Health Insurance vs Travel Medical Insurance: Do You Know the Difference?

Here are a few questions to consider when deciding between purchasing a health insurance plan and travel medical insurance.

How long are you staying?

If you come to Mexico for a couple of months every year and just want coverage for emergencies, a travel insurance policy should be sufficient because they are designed to be purchased for short periods of time. However, if you plan on staying longer than four months, we recommend a health insurance plan.

Why is a health insurance plan better than a travel insurance policy for long-term expats?

Travel insurance is ONLY meant for emergency hospitalization medical expenses, so any minor expenses, follow-up expenses, expenses not resulting in hospitalization, and preexisting conditions are never covered. With an annual health plan, all of these things are covered (with the exception of preexisting conditions, which are reviewed for coverage on a case-by-case basis).

Additionally, a travel insurance policy has lower limits and many travel insurance companies don’t have direct contracts with local hospitals and doctors, while the majority of health insurance providers do.

For anyone that does not have insurance in their home country or if you´re involved in a severe accident in Mexico, the limits of a travel plan may not be enough to cover all medical costs.

What other considerations are there when comparing a health insurance plan to a travel insurance policy?

A health insurance policy has high insurance limits, they are renewable for life, cover urgent and non-urgent medical expenses and once they have covered an illness, disease or accident, they will also cover recurrences that may arise over the course of the lifetime of the policy.

Travel medical insurance policies have an age limit, after which you can no longer buy that policy even when you’ve bought the same policy for many years. Additionally, some companies reduce benefits as you get older. Travel medical insurance is designed for emergencies or life-threatening situations, so treatments that you may need but that aren’t considered emergencies won’t be covered by the travel plan. This includes things like cancer treatments, hernia surgery, orthopedic procedures, vision, nasal, mental, and cardiovascular issues. Finally, you don´t renew travel insurance policies like you do health insurance policies. You re-purchase them, which means any incident covered in the previous policy will be automatically excluded as it will be a preexisting condition in this new policy.

What about preexisting conditions? Do both plans cover them or reject them?

Travel insurance companies will always exclude preexisting conditions. There are a couple travel companies that offer some options for preexisting, but usually with a very low limit, via a reimbursement, and it must be evaluated by their medical department.

Health Insurance companies evaluate preexisting conditions on a case-by-case basis and their decision can vary from one applicant to another. Two people with the same condition at the same age can receive a different response from the insurance company due to their lifestyle, diet, medications taken, years with the condition, medical reports, etc. In many cases, a preexisting condition can be accepted with an extra premium, extra deductible, a waiting period, or below standard coverage. In other cases, the condition may be excluded.

Our Recommendation

  • Make sure you evaluate your available options thoroughly including coverage, reputation of the company for paying claims in Mexico, and consider the kind of policy you need.
  • What are the pros and cons of choosing one over the other? Don’t make the mistake of choosing a company mainly for the price.
  • When you have a claim, those few hundred dollars you saved could make a huge difference in your experience.
  • It’s impossible that a $500 USD policy gives you the same kind of service, coverage and experience as a $1,000 USD policy.

Our team at Guardian Insurance MX is ready to answer any questions you have regarding your insurance options in Mexico. You can reach us via email at info@guardianinsurancemx.com or request a quote directly from our website www.guardianinsurancemx.com/mexico-medical-insurance/.

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