Paul has lived in Thailand since 2007. He has been to international hospitals and has filed many Blue Cross Blue Shield overseas claims.
Since 2007, I have been retired and living in Thailand. I lived in Bangkok for seven years and have been living in the provincial city of Udon Thani since 2014.
Before retiring from the United States federal government service, I had Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) medical insurance coverage. Fortunately, I have been able to keep this insurance coverage in retirement. BCBS is one of the biggest insurance companies in the U.S. and it covers subscribers no matter where they live in the world.
In this article, I will begin by explaining why I need to file directly with BCBS some overseas medical claims. Next, I will list what is required before filing a claim. Finally, I will describe the whole process of how to file a BCBS overseas medical claim.
Why the Need to File Directly with BCBS Some Overseas Medical Claims
BCBS will deal directly with overseas hospitals to settle its subscribers' inpatient and some outpatient medical claims. When I had a kidney operation in 2015 at an international hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, I did not have to file any medical or prescription drug claims with BCBS. The same was true when I had a hernia operation in 2020 at an international hospital in Udon City.
For some outpatient visits, however, BCBS requires its subscribers to first pay a hospital or clinic and then file an overseas medical claim for reimbursement. For prescription drugs, the subscriber must first pay a hospital, clinic, or pharmacy and then file an overseas prescription drug claim.
What Is Required Before Filing an Overseas Medical Claim?
Before starting to file an overseas medical claim with bills and medical records, it is necessary to have the following:
- The United States or overseas foreign bank account
- A computer with access to the Internet
- A combination printer, scanner, and copier
- The SKYPE application on a computer
A United States or Overseas Foreign Bank Account
BCBS pays its claims in U.S. dollars or foreign currency. One has the choice of being paid by check or by direct deposit into the United States or overseas foreign bank account.
The problem with being paid by check is that many foreign countries' banks don't like to cash them. I once had a U.S. dollar check from BCBS that three or four Thai banks refused to cash. I wound up having to send it back to BCBS before it paid me by direct deposit to a U.S. bank.
Direct deposit is the fastest and easiest way to get reimbursement for medical expenses. Direct deposit details will be noted later in this article.
A Computer with Access to the Internet
Since it usually takes at least a month to send overseas medical claims by mail from Thailand to the U.S., I need to have a computer with access to the Internet. This way, I can access a BCBS website that allows me to file claims electronically. This will be explained in detail later.
A Combination Printer, Scanner, and Copier
If a medical bill is sent to you attached to an email, you can print it out and then scan it into a file to store on your computer. Scanned bills and medical records can later be uploaded to secure portals when you file your claims. This will also be explained later.
The SKYPE Application on a Computer
Sometimes it is necessary to talk with a BCBS representative to discuss an overseas medical claim. You can easily call BCBS on your computer using SKYPE.
How to File an Overseas Medical Claim
Steps Recommended Before Completing an Overseas Medical Claim Form
- Gather necessary BCBS policy data and have claim information scanned to a computer.
- Make sure you have Adobe Reader software on your computer.
- Establish a MyBlue account and ID at fepblue.org. This assumes you are a retired or active federal employee.
- Log into your MyBlue account and get into the overseas claim portal.
- Fill out your email address and select medical claim.
- From a menu, download the overseas medical claim form.
Completing the Overseas Medical Claim Form
When filling out the form, it is very important to pay attention to the following:
- Enrollment code and ID number of your policy
- Under #3 Diagnosis: Describe in detail the reason for your outpatient visit.
- Under #4 Charges: Note the dates of service, total charges on your bill, and the number of itemized bills.
- Reimbursement information
You have the choice of being paid with a U.S. dollar or foreign currency check, U.S. dollars electronically transferred to your U.S. bank, or an electronic transfer of foreign currency to a foreign bank. If there are any problems with the electronic transfer, you will be paid by check.
For electronic transfers or bank wires, you need the following:
- name of bank
- complete address of bank including number and street, city, state or province, country, and zip code
- bank account number
- bank routing number
- a copy of a canceled check scanned and already uploaded to verify your account and routing numbers.
Steps Following the Completion of the Medical Claim Form
- Save the claim form to your computer.
- Upload the medical claim form, itemized bills, medical certificate(s,) and canceled check through the secure portal.
- Press the submit button to send your claim to BCBS.
What Happens Following the Submission of an Overseas Medical Claim
Following the submission of an overseas medical claim, BCBS will send you an email verifying receipt of your claim. BCBS will usually process your claim in one month or less. When finished processing, BCBS will send you a secure email in your Fepblue account. The email will include an Explanation of Benefits detailing which charges are allowed and not allowed. The amount of money being paid for the claim will also be noted. If you selected direct deposit bank wire, the money should appear in your bank in seven to ten days.
If you dispute or have any questions about charges not being allowed, you can call a BCBS representative at a toll-free number or send a secure message within your Fepblue account.
From personal experience, give BCBS a lot of detailed medical information from your doctor about your diagnosis and treatment.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2021 Paul Richard Kuehn
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 01, 2021:
Dora, I am very happy you find this information valuable. Let me know if you need more information.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 01, 2021:
Didn't think this was even possible. Thank you for this very valuable informaition.