Members of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield system have access to the same high quality providers and community-based care as they find in their home coverage state when traveling out of the United States. Thanks to a program created by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of independent plans, health insurance can travel with you overseas. This program allows you, as a current member, to use your identification card from your local plan with doctors and hospitals in over 200 other countries and territories cooperating with this international service.
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How it Works
To secure your ability to receive benefits, you must first verify your worldwide coverage with your plan before you leave the country. This is a safety precaution as benefits are sure to vary in another country. As long as you travel with your plan identification card and have checked with your policy to ensure your overseas coverage, you can use these services. Some services many require authorization from your local company’s office prior to being admitted.
In the case of an emergency while you are traveling, it is important to seek medical attention from the first available facility, then if sent to a hospital, consult the provided number for your international service. If you need medical care that is not an emergency, you are required to make prior arrangements through the international service center to direct you to a hospital or doctor connected to the network in the region. When you contact their service center, a representative will work together with a health care professional to set an appointment with a physician, or even inpatient hospital care if needed for the plan member.
Once you have gone through the verification and appointment setting processes, the way you receive international in-network care should be identical to how it works at home. Participating facilities offer a great deal of comfort and convenience, as they do not charge upfront for inpatient services. As with domestic care, out-of-pocket costs are still necessary on services that your plan does not cover, copays, coinsurance and deductible. Submitting claims is simple, as the hospital completes the process for you.
Another important detail is how the payment and claims process operates when seeking health care out of the country with a non-participating provider. Each non-participating doctor or hospital asks you to provide payment at the time of service, and afterward you fill out an international claim form and send it and the bill for your care to the service center. These forms are available online to print from anywhere, so you don’t need to worry about carrying them around with you (though you could just in case).