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Air ambulance benefits matter

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Sometimes I write about specific products for because I really know something about them.

Sometimes, the main reason I write about products, such as travel medical insurance with medical evacuation benefits, is that I have web slots to fill, and deadlines.

The only insurance benefits I’ve ever received have been for checkups, getting my teeth cleaned, sore throat sick claims and having a baby. I superstitiously buy personal protection insurance to keep bad things from happening, not because I expect to file a claim.

I find that one of the most difficult concepts to grasp is that some people who could afford to buy long-term care insurance avoid doing so mainly because of fear of not ever needing long-term care. My philosophy is that the whole point of buying long-term care insurance is to fool the universe into keeping you sound of mind and body until you’re 120.

Related: Montana warns of surprise air ambulance bills

I’ve written several stories about air ambulance costs and medical evacuation insurance recently, just because that’s something Consumers Union and panels at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners have been talking about lately.

I thought that was just one of those interesting topics that was very remote from my life, like special disability insurance policies for world-class athletes, or hole-in-one insurance for golf courses.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, my cousin (many details changed here to protect privacy) called up to ask me to look after his son for a day because he was going through a rough period.

They’d been traveling in the Bahamas, His wife had a stroke. They ended up spending more than $40,000 on an air ambulance service, after my cousin spent the whole day on the phone figuring how air ambulance service worked, lining up a flight, and scrounging up the cash to pay for the flight.

An online quote service says a week of international travel medical coverage that includes $50,000 in medical evacuation benefits, along with $10,000 in emergency medical benefits, would cost someone my cousin’s wife’s age just $56.

I’ve spent way more than that in a year just bringing them chocolate flourless cakes for hostess gifts. Their other gifts have probably spent more than that on bringing them wine, craft beer and chocolates.

If only we’d all given them gift cards good for one week of travel medical coverage with medical evacuation benefits, or a live human had harassed them at a sales table in front of a drug store till they had to buy a full-year travel medical benefits policy, with medical evacuation benefits, just to get away….

Allison Bell is a senior editor at 


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