The Importance of Medical Evacuation and Repatriation


Jonathan Perez | Feb 13, 2024 Insurance

In the United States, health insurance is going to be your primary defense against high medical service costs. You can use your plan to visit centers across the country, like Primary and Urgent Care, Specialists, and even Emergency Rooms. However, there is another core benefit that supplements many of the health insurance plans made for international students: Medical Evacuation and Repatriation.

What are Medical Evacuation and Repatriation?

Summarized, these two additions reflect benefits that go beyond regular doctor visits. Medical Evacuation is a form of transportation service if the policy holder needs to be evacuated to a nearby qualified medical facility. This is an emergency benefit that takes into effect when a person is injured or becomes unexpectedly ill and their life is in grave danger.

Keep in mind that the Medical Evacuation benefit primarily applies to coverage for transportation costs, not your medical bills. The purpose of this benefit is to promptly get a person to the correct center (even if it means a transfer from one medical facility to another) to access services from specific personnel.

Once you are transported to the correct center, your health insurance benefits will determine your coverage for that service going forward. To get a better idea of how your insurance can cover you in these cases, you should reach out to your health insurance company to check on your plan benefits.

Medical Evacuation has a lot of flexibility in determining where an individual should be evacuated to. Generally, a person will need to be transported to the closest medical facility capable of providing the treatment needed to improve their condition. They may be transported to a center close to the member, one that is further away but still in the United States, or even one that is in their home country.

One last thing to note is that these treatments must be considered medically necessary in treating a sickness or injury for a doctor to recommend this option.

On the other hand, medical repatriation occurs in cases where an individual has passed away, while still being covered under their policy. This person will need to be transported back to their home country for any funerary proceedings and return of the body to the family.

Other services that are included through repatriation of remains include obtaining the death certificate, coordination with consular services (for any deaths occurring overseas), and transportation arrangements for travel companions needing to help along the process.

Why Are They Important?

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation are an important requirement for international students and their accompanying visitors in the United States. Additionally, any exchange visitors under J1 visas, along with their accompanying dependents, will see that Medical Evacuation and Repatriation are a key set of benefits included as part of the U.S. Department of State requirements.

If you are an international student in the U.S. that wants to opt out of their school health insurance plan, you will generally see that Medical Evacuation and Repatriation are common and usually mandated as per international student requirements. ISO Student Health Insurance offers Medical Evacuation and Repatriation as a benefit of all plans through our website, which meets and exceeds the requested amount by your school or institution.

This benefit is particularly necessary if you are eligible for the Essential Plan in New York State. While this plan provides 100% coverage for a wide range of medical services, it does not have benefits for Medical Evacuation and Repatriation, which you can enroll in directly through our website here.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit www.isoa.org and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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