Going abroad is a huge financial and emotional commitment for expatriates, but even more so if you add maternity to the mix. The importance of maternity coverage is even more important if you will be residing or traveling abroad, especially if your travels will take you to the USA. Travel insurance plans will generally not cover pregnancy-related expenses, especially in the last three months of pregnancy. If a pregnancy has any complications, then you can rest assured your travel insurance policy will not cover any expenses should there be a premature or regular birth. This was made quite clear in the news recently as a Canadian couple purchased travel medical insurance to cover their trip to Hawaii. Only two days after their arrival the mother’s water broke and was prescribed bed rest and was unable to be repatriated back to Canada.
The premature baby was born six weeks later by C-section and was required to stay two months in the neonatal intensive care unit. The medical expenses amounted to over $900,000 along with additional living expenses for the husband. Unfortunately, the travel insurer denied the claim because it noted the pre-existing medical exclusion in the policy because of an earlier bladder infection that was clear before they left on the trip. This huge medical claim illustrates the danger of traveling when pregnant, especially in the USA or elsewhere in the world where medical expenses are expensive.
Expat Financial is often contacted by couples who are traveling while pregnant and we are not able to located travel medical coverage that will cover an existing pregnancy. Some expat medical policies will provide some medical coverage, but it is better not to test the plan and instead stay home. For individual expatriates who are already pregnant and require international health insurance, there are no expat health plans that will cover them. Individual expat health insurance plans that offer maternity coverage will only cover pregnancies after a 10 or 12 month waiting period. Maternity can often be included in a plan or purchased as an optional benefit.
The only way to potentially an existing pregnancy will be to part of a group expat health plan that covers maternity expenses with no waiting period. As demonstrated by the huge medical claim for the Canadian couple in Hawaii, a high policy maximum is also important. If you are lucky enough to be covered by a group expat health plan, make sure you read the fine print as it relates to pregnancy expenses. Caution when it comes to pregnancy is probably the best policy.