Just a few months ago, most experts at U.S. health insurance companies, health reinsurers and benefits brokerage firms who noticed Ebola at all were full of reasons why Ebola was of no practical concern to them and their customers.
Today, Ebola is starting to be a topic of acute interest, especially for companies with multinational employee benefits customers.
Many Western mining businesses and oil and gas exploration businesses have operations in Guinea Liberia and Sierra Leone – the three African countries directly, heavily affected by Ebola-related curfews and employee evacuations. Still more have operations in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal – countries where public health agencies have reported finding few or new cases of Ebola but have mounted aggressive efforts to keep Ebola out.
Logan Payne wrote in a recent report for Lockton Companies, a benefits broker, that workers’ standard health insurance policies should cover any Ebola-related medical expenses.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising health care workers and others who travel to high-risk locations to verify that they have emergency medical evacuation coverage. Typical health plans may not pay for medical evacuation services. Travelers often have to buy evacuation services coverage separately from companies like International SOS, or get the coverage in a travel health benefits package, even if their basic major medical coverage covers health care outside the United States.
EHealthInsurance.com, a Web broker, posted an article answering the question, “Is Ebola covered by my health insurance plan?”
Carrie McLean, a licensed agent, used the article as a chance to explain what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires a plan to cover, why even people with major medical insurance may end up paying some bills, and what might happen to Americans who have medical insurance at home but who travel overseas without thinking about whether their coverage works outside the United States.