In Google, at press time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed up sixth in a list of search results for “medical evacuation insurance.”
Three companies had paid ads that showed up at the top, and two companies that got their sites ranked higher through old-fashioned search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
Another eight companies had paid ads in a sidebar on the right.
The Google search results rankings matter this week because Ebola has suddenly put a spotlight on the potential value of solid medical evacuation benefits.
The benefits are available through some rich major medical policies, better travel insurance policies, many stand-alone programs, and air travel carriers. They are often little-noticed. When they are noticed, consumers may think they are aimed more at mountain climbers than at ordinary workers and tourists.
They got moments in the spotlight a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and after an earthquake devastated much of Haiti. Now the CDC itself is urging travelers who may visit areas affected by Ebola to find out whether they have adequate medical evacuation insurance coverage. On another page, CDC officials list International SOS and MEDEX as possible sources of information, along with government agencies and nonprofit groups.
CDC officials are starting to take questions about reports of a confirmed case of Ebola in Dallas, a report of a suspected case in Dallas, and reports of two suspected cases in Washington, D.C., but, for now, most of the people known to have Ebola, or to be affected by the outbreak, are outside the United States.
Here’s a look at the five programs that come at the top of the list in Google search rankings performed in an “incognito window” that, apparently, sends little information about the users’ search history and preferences to the search engine.
The company offers a range of membership programs, including a regular program for travelers up to age 75 and a diamond membership for travelers ages 75 to 85 who are in good health.
FrontierMEDEX comes second, with another paid ad. It sells individual, family and group coverage underwritten by carriers such as ACE American Insurance Company and Pan-American Life Insurance Company.
For U.S. residents traveling outside the United States, for example, it can provide a policy with a fixed $100,000 benefit, a fixed $25 deductible, for policyholders up to age 85.
3. AeroCare Medical Transport System Inc.
AeroCare, the company with the third paid ad in the results, is another provider of air ambulance and medical evacuation services. It talks on its home page about its efforts to work with insurance providers as well as with hospitals, case managers, patients and families.
The company says it has provided air ambulance services for 18 years, for about 10,000 patients.
4. Travel Guard
The Travel Guard unit of AIG (NYSE:AIG) ranks fourth with a page that promotes both travel medical insurance and medical evacuation service. The company says it has been in business for more than 20 years, has covered millions of travelers, and offers emergency services around the clock.
Image: AP photo/Mark Lennahan
FrontierMEDEX — the company that ranked second in the Google results with a paid ad — also ranks second in the regular search results. “Prepare for the Unexpected,” it urges consumers on its website — and it seems to have gotten itself ready for any new interest generated by the Ebola outbreak by having two entries in the top five Google medical evacuation insurance search results.