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A Medjet medical transport membership is different than travel insurance. Here's why you need both

Jan. 11, 2021
8 min read
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Travelers face various health and safety risks while on the road. And, especially as travel restarts amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many travelers are increasingly aware of these risks. As such, now is a great time to understand what your travel insurance covers and why you might also want to have a medical transport membership before your next trip.

Most travel insurance covers emergency medical evacuation to the nearest hospital that can treat you. But the traveler isn't always allowed to choose the hospital. And most travel insurance won't move you to another hospital unless the move is absolutely medically necessary. So you could end up stuck far from home at a hospital you didn't choose if your injury or illness requires an extended hospitalization.

Luckily, that's where a Medjet medical transport membership could help. Specifically, Medjet members can ask to be transferred to a home hospital of their choice regardless of whether an insurance company deems the current facility acceptable and regardless of medical necessity. Let's take a closer look at Medjet memberships, how they differ from travel insurance and why you might want to enroll before your next trip.

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What does a Medjet medical transport membership cover?

(Image courtesy of Medjet)

Before I hit the road as a digital nomad back in 2017, I carefully studied many types of travel insurance and medical transport memberships. In short, there are a lot of options.

If you're just starting your research, it's essential to understand that a medical transport membership is different than travel insurance. I'll discuss the differences in detail in the next section. But first, let's consider what a Medjet membership covers.

There are two types of Medjet medical transport memberships: MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon. Both memberships include the following medical transport benefits:

  • Hospital-to-hospital medical transfer regardless of medical necessity
  • All-expenses paid air medical transport in the U.S. and abroad (on trips atleast 150 miles from home)
  • Including for COVID-19-related hospitalizations
  • You decide to which medical facility you'll be moved
  • You can choose one at home or a specialty hospital in your home country
  • Travel medical emergency referrals, monitoring, telephone interpretation and message relay
  • Transfer of mortal remains

Meanwhile, the MedjetHorizon membership offers the following additional benefits:

  • 24/7 travel security response and evacuation services due to political threat, terrorism, natural disaster, pandemic and violent crime
  • 24/7 crisis response to kidnap for ransom, disappearance, wrongful detention, blackmail and extortion
  • Emergency medical cash advance
  • Ground ambulance and specialty hospital transfer (under 150 miles)
  • Trip intelligence and e-alerts
  • Legal referrals

MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon memberships are both available with various coverage lengths. For example, you can buy a short-term membership with 8-, 15-, 21- or 30-day coverage. Or you can buy an annual membership for yourself or your family. Likewise, there are expatriate, collegiate, corporate, domestic and motorcycle options.

Membership prices vary based on the options you select. Luckily, it's straightforward to price out memberships on Medjet's website. In well under a minute, I was able to price out multiple options.

For example, I could purchase a one-year MedjetAssist membership for myself that allows multiple international or domestic trips of up to 90 days each for $295. And I could purchase a family version of this MedjetAssist annual membership for $399. If I wanted a one-year annual MedjetHorizon membership that allows multiple international or domestic trips of up to 90 days each, it would be $444 for me or $578 for a family version.

Related: 27 ways to be a healthier traveler

How is a Medjet membership different from travel insurance?

(Image courtesy of Medjet)

Whether you buy travel insurance or rely on a credit card that provides travel insurance, you'll have access to various travel protections. Travel insurance can save you lots of money even if the worst doesn't happen. For example, I've used credit card trip delay protection and delayed baggage coverage on multiple occasions to cover hundreds of unexpected expenses.

Many types of travel insurance also provide emergency medical evacuation insurance. Some premium travel rewards cards even provide emergency medical evacuation insurance as a cardmember benefit. However, this insurance usually only covers transportation to the nearest medical facility capable of proper care. And most travel insurance will only cover your transportation if both the insurance provider and your current hospital agree the move is medically necessary.

Even if you are eligible for transport under your travel insurance, the hospital your travel insurance approves may be far from home and family. If you recover quickly and the hospital releases you within a few days, this may not be a problem. But some injuries and illnesses may require an extended hospital stay. So you could be hospitalized far from home for an extended period of time.

This is where a Medjet membership can help. Medjet members can be transferred to their home hospital of choice, regardless of medical necessity. Best of all, Medjet members don't need to pay extra for the transport, as Medjet covers it as part of their membership. And since Medjet doesn't exclude adventure travel, has very few exclusions and no preexisting condition exclusions for travelers under 75, members can feel confident in their transport coverage.

Related: Comparing built-in travel insurance with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum

Why you need travel insurance and a Medjet membership

(Image courtesy of Medjet)

Medjet's Chief Operating Officer and Vice President John F. Gobbels noted that even before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 10 million travelers were hospitalized every year. The Merck Manual on Foreign Travel states that 1 in 30 people traveling abroad requires emergency care.

So, it's worth buying a travel insurance policy. Or, in some cases, you may decide to rely on travel protections provided by select credit cards. In either case, you may be eligible for trip interruption reimbursement, medical evacuation to the nearest hospital and payment of initial hospital bills.

But, a Medjet membership can transport you to your hospital of choice at home -- which is what many people prefer if they are hospitalized while traveling. Getting home can mean better care and full access to your health insurance network, which can keep you below the relatively low caps on many travel medical policies.

Medical transport benefits also work on domestic travel. Your health insurance coverage might work in other cities. But, similar to travel insurance, it typically won't get you moved to a hospital closer to home. And, being stuck in a hospital a few states away can be just as unsettling as being stuck half-way around the world.

Gobbels noted that hospital-to-hospital transportation could cost between $30,000 and $180,000 without Medjet. So the cost of a Medjet membership can be well worth it.

Related: Will future pandemics be covered by travel insurance? Experts say yes

Why having a Medjet membership is vital for travel now

(Image courtesy of Medjet)

A Medjet membership will be more valuable than ever as travelers hit the road post-pandemic.

Firstly, Medjet memberships cover COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the 48 contiguous United States, Canada, Caribbean, Costa Rica and Mexico. So if you are hospitalized due to COVID-19 in one of these countries, Medjet will transport you to a home hospital of your choice for treatment. Of course, the hospital must accept you and your transport must not violate any quarantine requirements.

Additionally, the long-lasting economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic in some regions may result in safety issues. Some travelers may seek out experiences farther off the beaten tourist path once travel resumes, which might increase their risk of safety concerns and threats. Luckily, MedjetHorizon membership offers 24/7 crisis response as well as safety and security protections that aren't usually included by travel insurance plans.

Related: Making a list and checking it twice: 6 things one TPG editor does before every trip

Bottom line

I'm a relatively experienced traveler. However, the few times my husband has needed to visit hospitals around the world, ranging from Australia to Pakistan, it hasn't been easy to navigate. Among other issues, we've encountered language barriers, a wrong diagnosis and a drastic quality gap between public and private hospitals.

So I can imagine how difficult an extended hospital stay might be in some destinations. As such, I can appreciate the value provided by a Medjet medical transport membership. If you enroll in a Medjet membership, you'll hopefully never need to use it. But the ability to be transported back to doctors you know, and a hospital you trust, could be extremely valuable if you end up hospitalized far from home.

Featured image by (Image courtesy of Medjet)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases