If you’re the kind of person who travels frequently for business or if you’re moving to a different state sometime soon, you want to make sure that your healthcare information – insurance coverage and advance healthcare directive – is valid wherever you go.
Advance Healthcare Directive and Medical Power of Attorney
Both the advance healthcare directive and the medical power of attorney are documents that dictate what you want to happen should you no longer be able to make medical decisions for yourself. The former specifies the instructions on how to care for you, while the latter authorizes a medical professional or a lawyer to make healthcare-related decisions on your behalf.
Documents directing healthcare are usually recognized across states. Most states will accept a medical directive as long as it’s legally valid in the state where it’s made and it doesn’t violate any criminal laws. But some states only recognize documents that comply with their own laws, so be sure to check state legislation before you move or travel.
Although the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to direct your own healthcare, this may not apply the same way to the medical power of attorney. Every state allows you to choose a representative to make decisions for you, however, some states limit what he or she can do for you.
For example, your agent may decide to transfer you to another hospital. The state may not allow him or her to perform this, unless it’s explicitly stated in your document that your agent has this power.
You may think that making documents per state is a good way to bypass these legalities, but this may only make things worse. States have different health care forms so it’s difficult to create one for each. Also, your current directives can revoke earlier versions, which can be a problem if there are differences in your healthcare instructions per document.
Although all the states recognize your insurance policy, it will only cover medical emergencies. If, for instance, you have a planned surgery with a knee doctor in Pleasant Grove even though you’re not from Utah, your healthcare provider will not shoulder the expense. Different companies also have varied definitions for an “emergency,” so it’s best to ask what counts as an emergency before you travel.
Additionally, your insurance policy is restricted to a network of healthcare providers. These are the health maintenance organizations that agree to insure you should anything happen to you. If you go outside of the network, you may have to pay for the medical expenses yourself.
To make sure that you can use your medical insurance across state lines, ask your healthcare provider these questions:
- Are there local service providers in my destination that recognize my policy? Are there any restricted states?
- Are urgent care facilities covered when out of state or is it just emergency rooms?
- How does the claims payment work? Will I have to pay in advance and request a reimbursement?
Before you travel, make sure you know the ins and outs of your insurance coverage. You also need to be aware of the restrictions on healthcare directives in your destination. This way, you don’t have to worry about medical concerns no matter where you are.