Firstly, let us define what fixed and comprehensive plans are. They work quite differently from each other. A fixed plan also called scheduled benefits plan is popularly known as fixed, because the insurance company has limits placed on what they will pay for each medical expense. A comprehensive plan offers much more complete coverage. Let me explain using an example. Let's suppose that a person has incurred the following medical expenses: Doctor visit for $350, prescription medications for $160, minor surgery for $1350. The total expenses are $1,860. Let's give two examples of plans with a $100 deductible and a $50,000 maximum limit. The person with the comprehensive plan will pay the deductible of $100. After that, assume they have a 10% coinsurance charge, so they will still pay $176 (so a total of $276). With a fixed plan, the insurance company will pay only $55 for an office visit, only $100 for prescription medication and up to $3,300 for a surgery. That leaves $295 for the office visit, $60 for medication, and $0 for the surgery which totals $355. In this example, there is not much disparity between either policy. Now imagine that all costs are the same except the surgery costs $15,000. In that case, the person with a comprehensive plan will pay only $600 for all expenses ($100 deductible plus 10% of next $5000), whereas the person with the fixed plan will now have to pay an additional $11,700 (since the plan will only pay $3,300 for a surgery), which gives a total bill of $12,055.
So, the question is: What do you want to insure yourself against: minor medical issues which are more likely (flu) or major events that are unlikely (broken bone)? If you decide for a fixed plan, I recommend getting a very high maximum ($100,000 or $130,000 are options) because as the maximum of the policy is increased, the amount paid for each expense tends to go up (at $100,000 maximum, they pay $5,500 for a surgery, for example). Also, with a fixed plan, get as high a deductible as you can ($200 for elderly insureds or $100). In either of the above scenarios, the insured would have to pay the same amount regardless of deductible and this would always be the case unless you have extremely minor charges. Therefore, you can save money on the premium by choosing a higher deductible.
To save money on the comprehensive plan which is much more costly than a fixed plan, you can increase the deductible quite high ($2,500 or $1,000; these levels are not available for fixed plans). With such a high deductible, you will most likely have to pay out of pocket for any minor complaints, like a doctor visit due to flu or stomach complaint; however, you would be protected from a devastatingly high medical bill. For a person over 80 years of age, the only options with at least a $50,000 maximum are fixed plans. In that case, I recommend the Inbound Immigrant plan. Other than that age group, the type of coverage you want will depend on what you wish to insure yourself against.
We have many options of either type available on our website and friendly staff to assist you with any questions or concerns you have as you make your decision on fixed and comprehensive visitors medical insurance. As always, we wish you safe and happy travels!