International medical insurance offers several options not commonly found in regular policies. One of these options is medical evacuation. Medical evacuation covers the costs related to moving a sick or injured person from an area with limited medical care to either a better hospital nearby, or to a hospital in the policy holder’s home country.
Exact coverage varies between international medical insurance policies. Most cover transportation to a hospital near the policy holder’s home. Some require and pay for transportation to the closest hospital that can effectively treat the patient. Examples of costs covered include ambulance or air transportation for the patient and a companion, medical treatment between hospitals, return transportation after release from care, and required medical supplies while in transit. In case of life threatening illnesses or injuries, a medical team including doctors and nurses may also be covered.
Anything excluded from the general international medical insurance policy may also be excluded from medical evacuation. Usually those exclusions include pregnancy complications, so-called extreme sports, illegal activities, or preexisting conditions. Evacuations from some locations may not be covered due to difficulty of evacuation or for legal reasons: cruise ships during ocean passages, war zones, or foreign prisons.
Again, coverage varies by policy. Limits may be as low as $5000, but $50,000 per incident is more common. Some international medical insurance policies either don’t include medical evacuation coverage but offer it as an option, instead. Policies with lower limits may also offer optional upgrades, or additional coverage.
Everyone may not need evacuation coverage. People who will be traveling to large cities in developed countries with access to first class health care would most likely not require it. Missionaries or other people traveling to areas with less access to health care, however, should consider medical evacuation coverage a need. While trip ending injuries or illnesses may not be common, the cost of coverage is very low compared to the potential cost of evacuation or substandard care.