How Does Direct Billing Work with Visitors Insurance?

After using your visitors insurance to visit a doctor or hospital, the healthcare provider will either request upfront payment, send the medical bill to you, or bill the insurance company directly. Insurance direct billing, also known as direct pay, means that the doctor or hospital you visit sends the itemized bill directly to the travel insurance company from which you purchased your visitors insurance policy.

How Direct Billing Works

The direct billing process does not only involve the healthcare provider and insurance company. It is your responsibility to file a claim after receiving the treatment. Below is an example of a direct billing process:

  • The hospital or physician sends the bill directly to the travel insurance company and gives you a copy of the bill.
  • You file a claim for the medical services received and send the claim along with a copy of the bill, a copy of your passport, completed Form I-94, and any other required supporting documents to the travel insurance company. Filing a claim is necessary as a part of the verification process.
  • The travel insurance company reviews the claim and verifies the provided information. If the claim is approved, the company pays the medical service provider directly.

Direct Billing is Not Guaranteed

The billing method is at the discretion of the medical service provider, not the patient. While most major hospitals and physicians in the US use direct billing, it may not be the case with some healthcare providers. In the case that the service provider requests upfront payment, be sure to obtain a copy of the itemized bill listing all medical procedures received. You will need this when filing a claim for reimbursement later.

If you are buying prescription medications, the pharmacy may not use direct billing. Read more about how visitors insurance works at pharmacies.

Medical Billing Misconceptions

Some international travelers may be confused about the billing process and end up not receiving their reimbursement due to common misunderstandings.

Be sure to remember the following:

  • Filing a claim is always mandatory. Unlike your domestic healthcare plan, which may not require you to file a claim for every service, visitors insurance requires that you always file a claim for any treatment or service you receive while abroad.
  • Filing a claim is necessary for any billing method. Whether the health service provider requests upfront payment, sends the bill to you, or uses direct billing, you must file a claim for the treatment.
  • Paying up front is not the same as filing a claim. If the hospital or physician requests that you pay up front, you will not be reimbursed for the services unless you file a claim with the travel insurance company.

Direct billing is a convenient billing method, but remember that you are responsible for part of the process. Even if your healthcare provider uses direct billing, you must still file a claim for the travel insurance company to pay the bill.

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