Health Insurance Out-of-State: A Comprehensive Guide


A common query among insurance holders is whether their health insurance extends its coverage when they are out of the state. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights into this topic by addressing various scenarios related to out-of-state health insurance coverage.

Understanding Health Insurance Coverage

Health insurance is a crucial safety net that assists in covering medical expenses. However, the extent of this coverage can vary based on numerous factors, including the geographical location. It’s essential to understand the terms of your insurance plan and how it applies when you’re out of state.

Does Your Health Insurance Offer Out-of-State Coverage?

The first step is to determine whether your health insurance plan provides out-of-state coverage. Some insurance policies may restrict you to a network of healthcare providers, limiting your coverage when you’re in a different state. To avoid any surprises, it’s advisable to contact your insurance provider and inquire about your plan’s out-of-state coverage.

A health insurance network is a list of medical service providers that have agreements with your insurer. If your health insurance policy includes a network of providers, seeking services “outside the network” could lead to higher out-of-pocket expenses or even claim denial.

The Importance of In-Network Providers

Generally, your health insurance plan will cover a larger portion of the total cost when you visit in-network providers. Conversely, if you seek care “out-of-network,” you may face higher out-of-pocket costs. Moreover, some health insurance plans place restrictions on out-of-network care coverage.

Types of Health Insurance Plans and Out-of-State Coverage

The extent of out-of-state coverage can vary depending on the type of health insurance plan. Here’s a brief overview of how different types of plans treat out-of-state coverage:

Type of PlanDoes it Cover Out-of-Network Care?Additional Plan Details
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)YES• Most flexibility with accessing in-network care.
• Lower costs with in-network providers.
• Out-of-network care available at an additional cost.
Health Management Organization (HMO)NO• Most affordable plan with low premiums and copays.
• Strictest care restrictions.
• No out-of-network care coverage.
• Specialty care accessible only with referral from primary care provider (PCP).
Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)NO• No out-of-network care coverage.
• No referrals needed to access specialty care and specialist visits.
Point of Service Plans (POS)YES, at an additional cost• Access to in-network providers at a low cost.
• Referral needed to see a specialist.
• Out-of-network care accessible at an additional cost.

Emergency Care and Out-of-State Health Insurance Coverage

Most health insurance plans restrict out-of-state coverage to emergencies and life-threatening injuries. In case of out-of-state emergencies, your medical expenses will be billed as ‘in-network’ regardless of the hospital you visit.

Defining an Emergency

The definition of an “emergency” can vary from one health insurance plan to another. It’s crucial to ask your insurance provider for their exact definition of an emergency to avoid any confusion or discrepancies in coverage.

Non-Emergency Out-of-State Care

Non-emergency care received outside of your home state is typically not classified as ‘in-network’ and does not abide by your standard coverage or set co-pay rates. The rules and regulations on out-of-network care depend on the type of your plan (HMO, EPO, PPO, etc.).

Multi-State Health Insurance Plans

Multi-state plans are available through the Health Insurance Marketplace, offering coverage nationally or across different states. However, the term “multi-state health insurance” can be misleading; having a multi-state plan does not necessarily guarantee access to care in all states.

If you have an employee benefits plan or group health insurance, you can contact your Human Resources department or plan administrator for more details. Employers sometimes offer travel insurance as part of an employee benefits package, which may provide the coverage you need.

Medicaid and Medicare: Out-of-State Guidelines

Medicaid and Medicare, the primary federal government-based healthcare plans, each have their own set of guidelines and restrictions dictating in- and out-of-state care options.


Medicare is federal health insurance for people aged 65 or older and some younger people with disabilities. Out-of-state coverage with Medicare depends on the specific plan and how you receive Medicare benefits.


Contrary to Medicare, Medicaid is a federal and state program helping lower healthcare costs for people classified as low income. As Medicaid eligibility requirements are primarily determined by the state, coverage cannot be transferred from one state to another.

Travel Insurance: An Alternative for Out-of-State Coverage

If your health insurance does not provide sufficient out-of-state coverage, purchasing supplemental coverage like travel insurance could be a viable option. Travel insurance can cover a range of medical emergencies, providing a safety net for unexpected healthcare costs when you’re out of state.

Key Takeaways

Understanding your health insurance coverage out-of-state is crucial, especially if you frequently travel. Make sure to inquire about your plan’s specifics, such as emergency definitions and urgent care coverage. Familiarize yourself with the types of insurance plans and their out-of-state coverage policies. If necessary, consider alternative options like travel insurance or multi-state health insurance plans to ensure you’re adequately covered during your travels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best health insurance plan for frequent travelers?

While the “best” plan depends on individual circumstances and needs, a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan generally provides the most comprehensive coverage both in and out-of-network, making it a potentially good choice for frequent travelers.

How does health insurance work if I live in two different states?

If you have homes in two states, your insurance will typically only cover emergency care in the state where you’re not enrolled. For non-emergency in-network services, you might have to return to the state where you’re enrolled.

What happens if I move out of state?

If you move to a new state, you may have to apply for new health insurance. Even if you stay with the same insurance company, you may still need to provide new information and get an updated policy for your new location.

Remember, health insurance is not just about having a safety net in case of emergencies; it’s about ensuring that you have access to the necessary medical care, wherever you are. Make sure you understand how your plan works out-of-state to avoid any unexpected surprises.