Medical insurance is one of the most important, if not the most important, things for your trip. Many people tend to minimize its importance for some reason, most likely because they are not fully aware of the implications of traveling without medical insurance.
Therefore, I will elaborate briefly here:
- When you exit Israeli borders, the medical insurance provided by your regular health insurance provider is no longer valid. From this point onwards, anything that may happen to you abroad is your own responsibility.
- It is important to remember that medical care abroad is extremely expensive. For example, one day of hospitalization in the U.S. is approximately $1,800 and this is before taking into account any treatment or surgeries, which may reach sums of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is also without mentioning the countries in which the level of medical care is very low or even dangerous so that you would not even want to be hospitalized there even for free. Therefore, it is critical that you arrange medical insurance before traveling abroad.
Medical insurance covers you in the event of any medical problem up to $1,000,000 and, if necessary, will bring you back to Israel to complete your treatment there. Medical insurance also covers loss of luggage, flight cancellation or cutting your trip short, and the like, depending on the terms of your particular policy.
Where to sign up for insurance:
Now that we understand the importance of insurance, how do we sign up?
There are a number of bodies that provide medical insurance:
- Insurance companies – via travel agencies
- Health care providers (kupat cholim)
- Credit card companies
Credit card companies offer medical insurance to their customers within the framework of their credit card. You must verify, however, what the policy covers. If you check, you may find that the coverage is very minimal. In short, it's free insurance and you get what you pay for.
The health insurance providers (kupot cholim) also provide insurance abroad. For the most part, they offer a sufficient level of coverage, but it is always worth it to clarify the conditions and compare them in light of your own personal medical needs and what they cover.
Travel agencies recommend traveler's insurance like Harel and the like. These insurance companies provide high-level service and broad coverage in the event of medical issues, flight cancellation or cutting your trip short, loss of luggage and other scenarios. In the event of filing a claim, you will have a personal consultant (and not some random person from a call center) who will deal with your personal needs and is interested in getting you full compensation.
Keep in mind: the $10 or $20 that you saved on insurance and instead spent in the duty free shops will quickly fade from your memory, but the grief and anguish that you may face by traveling uninsured will last much longer.