Insurance Update – CSANews Summer 2018

Posted on March 31st, 2020 by Medipac

These are very difficult times during which to properly assess risk and to predict costs. This year, we added a modest increase to our Medipac travel insurance rates ‒ partially in anticipation of a better dollar value ‒ but we are finding that medical prices, especially in the U.S., are still running far above the “normal” inflation rates issued by the U.S. government. Hopefully, you will take advantage of the Medipac Early Bird pricing and are already enrolled in the Snowbird Currency Exchange Program.

One of our CSA directors has asked me to revisit a 2012 article and here it is, with minor changes.

It always bothers me when I come across people who have no idea about the dangers of improper health insurance while travelling. There are still many, many people, especially younger snowbirds, who think that their provincial government health insurance plan will pay all of their bills. Wrong! The government normally pays 3-6% of your bills while travelling and the rest is your problem. In the case of a $100,000 bill, this means that you will have a $90,000+ problem.In other words, YOU will have to pay that $90,000+. Just to add insult to injury, the bill is almost always in U.S. dollars.

We at Medipac routinely monitor our competitors and often purchase their policies in order to get a proper look at what they are actually selling. Some of the results are pretty scary if you find yourself having to depend on them, and many of us do. One in particular (from the internet) really upset me. I decided to buy “travel medical insurance” from this very impressive new travel medical insurance site using myself as the guinea pig. I clicked on the “Travel Medical Insurance” button, then I clicked on the “Buy Now” button and then I completed all of the questions advising them of my cholesterol pill and my baby aspirin and my travel plans. After a short delay, up came the rate of $731. Wow, I said to myself, that is much lower than the Medipac price of $855 (before our discounts and credits); there must be something wrong. No one can charge that little for real travel insurance at my age and trip length. After digging much deeper, I determined that they were, in fact, now only selling me trip cancellation insurance. Nowhere along the way did they tell me that they switched me to a different product. How can they switch me from what I was buying to a different product altogether? It was reassuring to know that they advised me to “read my policy carefully,” because they would cover nothing! By the way, that phrase ‒ to read the policy ‒ was for their lawyers, not for you. I am a very sophisticated buyer of travel insurance and I was almost duped. How many seniors are duped in a similar way?

We have talked about the many cases in which a plan will not cover heart and lung problems, or it will have a woefully inadequate limit of $10,000 or $50,000 in coverage. This is very common with employer/employee plans in which the plan changes at specific ages to save money. Coverage reductions starting at age 60 are very normal, now.

One of the worst “abuses” is a “treatment” clause which defines treatment as also taking a medication. When someone asks me if I had any treatment for my little problem from 10 years ago, I would just say “no.” I am taking a normal medication, but I would never consider that to be “treatment” and I would never expect that the pre-existing condition clause would cause me to lose coverage. That last one, of course, is buried in the definition section of the policy and means that you have NO coverage for your pre-existing condition if you are taking a medication, even though they state otherwise. These are very misleading plans and I would call them fraudulent, but they still exist out there and people still buy them. I should not forget the plans, including several credit cards that cover you for multiple things but, after age 60 or 65, provide no travel medical coverage or very limited coverage. You have been advised of this, of course, in a very long, very small-print document. It is usually labelled as “Important Changes to Your Benefits,” but the travel insurance changes are buried deep within the innocuous, seemingly unimportant wording.

Another issue relates to a gentleman whom I met at one of our shows. He approached me and asked, “Why is Medipac so expensive? I would really like to buy it, because all my friends recommend it, but it costs much more than what I am paying.” I gave him several of the above items to consider, but he insisted that he had excellent coverage for a lower price. He also had one or two health problems, so he should have been especially careful that his coverage was effective for him. He seemed to be very concerned and a bit edgy, so I offered to review his existing policy and compare it to Medipac’s policy. He tossed my offer off and said that he did not need the comparison and I asked him “Why?” His response was that he had a wallet card which proved that he had coverage. It turns out, after further discussion, that he had never seen a policy or even a booklet outlining his benefits. A wallet card is NOT travel medical insurance; even an employee booklet is really not enough to properly determine your coverage. Read the real policy! Many of the employer benefit plans have $10,000 limits on travel medical insurance protection, or $50-100,000 lifetime maximums.

And now, a final word for those people who believe that brokers and internet sites which advertise “We will find you the best coverage,” or “We will tailor-make a travel medical policy just for you,” or “We deal with 15 different insurance companies and will find you the best deal” are guiding them in the right direction. Well, that’s not quite true. You see, the only insurance plans that are included in their comparisons are the ones which pay commissions or fees to them. Not one of these so-called comparisons has Medipac included as an option. We do not pay any fees or commissions to brokers or to internet sites. The other unfortunate fact is that no two plans are the same and you really can’t compare them without hours of work on each comparison. So, if you feel that you should use one of these brokers or comparison sites to find your travel insurance policy, be very careful. They cannot compete with Medipac; their expenses are too high because of substantial extra costs and/or poor to consider buying.