Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Internationally?

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance plans provide coverage worldwide, though benefits vary depending on your specific plan. Most BCBS members have emergency medical coverage while traveling abroad. Some plans offer more comprehensive overseas benefits, including global networks of providers and support services.

Domestic BCBS Coverage

BCBS is made up of 36 independent and locally operated BCBS companies that provide coverage across the United States. When enrolled in a BCBS plan, members can access care from doctors and hospitals throughout the BCBS national network.

The BlueCard program links all BCBS companies together. This allows BCBS members to get medical services at the pre-negotiated local member rates when traveling or living in another state. For example:

  • A BCBS Alabama member who needs care while visiting California will pay the lower negotiated rate of the local BCBS California plan.

  • A BCBS Massachusetts member who moves to Texas can visit BCBS Texas doctors and hospitals and receive in-network benefits.

Having access to BCBS providers nationwide is a key benefit for members who travel frequently within the United States. Out-of-network care typically costs much more.

International Emergency Coverage

Most BCBS plans provide emergency medical coverage while traveling outside the United States. This includes:

  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
  • Doctor office visits
  • Ambulance transportation

Coverage is for medical emergencies only. You must pay out-of-pocket for any non-emergency care received internationally.

Benefits are usually subject to your plan’s standard copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. Precertification may be required for inpatient hospital stays.

Always check your specific BCBS plan documents for details on covered services, provider networks, and costs when traveling abroad.

GeoBlue Plans

While standard BCBS plans cover foreign emergencies, GeoBlue plans offer more extensive benefits for extended international travel. GeoBlue is the international health insurance division of BCBS.

GeoBlue provides health plans for people living, working, or traveling abroad for longer periods, including:

  • Expatriates
  • International business travelers
  • Foreign nationals
  • International students and scholars
  • Marine and maritime crews

Key features include:

  • Coverage in nearly 200 countries
  • Large networks of carefully selected hospitals and doctors
  • 24/7 multilingual support
  • Evacuation services for critical medical situations
  • End-to-end claims support

In addition to comprehensive medical benefits, GeoBlue plans offer:

  • Dental and vision coverage
  • Life and disability insurance
  • Wellness programs
  • Travel assistance services

Premiums are based on factors like age, gender, health status, and geographic location. GeoBlue offers various plan types and deductible options to fit different needs and budgets.

Federal Employee Program (FEP)

Federal government employees and retirees who have coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program also have access to BCBS plans.

FEP Blue Cross Blue Shield provides comprehensive overseas benefits with three national plan options:

  • FEP Blue Focus
  • FEP Blue Basic Option
  • FEP Blue Standard Option

All three include emergency care while traveling abroad. FEP Blue Basic and Standard Options also give members access to an international network of over 11,000 providers through the BCBS Overseas Assistance Center.

Additional FEP overseas perks:

  • Many in-network providers offer direct billing and cashless access.
  • Same copays/coinsurance as in the United States.
  • Prescription drug coverage.
  • Medical evacuation benefits.

FEP members pay a bit more in premiums to receive robust worldwide benefits compared to regular domestic BCBS plans.

Traveling Abroad with BCBS

BCBS gives members varying levels of international health coverage:

  • Emergencies only: Most traditional BCBS plans cover foreign medical emergencies but members pay out-of-pocket for non-emergency services.

  • Expat & international plans: GeoBlue provides extensive benefits globally including provider networks,24/7 support, and evacuation services.

  • FEP plans: Federal employees get enhanced overseas benefits and provider access through BCBS FEP Options.

Before traveling abroad, always confirm your specific international coverages, network access, and potential out-of-pocket costs with your current BCBS plan. Purchasing additional travel medical insurance can provide peace of mind too.

With BCBS, members can travel knowing they have access to care across the United States and emergency medical protection worldwide. GeoBlue and FEP Options provide the most robust benefits for extended overseas travel.

How GeoBlue Works – Why International Trips Need True International Coverage


Is Blue Cross Blue Shield valid in other countries?

Some health insurance companies also sell travel medical insurance plans. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield sells health plans with international benefits through GeoBlue, which cover emergency and some non-emergency services in foreign countries.

Will my health insurance cover me in another country?

Private health insurance typically doesn’t cover international travel expenses. May 24, 2023, at 4:42 p.m.

Does US insurance work internationally?

Generally, most domestic health insurance policies are not accepted abroad, so there is a benefit to purchasing travel medical insurance as a supplement to your health insurance coverage. The travel medical coverage is only valid while you’re traveling.

Is Blue Cross Blue Shield only in America?

It has affiliated plans in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and licensees offering plans in several foreign countries; it also participates in the nationwide health insurance program for employees of the United States federal government.

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