Hi friends! Are you as tired of hearing about the unprecedented times we’re living in as I am? If I could get us back to “precedented” times, I would. Since I’m not in charge of that, there are some other ways to protect ourselves, especially while traveling.
I’ve never had to access emergency medical transportation on my travels, but on my infamous round-the-world trip in 2011 (the subject of my forthcoming travel memoir), I came awfully close. Way too many times. There were so many near misses – head-on collisions with drunk drivers and plane crashes in the wilderness and actual revolutions where violence spilled into the streets and I missed a massacre by minutes.
I shudder to think what would have happened if… well. I won’t go all the way down that path. But I got close enough to disaster to know that it could happen to anyone. Even invincible twenty-something me!
Suffice it to say, I don’t leave home anymore without protecting myself from worst case scenarios. Read on for my thoughts on why you need to add a Medjet membership to your packing list.
What’s the difference between Medjet and travel insurance?
One way I do that is via travel insurance. This covers eventualities like lost baggage, delayed or canceled flights and certain illnesses and injuries. Sometimes, travel insurance will cover emergency medical transportation, but when you read the fine print, that transportation may only get you to the nearest hospital. Not necessarily the best hospital. Certainly not the one back home in your neighborhood with your own doctors and family.
And this is where Medjet comes in. If you get sick and are hospitalized far away from home, Medjet gets you back to your own hospital. They take you all the way home, and this includes transport for COVID-19 patients. How many people in 2020 probably wish they’d had emergency medical evacuation when the pandemic hit?
Keep in mind, Medjet is not travel insurance. It doesn’t cover things like baggage delays or canceled flights, so it’s something you’d want to get in addition to regular travel insurance. Since Medjet is a membership and not insurance, you never pay a deductible or any out-of-pocket costs to use the services. There’s no cap on cost and no claims to file. It’s just handled. (Side note: can Medjet create a program where they handle all my other medical stuff? I’d pay handsomely for that.)
What’s included in a Medjet membership?
There are two membership levels to choose from, MedjetAssist and MedjetHorizon. You get the following benefits with both:
- Medical transfer between facilities, even if it’s not medically required
- Your choice of medical facility
- No cost for domestic or international transfers
- Translation services, medical referrals and phone consultations with doctors
- Transfer of mortal remains
MedjetHorizon members get additional benefits on top of those listed above, including:
- Ground ambulance transfer
- Global COVID-19 transport
- Up to $60,000 cash advance (some hospitals require upfront payments for treatment and don’t take credit cards)
Plus, MedjetHorizon members have 24/7 access to FocusPoint International’s global Crisis Response Center, an international network that provides:
- Global evacuation and rescue
- Emergency medical referral assistance
- Legal referral assistance
- Emergency translation and communication with family
Things you never want to think about while traveling like terrorism, kidnapping, political threats, hijacking, natural disasters, extortion, wrongful detention and pandemics are all in the realm of the Crisis Response Center’s expertise. You never think it will happen to you, but sadly it’s all too familiar in the world we’re living in.
It’s a bit like having Liam Neeson on speed dial. There’s a very specific set of skills you’d need in any one of these situations, and MedjetHorizon can actually connect you with the folks with those skills.
Who is Medjet for?
Personally, I’m not leaving the house without a Medjet Horizon membership. But there are some specific instances that it would be extra helpful:
Visiting a remote location? What if you’re on an expedition to the Amazon or searching for polar bears in the Arctic? Wherever medical care is limited, it’s nice to know there’s a way home in case of medical emergency.
Heading off on a mission trip or humanitarian project? Anywhere there’s unrest or even the potential for unrest, you need MedjetHorizon, for sure. You never know when you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and require a quick extraction or intervention.
Doing something adventurous? Regular travel insurance rarely covers the fun stuff – scuba diving, mountain climbing, spelunking… Medjet does not restrict any of these activities.
Have a pre-existing condition? Medjet does not have exclusions for pre-existing conditions, so you can travel with confidence knowing they’ll get you home to the doctors who know you and know how to treat you.
How much does Medjet Assist or Medjet Horizon cost?
The cost varies. For a short term trip, you’re looking at as little as $99 for a week of Medjet Assist. An annual Medjet Horizon membership covering international and domestic travel for me comes out to about $1.30/day, or less than $500.
There are memberships for various lengths of travel: short-term and annual, and for different life stages: families, collegiate, expat, motorcycle, domestic only and even corporate.
Why would you ever need Medjet?
Here are some all-too-familiar experiences:
- Imagine you’re on a cruise and you fall and break your hip on an excursion. A helicopter ride back to the US is going to set you back at least $25,000, and likely will not be covered by personal health insurance.
- We just witnessed a 3-motorcycle accident during our Yellowstone road trip. If those bikers had Medjet Assist for motorcycles, not only would they get emergency transportation to their home hospital, but their bikes would be transported home, too.
- Imagine you’re injured doing some kind of sick adventure activity, when you find out your travel insurance doesn’t actually cover that. Many don’t cover accidents from scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing, hang gliding, shark cage diving, etc. You know, the things that are most likely to get you into a medical evacuation situation. Medjet has no such exclusions.
- I’ve actually been stuck on a remote island with someone in dire need of medical transportation back to the US. The big discussion was how much an air ambulance would cost to get him to a hospital. He died while everyone tried to figure it out.
Is Medjet an extra expense at a time when travel is more expensive than it’s ever been? Sure. But it’s far and away the most important thing you can pack. You pray you never have to use it, but if you have to? It’s priceless.
It’s super easy to sign up for Medjet Horizon or Medjet Assist, whichever one you need in this season of your life. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever used Medjet or if you’ve had a medical emergency while traveling. I’d love to hear about it!