Posted by Elizabeth Casey
Planning to hit the road this travel season? You’ve got a lot to do! You’ll have to book your travel, lodging and activities, pack and be sure your home is looked after while you’re gone. That’s a lot to think about, and the list goes on. With so much to do, it’s easy to overlook one item that might prove crucial: ensuring that you will be covered if you need medical care while traveling.
Most Blue Cross Blue Shield members can rest easy since Blue Cross Blue Shield companies provide Members access to the largest hospital and physician networks in the United States, which includes 96 percent of all hospitals and 92 percent of physicians nationwide. And if your extended travel plans take you abroad, you can ensure you have access to quality care through GeoBlue .
If you aren’t sure what’s covered, it’s a good idea to call your Blue Cross Blue Shield company to find out what your benefits are if something goes awry while on vacation. When traveling within the United States, most Blue Cross Blue Shield members will be covered under the BlueCard program, which connects all 37 individual Blue Cross Blue Shield companies so that members can enjoy access to the savings the local Blue Cross Blue Shield plan has negotiated with its doctors and hospitals.
For example, if a member of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, whose Plan includes the BlueCard program, falls and breaks his arm while hiking in Yellowstone, he will be charged the rate Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming has negotiated with the local hospital rather than paying the steep fees he would otherwise encounter. Likewise, a BCBS Wyoming member who falls ill in Dallas would be charged the rate BCBS Texas has negotiated with its local providers. It’s one of the many benefits of belonging to the nation’s oldest and largest health insurance system.
If your plans include international travel, GeoBlue has an extensive network of options to meet your needs when living or working abroad for an extended period of time. Though many Blue Cross Blue Shield plans cover international care in emergency situations, GeoBlueplans offer the most complete set of benefits and access to services like emergency medical evacuation, which might not be covered by your regular plan.
Here are a few steps you can take to take charge of your health while traveling:
Within the United States
1. Call your BCBS company to find out what your benefits cover while traveling.
2. Always carry your current Blue ID Card.
3. To find nearby doctors and hospitals, call BlueCard Access at 1-800-810-BLUE (2583) or visit the Blue National Doctor & Hospital Provider Finder.
4. Call your Blue Plan for precertification or prior authorization if necessary. Refer to the phone number located on your Blue ID card.
When Traveling Abroad
1. Verify your international benefits with your Blue Plan before leaving the United States, or purchase a GeoBlue plan.
2. Always carry your Blue ID card.
3. If you need to locate a doctor or hospital, or need medical assistance services, hotlines are available 24/7. You can reach the BlueCard Worldwide Service Center at 1-800-810-BLUE (2583) or call collect at 1-804-673-1177. If you’re a GeoBlue member, call collect at 1-610-254-8771, or 1-800-257-4823 from inside the U.S.