Health insurance is a feature of most modern-day healthcare systems, although its usage varies considerably from country to country.
In some countries like the United Kingdom health insurance and private medical treatment is on the periphery of how people access healthcare, whilst in other countries like the United States it is the bedrock of how people can access all types of medical treatment.
This is important because people often confuse health insurance with travel insurance, as well as personal accident insurance.
Generally speaking, a health insurance policy will not cover someone outside of their own country, although there are some exceptions to this.
All types of health insurance policies are designed to cover some type of medical treatment as well as a possible stay in hospital. Terms, conditions and costs vary widely depending upon the type of policy that is in place.
The benefits of a health insurance policy are subject to the terms and conditions of the policy, which will carefully stipulate how and when medical treatment may be obtained by the policyholder.
People recognise that health insurance may only apply within their own country, but also believe that policies can be extended to cover treatment abroad.
This can lead to real problems, especially in the field of what is known as medical tourism where people travel abroad for elective or planned medical treatment in another country because it will be considerably cheaper than in their own.
A health insurance policy will not normally cover this cost, and medical tourism is virtually always excluded from travel insurance as well which can have serious and unexpected costs and logistical problems.
If people are unsure, they should talk to their health insurance provider as to what type of coverage if any might be included for overseas travel, and if any doubt to arrange a significant travel insurance policy as well.