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Learning the Hard Way—Insurance Works

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Holland is a place that holds significant meaning for me. It’s where I fulfilled my dream of higher education, where I discovered the beauty of a new culture and, interestingly enough, where I realized the value of medical insurance.

As a poor college student living abroad—I left Vietnam when I was 19—Holland opened my eyes to new experiences and a totally new way of life. Gardens overflowing with tulips, the countryside dotted with windmills, people riding their bicycles everywhere—I couldn’t help but be captivated by this new landscape even while I was hard at work studying for my business degree.

To help pay for my tuition, I took a part-time job and rode my bike from school to work every day. It was a hectic schedule, but I enjoyed the hustle and busyness of it. Unfortunately, my left knee couldn’t keep up and I ended up in a local hospital to treat some badly swollen ligaments. That’s when I learned about a little thing called medical insurance.

“Do you have insurance?” the admitting nurse asked me.

This was my first visit to a Dutch hospital and I was shocked that this was the first question she asked. Back home in Vietnam, insurance is not an issue. Doctors treat you, you get a bill, and then you pay it.

“Of course not,” I replied.

I soon discovered that medical care in Holland costs significantly more than it does in Vietnam. After my treatments and physical therapy I was racking up bill after bill with no way to pay. For me, these bills threatened to end my stay in college and delay my graduation indefinitely. So I called my university looking for help.

I will never forget the relief I felt when I learned that my school purchased a group policy for all of its international students, but because of a spelling error in my email address, I never got the confirmation. As it turned out, I did have insurance all along! It wasn’t easy to get the billing straightened out with the hospital and doctors, but I eventually had my bills processed with the insurance company. I was thrilled to see thousands of dollars in medical bills disappear, and even more thrilled to be able to finish my studies in Holland.

Now, as the Individual Plan Specialist at Insurance Services of America, it’s my goal to help international students and vacationers alike avoid unexpected “surprises”—like the high cost of medical care—during their journeys abroad. After all, a trip abroad should be about beauty, culture and new experiences—not about learning the costly downside of not having medical insurance.

For information about international medical insurance, please email me anytime. I’ll be glad to point you in the right direction!

Safe travels!

Grace Morrow, Individual Plan Specialist