Can you travel to the USA without a vaccine?

Category: ESTA Eligibility | 0
Can you travel to the USA without vaccine?

 Until May 11, 2023, the answer to this question would have been no. From May 12, 2023, however, non-immigrant, non-citizen visitors to the United States who arrive by plane, sea, or land no longer have to provide proof that they were fully vaccinated against the dreaded Covid-19.

Will I be allowed to enter the U.S. if I had COVID-19 recently?

Yes, you will be allowed into the U.S. once your isolation period has ended. Check the CDC website for more information about precautions, such as wearing a mask in the presence of others and being tested for the disease. If you had COVID-19 in the recent past, and your doctor recommends that you wear a mask, you should not travel on public transportation, including planes, trains, and busses, unless you will be able to wear the mask the whole time while in the presence of other people.

Is the cost of being treated for COVID-19 covered by travel health insurance?

Claims related to epidemics, expected events, fear of traveling, or expected, known, or foreseeable events are typically not covered by such a policy. If you are covered, the cover might also vary from state to state.

Until further notice, although COVID-19 is not covered by the majority of plans, a few insurers are presently accommodating the following types of claims:

Under Emergency Medical Transportation and Emergency Care Benefits: Emergency medical transportation and emergency medical care for a client who falls ill with COVID-19 during his or her trip.

Under Trip Interruption or Trip Cancellation Benefits: The costs involved with trip interruption and trip cancellation if a client should contract COVID-19 before or during their journey.

Under Trip Cancellation Benefits: Non-transferable and non-refundable expenses related to trip cancellation for those who bought their plans before January 22, 2020, for components of the trip that take place in South Korea, Mainland China, or the Veneto or Lombardy regions in Italy.

Because of the way the pandemic evolved during the last couple of years, however, quite a few insurers have now updated their policies to make provision for COVID-19 coverage. In May 2021, for example, Allianz issued a press release saying that they have added costs related to the epidemic to their most popular travel health insurance plans. Other insurers soon followed this example. Your best option is to make 100% sure whether your travel health insurer will cover the costs if you contract COVID-19 while in the United States.

Are all travelers to the US required to have travel insurance?

From a purely technical point of view, the answer is no. If you will be visiting the U.S. as a tourist, for example, there is no U.S. legislation that requires you to have health insurance.

The cost of healthcare in that country is extremely high, though, so although it is not mandatory for visitors to the U.S. to buy medical insurance, we strongly recommend that you do.

A simple doctor’s consultation in the United States can easily cost hundreds of USD. If you are involved in an accident, and an ambulance has to be called, just the trip to the emergency room can amount to thousands of USD. This does not even begin to cover the cost of hospitalization and medical treatment.

Without health insurance, you will be personally responsible for all these expenses. Depending on the scenario, this can quickly reach tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of USD.

What exactly is covered by travel health insurance for tourists?

As a general rule, all travelers’ health insurance plans for the U.S. will cover at least these costs:

  • Emergency services, e.g., the total ambulance costs
  • The cost of the emergency room
  • The cost of hospitalization, i.e., for the room alone
  • The cost of prescription medication/drugs
  • Doctor’s consultations
  • The cost of X-rays and laboratory tests
  • The cost of any surgical procedure deemed necessary by your doctors
  • Physical therapy that a doctor has prescribed

These costs are, however, typically not covered by the typical health insurance plan:

  • Pre-existing Conditions
  • Maternity
  • Dental
  • Accidental dismemberment or death

Is there anything important I have to keep in mind before purchasing Travel Health Insurance for the United States?

Buying travel health insurance for the U.S. can be confusing even for locals, let alone overseas visitors. Therefore, before choosing a travel health insurance plan, you should make 100% sure that you have considered all the important factors.

You should e.g., be aware that not all health insurance policies provide the same amount of coverage. Coverage can range from as little as $25,000 to a million (or several million) dollars. The total coverage refers to the maximum amount the insurance firm will pay for all your trip-related medical expenses combined. As such, the higher the coverage, the more expensive the policy will typically be, and vice versa.

It is best to select a plan where the policy maximum is reasonable, given the time you plan to remain in the United States. If, for example, you will be staying for a few months, the policy maximum should obviously be more than if you only intend to stay for a week.

What kinds of travel health insurance plans are available for temporary visitors to the United States?

When it comes to coverage, there are basically two kinds of travel health insurance policies: those with fixed coverage and those providing comprehensive coverage.

Travel health insurance policies with fixed coverage

This kind of travel health insurance policy has a fixed amount that will be paid by the insurance firm for every medical procedure, irrespective of how much or little it costs.

Let us, for example, assume the policy covers a fixed amount of $10,000, and you have to undergo a surgical procedure that costs $60,000. In that case, you will be required to pay the balance of $50,000 yourself (depending on what the deductible is.)

Travel health insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage

In the case of this kind of travel health insurance plan, the insurer will pay a specific percentage of the cost of covered medical procedures up to a certain maximum. For any costs over and above that amount, the firm will pay 100% of the total cost up to the maximum stipulated in the policy agreement.

The way it works is that the insurer will first subtract the deductible* from your claim, and after that, it will typically cover between 80% and 90% of the costs up to the maximum set out in the policy document. After that, it will pay 100% of the costs up to the policy maximum**.

Note that some policies require you to pay a deductible* whenever you submit a claim, while for others, you only have to pay a single deductible* for the entire policy. These policies are typically more expensive.

* The term deductible refers to the amount that you have to pay from your personal funds toward the cost of any medical procedure before the insurer starts covering you. For example, if you incur medical expenses of $10,000 during your trip and there is a $2,500 deductible, you will be required to pay the first $2,500 of the claim. The insurer will pay the balance of $7,500 up to the policy maximum.

** The term policy maximum refers to the maximum amount the travel health insurer is going to pay for all covered medical expenses combined. This amount is different from one insurance plan to the next. The higher the policy maximum, the more you can expect to pay for the plan.

What determines the cost of a travel health insurance plan?

The cost depends on mainly three factors.

The amount of and the type of coverage you would like to buy

As we mentioned earlier, comprehensive travel health coverage plans are more expensive than those that provide fixed coverage. Apart from that, some plans cover a wider array of medical emergencies and procedures.

Some plans only kick in the day you arrive in the United States. Others also provide coverage while you are still traveling. The bottom line is that the more coverage you would like, the more expensive the travel healthcare insurance you buy will typically be.

The duration of the policy

The cost of the travel health insurance policy you buy will also be directly related to the duration you want coverage for. A 1-week policy will obviously be much cheaper than one that provides coverage for three months.

The age of the covered individual or individuals

The sad truth is that the older you are, the more you are going to pay for travel health insurance. Senior citizens typically have to fork out more for the same coverage (or even a lower amount of coverage) than a younger individual.

The worst part is that the majority of health insurers do not even sell travel health insurance to people who are 70 years old or older. If your parents will soon be visiting the United States, they will specifically have to look for a policy for elderly people, which is undoubtedly going to be relatively expensive.

Travel health insurance and pre-existing medical conditions

Not every health insurer provides coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. For example, if you suffer from heart failure, they will typically not cover the cost of your medication while you are visiting the United States. That is because travel health insurance policies are typically created only to cover the cost of incidents or emergencies that happen while you are traveling, not pre-existing conditions.

However, a handful of travel health insurers sell plans that cover costs related to the sudden, unexpected onset of pre-existing conditions. Here, the cost of the plan will also reflect the higher risk involved for the insurance firm.