Before buying any insurance, you need to make sure few basic things:
* PPO Network: Most comprehensive plans from US have PPO network. e.g., Atlas America Insurance has First Health PPO network. It has got very huge number of providers in the network(some 475,000 doctors, and 4,500 hospitals in US). Very widely recognized PPO. When you go to those providers, they will bill insurance company directly and charge you only network negotiated fee.
Whenever you buy insurance, you have to ask whether there is any network. If they say, you can go to any doctor, you have to ask "I can go to any doctor. But who is going to accept it?" If they say, everyone. Then, first ask the hospital where you have the insurance from, where claim is going to occur and whether they would accept it, bill directly or not. If they say no, no matter what agent/insurance company says, it is not going to help you.
* Insurance card: As most of you know, whenever you go to the doctor, first thing receptionist ask is 'give me your insurance card' which you get if you buy from US. Ask any company whether they issue any such card. In absence of such thing, providers would generally be not willing to bill insurance company directly, and rarely overseas.
* Claims/administration: Even if the claims are adjusted in US, ask whether
administrator has actual reserve of money to pay or they have to get it from insurance company first. And if later is the case, if administrator in US can't first pay you/provider until they get money from actual insurance company. And all that can take time, sometime months, and meanwhile, collection agencies may already be after you.
* Customer Support: Ask about working hours for emergencies, and for admin hours. Whether there is any toll free number, whether you have to call the insurance company overseas before going to the doctor etc.
* Coverage type: Make sure you understand whether the coverage is fixed or comprehensive. This is not explained many times. Some times, coverage is comprehensive below some age (like 55) and fixed after some age(e.g. above 55). Please clarify that first.
* Cost: While this is an important factor, please do not make it the only factor into consideration before buying it. Many times, what you pay is what you get.
* Renewal: Ask whether the plan is renewable in case you are not sure how long the person is going to stay. If the person is initially planning to stay for 6 months, and decides to extend for another 6 months, whether the policy can be renewed. (To the best of our knowledge, Indian law does not allow any insurance company in India to insure person for more than 6 months who is staying/visiting abroad.)
* Refund: Ask whether there is any refund in case of early departure from US because of whatever reason.
Also, please read http://www.insubuy.com/guide/visitor...e-overview.jsp that will help you understand the process.
If someone is saying that you need to go to hospital instead of a doctor, check whether there is any outpatient benefits (such as doctor's office visit, outpatient prescription drugs, x-rays etc.) are covered or it is just hospitalization coverage.
And whichever agent you are talking to (US or India), ask them whether they are licensed insurance agent, what kind of professional experience they have. If you are buying through some travel agent in India, he may not be aware how healthcare system works here in US.
Also, from whomever you buy, ask what kind of mediation or representation or other support someone will be able to do in case of any problem later. If the agent is in India, ask how they will provide service in US.
If you have any further questions, please post them here or call us at 1-866-INSU-BUY