer of 2016 I had a bike accident in Germany that required an emergency room visit. Fortunately all I needed were seven stitches and the requisite shots, and wound treatment. Two months later the bill arrived in the mail, 115 euros. Stateside that bill would have easily been 20x more. Depending on your needs, the price of medical care in some European countries is remarkably reasonable, if you happen to be un/underinsured.
It is true that the cost of medical care can be very low by US standards for simple treatment
But... be aware that some have received billing after returning home that were excessive even by our prices.

Insurance is always a good idea.
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
When would this be an issue? Isn't Spain on socialized medicine. Two ears ago, we were in Italy and needed hospitalization. The service wasn't good, but the bill was $0.
All European countries have a form of universal healthcare, often free at the point of use - for their own citizens and citizens of other European Union countries. However, if I travel outside of the UK - this only covers immediate medical treatment and not, as others have pointed out, medical evacuation home, which can be hugely expensive. So, my wife and I have travel insurance to cover us both for treatment and medevac.
The National Health Service in the UK has become very twitchy in recent years about "Health Tourists" and tries to make sure it is reimbursed for treating non-EU citizens. I imagine Spain is the same.
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
Keep in mind that the "current" procedure for most of the hospitals (and many of the small local clinics) is to copy your passport and then you will get a bill long after returning home. They do not have a local system of billing for foreigners and those outside of the European healthcare network.
The billing will be either very low or extremely high....it seems to be done in an office far away from the location where the care was provided.
We have had both extremes.

The point is that you should immediately contact your insurer and start a claim. Ask for a billing at time of care...but very unlikely that you will get one. If you do..it may just be a partial one and another may arrive after you return home. Be sure you keep the claim open.

This has pretty much been the policy for about the last 5 years. Prior to that it was unusual for foreigners to even be billed as there was no system set up to do it. It was hit and miss.
This led to the "myth" that pilgrims receive free medical care on the camino.
There are still many who experienced the fortunate earlier system and continue to post the erroneous information. Some fall through the cracks today and escape billing....but don't count on it.

The erroneous posts and "myths" can present a very false picture to new folks that the travel medical insurance is not needed.
Thanks Grayland for a valuable post. The only comment I have is that when I attended the emergency department at Burgos hospital, they not only insisted on copying my passport, they insisted on a copy of my travel insurance before they would agree to offer me treatment. I always carry it in my backpack, ready if needed.

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Leon - Santiago (2015); Ingles (2016); Baiona - Santiago (2018); Pamplona - Burgos (2020!)
Thank you for this discussion! Husband and I are going to Paris in January for my 60th, and reading this (and the other thread of the poor peregrino with the broken pelvis!) reminded me that stuff happens and that we shouldn't travel uncovered, so I went to Squaremouth and bought a policy to cover us. Feeling very grown up and responsible now.
 

Gaddong

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2018) CF SJPDP April 22, to May 27.
In this jolting thread, https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/cautionary-tale-of-the-importance-of-travel-insurance.51945/ @nidarosa brought home the importance of buying medical insurance while on the Camino.

I have been very negligent in this regard, having bought some coverage only from time to time, but I am now determined to sin no more. I am 67, on Medicare, and know that there could be unpleasant surprises in my future.

@grayland gave some good info on nidarosa's thread for US pilgrims. Things vary tremendously from country to country. Squaremouth.com is a program that gives lots of comparisons, but for me it was very hard to navigate. So, after contact with several people who travel a lot, and a few web searches, I thought I'd give a suggestion. Hopefully others will chime in with other recommendations.

United Healthcare has bought out Medex, which was a very highly regarded travel insurance co. They have a simple-to-navigate website and are very clear about their coverage. Two numbers are given -- amount you will be covered for medical expenses (ranging from $50,000 (maximum allowed if you are over 70) or you choose $100,000, $500,000 or $1,000,000) and $1,000,000 for medical evacuation or repatriation of remains.

Since I will be taking a number of international trips this year, I looked into the annual coverage options. For $240, I get $500,000 in medical expenses and $1 million coverage for repatriation-evacuation for a year.

This seems like a very good deal, and since United Healthcare is my Medicare Advantage insurance company anyway and I know they are a good company, it seems like the thing to do for me.

I guess everyone's situation is different, but I think US pilgrims might want to look at United Healthcare and their global health insurance.

Thanks to @nidarosa for giving me the incentive to get responsible about this! Buen camino, Laurie
Thanks for sharing, this is great help. I am doing camino de frances April to May. I have Allianz travel insurance (via Alaska Airlines) which includes $25K medical/dental and $50K for medical transport. At the end I will stay 5 days in Spain and 5 Days in France. My ticket is Seattle to Paris round trip. My question is am I covered during my stay around Spain?
 

Texas Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017 summer)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
I usually buy the Allianz insurance too when buying flights but am I mistaken in believing they only will reimburse you for your flight costs if you make a claim? Does the insurance provide full medical & evac & repatriation for such a lowly sum?
The key here is that if you just check the "trip insurance" button on the plane reservation screen, your policy limit is the price of the ticket for trip interruption (never mind that a sudden one way ticket home will possibly run more) and I didn't end up trying to file for DH's injury last year as when the bill arrived it was for around E56...I just called my bank (USAA) and asked the nice lady to please send a wire for that amount...the wire fees and the conversion were about as much as the bill, but I wanted to get it taken care of quickly. And it was outpatient treatment, with ancillary purchased stuff (those nasty Euro style crutches and some meds) were not that awfully expensive. When we got home, we got some of the American style crutches that go up to the armpit which were more comfortable for him, and we promptly made an appointment with the bone doctor and took him the copy of the Xray picture. Medicare and medigap picked up the US portion of the doctor bills. So basically I didn't need to carefully explore the limits on medical care. The Allianz policies will cover trip delay if your flight is cancelled because of fog, and I remember that there is repatriation coverage but it's been awhile since I looked at it.
The take-away of all this is *read the policy carefully.*
Best to all.
 

Mark Barnes

Old Engineer
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - September - November (2017)
great to know from someone who used it.

I also got Allianz insurance through AAA for a very reasonable price - something like $54 for 4 months, and that was upgraded coverage (I’m 67). I used a Spanish hospital for a leg injury and received a bill for €288 about 2 months later. I returned to the AAA agent who sold me the policy, and she processed the claim and got Allianz to pay the hospital in Pamplona directly. The bill had no easy method of payment (i.e. credit card), so this was a big help. So far, I’m pleased with the coverage and the service, and I would use Allianz / AAA again.
 

LisaLoo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019)
Thank you! That was really helpful. That is exactly what my question was about. Lisa
 

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