Do insurance policies cover medical translations?

Medical travel insurance

Experts say 15 percent of travelers encounter some kind of medical problem on their journey (from Forbes website).

Since the likelihood of a medical emergency while traveling abroad is significant, it is recommended that you purchase medical emergency travel insurance before traveling to another country. Your local medical insurance does not usually cover medical treatment overseas. Purchasing a medical emergency travel insurance makes sense, especially since the costs are not high for a healthy individual-premiums typically cost a few dollars a day.

Types of medical travel insurance

Medical emergency travel insurance can be purchased on its own, or can be bundled together with other types of travel coverage. Trip cancellation, luggage loss/theft, theft or loss of smartphones/tablets/notebook PCs can also be purchased. More exotic types of coverage include search and rescue, air evacuation and more. I myself usually purchase for myself and my family members just the basic medical emergency travel insurance. And I even have an interesting story about this.

A number of years ago I sent my two oldest boys, then 9 and 11, to a sleepaway summer camp in a foreign country. One day I get a phone call from the camp Doctor: your boys came into contact with a bat and need rabies shots. The Doctor, who I’m guessing did not graduate at the top of his class, made sure to worry me and my wife sick by reminding us that rabies is a fatal disease and that the rabies shots were recommended. So obviously my answer was: send them to the hospital for the shots. It turned out that it was actually a series of 5 shots. A few months later I get a hospital bill for $15,000! I did not panic, instead I just sent the bill to the insurance company who took care of the bill. Had I not purchased medical emergency travel insurance, I would have been in the hole for serious bucks.

Interpretation Service Coverage

Going to hospital in a foreign country may be challenging if the staff does not speak your language. Explaining a urinary tract infection in sign language or pantomime may be difficult. So in these types of scenarios, a medical interpreter is recommended.  Who pays for it? Is it covered by your insurance policy? Sometimes it is and it is worthwhile to check prior to your trip abroad.

Here is a snippet from a medical emergency travel insurance by British insurance company RSA.

Interpretation Service: Global Excel can connect you to a foreign language interpreter when required for emergency services in foreign countries.

Here is another snippet from a different policy from RSA:

Global Excel will work closely with you to …… provide multilingual interpreters to communicate with physicians and hospitals.

You should carefully check if interpretation services are covered by your travel policy and if this is something that you deem important, make sure to get this coverage.

Medical Report Translation

One of the best selling items at GTS Translation is translation of medical reports. Especially medical report translation to English. Many of the customers are individuals who were hospitalized while traveling abroad and needed an emergency operation or procedure which requires hospitalization. These individuals invariably require that the medical papers be translated into English in order to ensure continuous and proper healthcare when they return home.

The types of medical reports that people need to translate are many and include blood tests, CT and MRI scan reports, physician reports and toxicology reports. These types of medical reports need to be translated by professional medical translator with specialized subject-matter experience. Preferably, these translations should be done Medical Doctors who are also translators. (Many people would be surprised to learn that there are MDs who work as translators, but there are in fact quite a few and at GTS we have several such MD translators on our team).

The cost of professional medical report translation can be high. Starting in the hundreds and even going into the thousands of dollars.

Here too, it is recommended that you check with your insurance agent or company to see if these are reimbursable expenses.

Using Translation Services in Investigator Initiated Trials (IIT)

investigator initiated trials translation services

Most people tend to think that clinical trials are conducted by pharmaceutical  or biotechnology companies in their path to releasing a new drug to the market. And indeed most clinical trials are sponsored by drug companies. But there is also a significant number of investigator initiated trials (IIT) that are conducted by public institutions likes Universities and hospitals. According to the US Government NIH over 300,000 clinical studies are currently being conducted worldwide. Out of these, it is estimated that up to 20% are IITs, which are sometimes referred to as academic clinical trials.

In clinical trials which are sponsored by drug companies, profits are the driving force behind the study. Rolling out a new drug can bring pharmaceutical companies a fortune in sales and profits. On the other hand, academic clinical trials serve as a source of prestige; they can also generate income from private and government funding. Another difference between a new drug study and academic clinical trials: academic clinical trials can test the efficacy of an existing drug or medical device to investigate how it may improve treatment and safety of patients.

Unlike industry‐sponsored trials focused on regulatory
approval of new medications, IITs are developed and executed
under the direction of 3rd party investigators who are
physician researchers, often within an academic institution
(from Centerwatch website)

Medical translation services play an important role in academic clinical trials. Academic clinical trials are multicenter trials which can be conducted in different countries. Informed Consent must be available in the languages spoken by the clinical trial participants. Back translation is also typically required to validate the accuracy of the translation. And translation Statement of Accuracy certificates are always needed.

GTS Translation Services have considerable expertise in medical translation services for academic clinical trials. Here are some projects we have done in the past year:

NYU Langone Health – Translation and back translation of informed consent forms into Arabic, Chinese, Polish, Spanish, Russian.

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA – translation of informed consent forms and clinical protocol data into Farsi, Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish.

Medical College of Wisconsin – translation and back translation of informed consent forms into Spanish.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – translation of 300 page Pediatric Emergency Medicine manual into French.