Affordable Care Act: treatment abroad not changed

How does the Affordable Care Act impact people seeking treatment abroad?

Will Travel

Dear Will Travel,

Health plans generally do not cover treatment from hospitals and doctors outside the United States, aside from emergency care.  The Affordable Care Act has standards for covered services and benefit limits.  However, it does not require plans to pay for treatment abroad.

A “Qualified Health Plan” (one that meets all of health reform standards) may not recognize the expense as counting toward the deductible either.  You should check the fine print before assuming that you can “spend” your deductible in Mexico or elsewhere, and have your plan pay its share of the bill.

Some plans have arrangements for high-cost treatments, such as organ transplants, with a selected group of providers.  These plans pay your travel costs to use these providers, and usually pay a greater percentage of the total bill.  These are relatively rare circumstances, however.  It never hurts to ask and find out whether your condition and treatment needs allow you to get these benefits.

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.