Imagine that delicious, spicy dinner you just left in a village several miles from New Delhi is suddenly giving you some distress. The next morning you wake up, and your stomach is still crying for help.

You don’t want to miss the upcoming day of sightseeing you had planned in such detail. You can visit the nearest doctor, but you have no insurance and not enough local currency to cover your visit and the rest of your trip.

…A health plan would be ideal at that moment.

For world travelers, most agencies, study abroad programs, volunteer programs and fellowships already require participants to have travel insurance as part of the package. Anyone going on an international trip will definitely need a health plan that works worldwide – or at least in the country of your choice.

There are several solutions for this, and they may not always be out-of-control expensive. If you take the risk of leaving the country without coverage, you may be endangering your life and your resources if you do need a doctor in a foreign country.

International Health Plans and Rates

Firstly, if you are a member of a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association plan, you can sign up for an international membership (your domestic ID card will not suffice) and their coverage will connect you to providers in more than 130 countries.

Cigna and Aetna are other medical insurance carriers serving individuals and families worldwide. As Aetna has an international individual plan quote engine, I tested out the feature to get an idea of rates for a 30-year-old American visiting Thailand.

It looks like the best deal for this traveler is $160 per month (or $1,817 per year) with a $2,500 deductible. This plan covers up to $500,000 of care including emergency medical and dental, evacuation and repatriation, hospitalization, and preventive care at 20% coinsurance after deductible. The same plan is offered in lower deductibles for a higher premium, but nothing is offered for a copay.

For as much as a domestic health plan in most cases, this plans is going to cover you in and out of your home country.

Travel Insurance

A travel insurance plan is also a good idea, as it encompasses all types of potential complications while you’re overseas, including illness and injury, misplaced luggage, theft, missed flights, travel agency bankruptcies, canceled tours, terrorism, emergency evacuation, and more. Sounds ideal, but how much will it cost?

Travel insurance featuring a medical benefit it a lot cheaper. Depending on your wants and needs, travel insurance for a 30-year-old American going to Thailand is significantly less than an international health plan at around $50. However, the medical benefit is not always as comprehensive as health insurance carrier.

The positive side is that for the less costly option, you can get a plan that covers emergencies and office visits with zero coinsurance. If you prefer having more spending money when you travel, this is the best solution, and should protect your health sufficiently in another region.

For more information on health insurance plans, rates, and cost-effectiveness, click here.